About Me - My Taekwondo journey to black belt

About me - The Lead Instructor at Taekwondo4Fitness
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About me and my Taekwondo journey to a healthy and fulfilling life!

My name is Mario, and I have been practising martial arts since 1989. My Taekwondo journey started when I was 16 years old, and I kept practising even if life often got in my way.
My goal is to inspire and motivate the youth and adults to become more active, make healthier choices, and share the experience of shaping oneself into a better person each and every day.
I am a certified Fitness Coach, a Taekwondo Instructor with a Kukkiwon black belt and a National Poomsae Referee who gained full Disclosure Checks clearance. Continued education and further training are crucial to me.
Since 2018, I have been enrolled in a Level 4 Elite Personal Trainer Course with RSPH Nutrition with Future Fit Training – the leading training provider for Personal Trainers, Nutrition Advisers in the UK because it provides me with the knowledge and skills required to work with clients with common health conditions that are increasingly the norm.
Physical activity is essential and has not only physiological benefits but also contributes to social and psychological well-being. It reduces the risk of developing several diseases like type 2 diabetes, cancer and cardiovascular disease. Besides this, drinking lots of fluids and eating healthily are mandatory for health and fitness.
For this reason, I became a Taekwondo Instructor and opened this school in May 2019 to help my students achieve their health and fitness goals with martial arts and maintain the Five Tenets of Taekwondo.


My Way of Life!

