My Taekwondo journey to black belt

Taekwondo4Fitness - Make your health a priority!

My Taekwondo journey to a black belt and a healthier and more fulfilling life​

Table of Contents

Introduction

I was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1976 and have always been active. While I enjoy outdoor activities like running, cycling, and walking, my true passion is martial arts. Despite facing numerous challenges during my childhood and adolescence, including abuse, loss, bullying, violence, addiction, and death, I never gave up on my pursuit of personal growth.

Discovering Taekwondo

I initially started practising Judo at 13, but it did not give me the confidence to defend myself against the violence in my working-class neighbourhood. In 1992, I discovered Taekwondo through a schoolmate and began training regularly at the Sportschule Bae in Berlin Moabit. My instructor was Master Kang Seok Sun, a seasoned practitioner of Taekwondo since 1964.

Training with Master Kang Seok Sun

With his extensive experience and exceptional teaching style, Grandmaster Kang Soek Sun is regarded as one of the top Taekwondo instructors in Berlin. Through this martial art, I gained the confidence to stand up against bullies and defend myself effectively.

A visual narrative of the Taekwondo practitioner's life journey, capturing key moments from childhood challenges in Berlin, discovering Taekwondo, training, and eventually achieving a black belt and becoming an instructor.Overcoming Challenges and Building Confidence

However, after losing my parents to illness, I struggled to maintain focus and grieved. Despite financial difficulties, I never lost my passion for Taekwondo and continued to pursue it independently.

Shifting Careers and Striving to Make Ends Meet

I moved to Hamburg to study Medical Engineering at the University of Applied Sciences but later shifted to a career in Information Technology. Despite having a full-time job, I took on extra work as a carer and private Taekwondo instructor to make ends meet.

Training under Muhamed Kahrimanovic

In 2006, after completing my IT training, I enrolled in Taekwondo classes at the Gym Sandokan in Hamburg. I joined the Mo San club a year later, where I trained under Muhamed Kahrimanovic, also known as “Hammer Hands.” With his guidance, I successfully passed my belt promotion exam and earned my 6th Kup in July 2007 before leaving Germany.

New Beginnings in Slovakia

I moved to Slovakia to embark on a new chapter in a foreign land with a distinct culture and language, driven by both professional and personal motives.

Joining Ilyo Taekwondo Kosice

Despite having no prior knowledge of the Slovak language, I joined Ilyo Taekwondo Kosice in October 2007. My trainer was Pavel Ižarik, who holds the 6th Dan grade.

Progress in Taekwondo

Throughout my four-year stay in the country, I took three exams and ultimately earned my 2nd Kup in February 2010.

Shifting Focus and Relocations

In June 2009, I met my wife Gabriela and shifted my focus to healthy eating, becoming a vegan. In 2011, we left Slovakia for the UK, but things didn’t go as planned, so we relocated to Vienna, Austria, in June 2013. There, I took on a new IT job in the financial sector.

Career Challenges and Opportunities

In October 2015, I began working for a major software company, and things went well until my role was made redundant after 18 months. This forced my wife and me to temporarily stay with her family in Slovakia while we looked for new opportunities. Eventually, we returned to the UK, and I secured an IT job in Greater London.

Training in the UK

I have been a part of the UK Taekwondo community since 2015 and had the privilege of training under top instructors in the country. I initially trained under French Taekwondo Champion Pascal Lath. I joined Ickenham Taekwondo in 2016 as an Assistant Instructor under Master Tony Butcher, known for his focus on discipline, fitness, and self-defence skills. With over 20 years of experience and a lifelong commitment to Taekwondo, Master Tony is renowned for his expert instruction and dedication to helping students reach their full potential. Under his guidance, I honed my skills, improved my techniques, and earned my black belt in 2018.

Training at PremierKi Taekwondo

I also regularly attended classes at PremierKi Taekwondo, where I was trained by Master Gemma and Master Elias, two highly skilled and experienced instructors passionate about Taekwondo. The academy provides expert training in Korean martial arts and is highly regarded in the community. Master Gemma and Master Elias have dedicated their careers to Taekwondo, achieved black belts and numerous competition victories, and are committed to helping students achieve their goals, whether for fitness, self-defence, or cultural exploration.

Pursuing Fitness and Personal Training

In November 2018, I signed up for a Level 2 Children’s Fitness Qualification and a Personal Trainer course leading to Level 4 with a leading provider. My goal was to build a secondary career path in the fitness industry and become an expert. My wife is also pursuing her Level 4 Certified Personal Trainer certification.

Dedication to Taekwondo and Club Development

Taekwondo has always been a part of my life, and even when I wasn’t formally enrolled in a club, I kept practising. Since March 2017, I have participated in three to five weekly training sessions at three different clubs, serving as a student, assistant, and lead Instructor at Taekwondo4Fitness. I obtained a license as a Taekwondo Instructor with British Taekwondo and earned my 1st-degree black belt in September 2018. The following year, in March 2019, I received my National Taekwondo Poomsae Judge certification, and in September 2019, I earned my 2nd-degree black belt. Along with my full-time IT job, I have developed my club in Aylesbury and continued my education in Taekwondo and Personal Training.

Commitment to Safeguarding

Due to my own experiences of abuse during childhood, my top priority has always been to protect children and vulnerable individuals in my care. To this end, I have completed education on being a Welfare Officer and my Level 2 Children’s Fitness Coach Qualification with Future Fit Training, as well as undergoing regular safeguarding training and workshops with providers such as UK Coaching.

Adaptation to COVID-19 and Online Shift

With the outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, I ceased in-person classes for the safety of my family and members. Instead, I shifted entirely online to keep my members active, fit and engaged during these challenging times.

Role as Chairman and Examination Director

In March 2021, Taekwondo4Fitness became an associate of the Independent Taekwondo Organisation (ITO), and I assumed the role of Chairman and Examination Director for Instructor & Trainer Education in the UK. As an ITO Examiner, I can now grade my students without relying on senior instructors, allowing my members to earn higher grades and an internationally recognized Kukkiwon black belt without dealing with unnecessary politics.

Resumption of Physical Sessions and Achievements

With the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions in July 2021, I resumed physical sessions for youth and adults in cooperation with Active Partnerships. In November of the same year, I took my last National Dan Grading in the UK and earned my 3rd-degree black belt and an honorary 4th-degree black belt from the Independent Taekwondo Organisation.

Relocation and Continued Training in Slovakia

We relocated to Slovakia as a result of Brexit. Since April 2022, I’ve honed my skills at Ilyo Taekwondo and recently obtained an additional trainer certification. I am planning to start offering classes in Košice in early 2023.

Focus on Health and Nutrition

COVID-19 is an unfortunate reality and has become widespread. Despite high vaccination rates, achieving herd immunity is not possible. Thus, it is inevitable that at some point, unvaccinated individuals, regardless of age and mobility, will encounter the virus. In light of this, we must prioritize our health and strengthen our immune systems.

Conclusion

Leading a healthy lifestyle can be challenging, especially for vegetarians and vegans. To support this, I’ve become a Nutrition Advisor and have followed a plant-based diet for over ten years. If you’re interested in learning more, please check out my Amazon Associate link. Remember to keep pushing forward, work harder, and never give up! If you have any questions or want to connect, please feel free to reach out.

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