Friday, 13 April 2012


Yestereve I left the comfy surroundings of my folks house where I was visiting for a catch up (and not dropping in on the way to more sport for a free dinner ; ) and headed to a sports centre which used to be named after local sporting hero Terry Marsh to learn 'the way of the hand and the foot', or Taekwondo to you and I.

Terry Marsh: former Undisputed IBF Light Welterweight World Champion
As it turns out my pal Adam already trains with the Essex Tae kwon Do Academy, the local club run by Mr Gordon Slater - 6th dan black belt.

Coach Slater had given me the opportunity to come and train with the club of one of their locally run nights and I'd learned of Adam's link over a very nice meal for our mutual friend, Kells Bells.

Gordon Slater: Taekwondo 6th Dan Black Belt vs The Great Wall of China
(I know who my money's on...and it's not visible from the moon).
The session began with a game designed to warm us up while we competed in two teams, working against each other to score by landing a small squidgy call onto our opponents crash mat / 'goal'. Because I was wearing dark colours I got to be on the Black Belts team, we smashed them!

With the blood flowing nicely we took in water and regrouped in rows to face our sensei and learn of the plans for the evenings lesson. While the regulars took to mini bouts, another newbie and I were taught in the ways of the very basics by 3rd dan Chris; a really good teacher who effortlessly taught us while showing his clear love for the sport which he'd already dedicated nine years to.

We learned some of the many customs intrinsic to this much disciplined and polite of martial arts, how to do basic blocks, how to walk while blocking, basic punches and how to turn. My tuition for The Judo Challenge came in very handy and I honestly feel it'll help at least to begin with (thanks again Coach Skillcorn).

I also learned how to create 'the all seeing hand' - a way in which to finish a block (and I'm sure other moves I've yet to learn) which leaves one hand on your side, clenched in a fist and placed far enough forward to be usefully positioned for whatever your opponent throws at you next.

After our very private tuition we joined Coach Gordon to watch on while the more advanced members (everyone else) had a brief spar with each other, it was then that I learned my fellow newbie was attending to rebuild confidence after suffering a horrific attack by eight men which resulted on him requiring titanium plates in his cheek and forehead; how sad that folk need to virtually kill a man who's merely asking for them not to verbally abuse a friend while on a night out.

We then got to learn our sparring in Taekwondo began: we started by taking three kicks while advancing on an opponent, before they retaliated with a few moves, then this was repeated while switching roles, the kicks were reduced down to one each before the intermittent breaks were taken away and we found ourselves lightly sparring.

A final game squidgy 'handball' to warm-down and my first lesson was over. I'm not ready to spar with anyone with a Dan in their family let alone on their belt, but Ill get there!

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