I was born in 1976 in Berlin, in the capital of Germany and have been active my entire life. Even if I enjoy running, cycling, long walks, my passion was always martial arts.
My life during childhood and adolescence was hard. I experienced different types of abuse, separation, loss of my parents and close family members, bullying at school, violence, money problems, witnessed alcohol and drug addiction in the family, death and more. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I worked on becoming a better version of myself, took my life into my own hands, made drastic changes and reached out for help.
I started with Judo when I was 13 years old, but soon I realised that this martial art was not the right one for me. In November 1989, the fall of the Berlin wall happened. I grew up in Wedding, one of the working-class districts full of violence. Gangs were making the streets unsafe. Bullies used knives,  their fists and their feet to cause harm to others. So Judo didn’t give me the confidence to defend myself against these people. I only graduated with a yellow belt until I stopped attending classes ultimately.
My Taekwondo journey started in 1992 when my schoolmate took me to a Taekwondo club called “Sportschule Bae” in Berlin Moabit. At this time, I was 16 years old. My friend’s parents were the owner of the dojang. Regularly after school, I went to training, often for two classes a day. My instructor was Master Kang Seok Sun from Korea, who has been practising Taekwondo since 1964. I earned my 7th Kup in December 1992. Taekwondo helped me to gain confidence in stopping bullies and defending myself effectively.
After my mother passed away in January 1993, my life was falling apart. Due to profound grief, I lost focus on school education and sports. I only attended Taekwondo classes once or twice a week; it took me some time to get my life back on track.
The other stroke of fate happened when my father was diagnosed with cancer. After he passed away in September 1996, I was entirely alone and could no longer afford Taekwondo lessons in clubs. I never stopped pursuing it!
My mother was just 38, and my father was 44 when they died. For this reason, In 1998, I left my hometown and moved to Hamburg city to start over and study Medical Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences.
Life was tough, and my budget was minimal, so I worked three extra jobs for a living. My temp job as a carer for the elderly followed me during study and apprenticeship between January 2000 and May 2007. Besides this, I was doing a cleaning job at least twice a week and gave private lessons. As a result of tuition fees and financial reasons, I quit university and started a career in Information Technology in 2004.
After my IT training ended in 2006, there was no longer the need to do any extra jobs, so I signed up for Taekwondo classes at Gym Sandokan in Hamburg, and I attended regular sessions for almost a year.
Later on, in 2007, I became a student at the Mo San club. My instructor was Muhamed Kahrimanovic, who prepared me for the grading to the 6th Kup in July 2007 with German Taekwondo Union (DTU). Muhamed is known under his nickname “Hammer Hands” and his ability to break coconuts, slabs and baseball bats. I took my last belt promotion exam at the end of July 2007, until I left my home country.
The Lead Instructor at Taekwondo4Fitness
The Lead Instructor at Taekwondo4Fitness
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I moved to Slovakia to start a new life in a foreign country with a different culture and language for professional and personal reasons. Even if I didn’t have any Slovak language skills, it didn’t hold me back from joining Ilyo Taekwondo Kosice in October 2007. My trainer was Pavel Ižarik, who is holding the 5th Dan grade. I took three exams during my four-years-stay in this beautiful country. The last grading to the 2nd Kup was in February 2010.
After I met my wife, Gabriela in June 2009, I started focusing more on eating healthily and became a vegan.
In the middle of 2011, my wife and I left Slovakia. Since things didn’t work out as expected, in June 2013, we moved to Vienna in Austria, where I started a new IT job in the financial sector.
Unfortunately, my role was made redundant after 18 months of employment, so my wife and I had to give up the apartment and stay temporarily with her family in Slovakia for a few months. We decided to move back to the UK, so I applied for an IT job in Greater London. In October 2015, I started working for a big software company, and things worked better for both of us.
In November 2018, I signed up for a Level 2 Children’s Fitness Qualification and a Personal Trainer course towards level 4 with a leading provider to build up a second career path within the fitness industry and become an expert. My wife is currently in progress, becoming a Level 4 Certified Personal Trainer.
Even if I wasn’t signed up in clubs continuously over these years, I always kept practising martial arts, and Taekwondo has always been part of my life. Since the end of March 2017, I have been attending training classes 3-5 training per week in three different clubs – as a student, assistant, and lead instructor at Taekwondo4Fitness.
My first Dan grading was in September 2018, where I earned my 1st-degree black belt. I obtained a license as a Taekwondo Instructor with British Taekwondo. In March 2019, I completed a National Taekwondo Poomsae Judge certification. My last Dan grading was on the 28th of September 2019, where I earned my 2nd-degree black belt. Besides my full-time IT job, I have developed my club in Aylesbury and continued with my Taekwondo and Personal Trainer education.
Since I experienced different types of abuse during my childhood, it has always been my highest priority to safeguard children and vulnerable people in my duty of care. I do the best I can to keeping them safe from potential harm or abuse because I don’t want anyone to experience the same as I did. Children are always the ones who suffer the most, and it can influence their entire life. For this reason, I also took part in a welfare officer specific education as an addition to my professional Level 2 Children’s Fitness Coach qualification with Future Fit Training and regular safeguarding pieces of training and workshops with different providers like UK Coaching.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, I stopped offering classes at a venue. The safety of my family and members is my highest priority. Instead, I moved entirely online to keep my members active, fit and engaged during these challenging times of crisis.
In March 2021, Taekwondo4Fitness became an association of the Independent Taekwondo Organisation (ITO), and I took the role of Chairman and Examination Director – Instructor & Trainer Education in the United Kingdom. As an ITO Examiner, I have now the opportunity to grade my students without being dependant on other senior instructors. So my members can earn higher grades and a Kukkiwon blackbelt that is internationally recognised without any politics involved.
Covid-19-restrictions were lifted on the 19th of July 2021. After over 18 months of teaching online, in cooperation with Active Partnerships, I am in the process of returning to a venue to deliver physical sessions for the youth and adults. Depending on the number of participants, I may introduce additional courses later for different age groups.
COVID-19 is unavoidable, and the virus became endemic. Everyone is going to get it! Herd immunity is unachievable even with high vaccine uptake, so we have to live with it. Anyone unvaccinated will meet the virus at some point, depending on age and mobilities.  For this reason, it is time to prepare ourselves to boost our immune system and make our health a priority.
You can be easily tempted to make unhealthy choices to comfort your life, even as a vegetarian or vegan. For this reason, I became a Nutrition Advisor who has been following a plant-based diet for over a decade. To find out more, please click here.
Keep it going, work harder and NEVER give up!
If you’d like to connect or have any questions, please reach out – I’m here to help.
Thank you for reading, and keep safe!
Lead Instructor Mario