Author Archives: jasper

Origins of Tae kwon-do and its current status in the UK

Since Tae kwon-do (TKD) has been such a large and influential part of my life, I find it important to understand its origins. I hope some of you will find this interesting too…



TKD is a relatively new Martial Art developed in South Korea by Major General Choi Hong Hi (1918 – 2002) in 1955. It’s popularity is due to the way that it encompasses exercise, self-defence, and philosophy. If you speak to any competent Martial Artist, they will tell you the emphasis of TKD is in the use of feet as a formidable weapon.



“Tae” means to strike with the foot, “Kwon” means to strike with the fist, and “Do” means the way or art. At every grading, the student must answer questions on the theory of TKD; this includes pattern meanings, Korean terminology and personal questions related to TKD etc. There are five tenants of TKD that are engrained to everyone who trains: courtesy, perseverance, self-control, indomitable spirit and integrity. This requirement to understand the meaning behind the art is a unique approach.



There are two main styles of TKD that exist: International Tae kwon-do Federation (ITF, founded in 1967) and the World Tae kwon-do Federation (WTF, founded in 1977). ITF was formed by Master Rhee Ki Ha and concentrates on all the elements of TKD as previously described. WTF concentrates more on the sport element of TKD and is the accepted Olympic style (a bad choice in my opinion – I think ITF is much more of a spectator sport). Many branches exist under these two main bodies. For example, I train under GTI which is part of ITF. Tae kwon-do Association of Great Britain (TAGB) deserves a mention here, as they are the biggest (ITF style) organization in Europe and have produced some excellent fighters (in particular Warren Vice).

Getting BIG!

For the past few months I have unsuccessfully been trying to put on weight because I am one of the lightest in the heavy weight division. It was time a drastic change. Monday morning saw the start of our (my friend’s and I) “Get Big Phase”.


Basically the first week is the loading phase: whey protein (post-gym and at 3am!), creatine, eating as much as we can (four big meals a day plus snacks) and hitting the gym everyday. The next stage, the bulking phase, involves: daily whey protein, creatine, eating four meals a day and gymming it ever other day. Bulking up will involve an increase in the amount of muscle and fat we put on, so we have planned the next stage (the getting lean phase) to strip away the excess fat. This will involve 5 weeks of high cardio, eating regular amounts and cutting out late night carbs (no creatine or whey protein). The heaviest I’ve ever weighed in my life is 82.6kg (I’m currently on 80kg), hopefully by the end of this I’ll be 86kg.


Its day five of this new regime and it feels like I’ve just spent the last few days eating non-stop! The good news is I managed to bench press my all time high (five sets of three reps at 95kg) yesterday and after jumping on the scales it looks like things are going to plan! I’ll keep you updated on my progress…

Being a star for the day!


It all started a few weeks a go… last November 2008 I helped set up a Varsity Kickboxing Fight Night (I’ll give more details in a later post) to raise money for the charity Help for HeroesLoughboroughUniversity vs University of Bath. It was a great success and a few weeks a go I received a phone call asking me to be in a television advert for the charity (in conjunction with The Sun newspaper). They said they would pay for everything (food, transport and accommodation etc). I just couldn’t say no!



So last Friday I caught the train down to London with five other Bath Uni students (the event organisers). When we finally arrived, we had a guy waiting for us with a sign with our names on and a tinted window van. Talk about feeling like superstars! We arrived at an extremely nice hotel and were greeted by one of the coordinators. He basically told us to help ourselves to room service and that there would be a short get-together meeting that evening. Anyway, being students we quickly found the nearest corner shop and started playing drinking games in the hotel room (along with room service). One of the guys went down to the meeting, but came back up a few minutes later saying it was pants. We continued to consume our beverages and then had a night out in Ealing Broadway (quite a rough area – we even had to go through a metal detector to get into the club!).


Bright and early Saturday morning (7 am) we had to check out and were meant to be driven to the studio, but the coordinator had made a mix up so we had an extra hour in the hotel, where we raided the breakfast buffet.


When we got to the studio, we sped through hair, make-up and costume (since we didn’t need to get much done). We met lots of other groups who had also raised money for the charity. There was a lot of waiting around for the different groups to get their shots in. By the end of the day we had had: individual head shots, a group video, individual and group still shots, recorded some audio and were interviewed by The Sun for their website. Phew!


I was called the “alpha male” of the group as I was the only kickboxer. This meant I was involved in some sparring and poesy techniques (I wasn’t impressed when the photographer asked me to drop my guard so the charity logo could be seen). We returned to Bath by train on Saturday night. All in all it was a great experience, we were well looked after and we even got to meet the lovely page 3 girl, Peta!

Background

So I guess I should start with my background in Martial Arts. I started at the young age of 5 in Karate. I started mainly because my brother started (we’re extremely competitive!!) and my parents wanted me to too. Anyway I can’t remember too much about this being so long ago… but I do recall progressing a few grades and having to stop training after about 18 months (my Dad’s job meant we had to relocate elsewhere).



After unpacking we (my brother and I) started to search for a new place to train. We eventually found Tae kwon-do (TKD) at a local school. I remember starting with a dozen or so other students. As time passed my peers started failing various gradings and then dropping out. Especially during my teenage years everyone left until my brother and I were the only ones remaining from our original group. So the TKD club I joined and am still part of is the GTI (Global Tae kwon-do International) which follows the ITF (International Tae kwon-do Federation) style. I have been training in TKD for over 14 years and although I rarely train with them anymore I still feel/have a close tie to the GTI (e.g. competing at their tournaments, participating in their pre-gradings and seminars etc).



As I have previously mentioned I am studying at the University of Bath. When I started in my first year I wanted to carry on Martial Arts and so tried out Ju Jitsu, Kickboxing and Karate. I’m not a big fan of ground fighting so I dropped Ju Jitsu after a week or two.



The University of Bath Kickboxing club was in decline when I first joined (2005/06), but it still managed to sign up 100+ members during the Fresher’s fair. The club only had about a dozen members training in the second semester. I managed to get on the committee by firstly taking the Treasurer’s position due to the current Treasurer leaving unexpectedly. There was a row between the Kickboxing Chairwoman and the Men’s Captain so I then made it to Men’s Captain. There was then a row between the Chairwoman and Instructors! It was agreed upon by the committee and instructors that I would be a good Chairman to take the club forward next year.



Currently I am in my final year at university, thus don’t have the time to fulfil the duties of Chairman. So I am the Kickboxing Captain at the University of Bath, train with GTI in TKD when I can, and have recently started getting into full-contact kickboxing. In reflection this post probably has too much background information about me, rather than Martial Arts. In the future, I will endeavour to make my posts more Martial Arts focused.