Competing in Martial Arts Internationally

It is most people’s dream to be able to compete one day for their respective Countries in all kinds of sports and disciplines. After many gruelling, sweat and pain induced sessions for the few who train before, during and after a fairly normal life, (Working and family routines) day in day out with no apparent end in sight, it becomes a relief and excitement to hear the news, that you have been selected to represent your Country at the next World Championships! However, you know that this will be a hard task, as was the case for Mr Dean Matthews IV and Mr

Wayne Brooks I, and all the support team involved with the mammoth trip to the ITF World Championships held in Caloundra, North of Brisbane,

Australia in July 2005.

Mr Matthews and Myself have been involved with TaeKwon-Do for 28 and 18 years respectively with many ups and downs. This time though we decided to make such a large trip to Australia a life time experience, and had been planning the trip ever since it was announced at the last World

Championships in Greece in 2003. Knowing that this would be a long trip, we decided to make a round the world expedition and an experience that we would remember for a long time to come.

After many months of research and finding the correct dates and places to stay and things to see and do, we had come up with our final trip and this would include places such as Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, the Cook Islands and America. So in April 2005, we booked our flights, 7 in total and began our plans to see what we could do around the different places, which would wherever possible involve TaeKwon-Do.

After many more sessions of hard training, the time had come to begin packing for our 29-day trip to many exciting places around the World. So on the 4th July we headed to Heathrow to begin our journey to the other side of the World. After checking onto our flight and finding we had been given, lets say one of the smallest seats in economy class, we hatched a plan to try and secure the exit seats. So with our Courtesy,

Integrity and Perseverance the kind flight girls allowed us to stretch out in the exit seats. (Tip: If flying say you are going to compete at a World Championships and if legs get cramped will effect performance) well it worked for us! As this was going to be a long journey, we split the flight up and made a stop off for two days in Hong Kong. After arriving during the late afternoon, we had a nice surprise when booking into the YMCA (Yes, this place was no normal hostel. Could safely say that the quality was a 4 star and at £20 per night, was a bargain!) Also things were just getting better (Could this be a good sign of things to come?) we were upgraded to a suite, just brilliant.

On the 7th July we were on our way again to the World Championships and now things were beginning to get serious. Unfortunately, while at Hong

Kong airport the sad news came through on the televisions in the terminal, that the dreadful bombings had taken place in London. After such a great two days in Hong Kong and watching the news that London had won the Olympics the night before, it was a more sombre mood upon leaving for

Sydney. While at the airport we started to realise that we were getting closer to the event, as we bumped into the Hong Kong ITF team and also the Cambodian ITF team. Also we met up with Master Prewett (ITF Wales President), who was joining us on the flight to Sydney.

Once we arrived at Sydney Airport we had a small hop onto another flight to the Sunshine Coast Airport and we also met up with all the other people who were travelling separately due to time and flights etc. So it was good to see Master Taylor (ITF Wales Coach) and the others after such a long trip. Eventually we arrived at the Venue and began our process of registration and a good sleep to recover from the jet lag.

After the first day of competition, Wales were doing very well and had bagged our first medal of the Championships, with Mr Dean Matthews securing a solid silver medal in the 4th Dan patterns event and only losing to the North Korean in the final. Mr Wayne Brooks, who was entering his first senior Championships in the 1st Dan patterns, went through the first round but lost in the second round. However, this was a great experience for Wayne. By day three of the competition it was getting hotter and again we had two competitors entering the sparring events. Wayne again put in a sterling effort and after some great bouts got through to the semi – finals and after a very close fought bout, Wayne won a bronze medal losing to the eventual Champion from the Czech Republic. Dean also had a good day in the ring beating a number of competitors, but would lose eventually in the quarterfinal stage to the local Australian competitor. Sweet revenge for the local Oz competitors, as Dean had taken out their 4th Dan in the patterns event on day one.

After a hard week of competition ITF Wales members came out of this championships a well deserved 10th position in the World rankings and this showed that ITF Wales maybe small in numbers compared to many other countries, but the quality and experience from all who are involved from coaching, management and support- ers shows that we are becoming a stronger team. We are grateful to all the events and party nights that were held to fully fund the two competitors to attend the World Championships in Australia. So after a great barbecue at our apartment and a dip in our Jacuzzi on the roof, with all the ITF Wales guys, we packed and sent back some of our equipment and items that we did not want to carry with us for the next leg of the journey.

TaeKwon-Do is such a great way of meeting new friends and I had been in contact with an old student of mine, whom I had taught when I set up my first TaeKwon Do class at Heriot-Watt University TKD School, Edinburgh in 1996. Ed Higginson had been one of my first ever students and had graded to red belt 2nd Kup. He had met an Australian girl, and was living with his now wife in Sydney. So it was great to see him when he picked Dean and myself up from the airport and took us out to see the real sights of Sydney. It turns out that Ed has now decided after meeting again and talking about the old times, to start training with a class in Sydney, and has his sights on a black belt. Good on you Ed!

After a few days in Sydney and seeing the sights, we them jumped onto a flight to the adrenaline capital of the World, Queenstown, New Zealand.

We had plans for many days of activities and seeing as that in July it is winter in the southern Hemisphere it was going to be an extreme 5 days. We had crazily booked a skydive a few month before, but the nerves were getting worrying. Dean and myself had, the day before the planned jump, been on a jet boat and helicopter ride to try and get into the adrenaline rush but those activities did not compare to the sheer thrill of jumping out of a plane from 12,000 ft. It was even more exciting than entering the power and special technique events at the World Championships! The morning of the jump I had taken my dobok with me. After asking if I would be allowed to wear my dobok, the jumpmaster agreed it would be ok to wear if it could fit over the jump suit. I was really hoping that he would tell me off and say that I could not jump now! How wrong was I this time, he just smiled and said great idea mate! The Kiwi’s are absolutely mad but great fun.

We then headed to Auckland for a night out with some old friends, again from TaeKwon Do; we had a great meal, which had been arranged, by Mr

John Sawdon II, Mr Mark Banivech IV from ITF New Zealand and their partners at the top of Auckland’s Sky tower. Again it was great to see old friends and the hos-pitality was wonderful and we hope to see them again in Wales in the near future. We finally left New Zealand and were beginning our trip back home via the Cook Islands and finally Los Angeles. Upon arrival in the Cook Islands, we found the pace of life a nice change, from dashing around the place to total relaxation. So we had a few days planned for some more activities, mainly diving and swimming around the various lagoons of Rarotonga.

Dean and myself managed to do some great wreck diving and also meet some great new friends. It is typical that we are in the furthest place you can be from the UK and we meet some guys from Cardiff, on a trip around the World! Again we managed to get our doboks out and get some great shots that are a great memento of the trip. We also found that some of the locals were also aware of the World Championships, as the Cook

Islands had just been rewarded with a double World Champion in the female section. So the news was New ITF world Champion all over the island and great to see such a small Country in the World doing well at the Championships.

Our final leg of this epic journey was a few days of over indulgence in Los Angeles, USA. Also it was Dean’s (21st Birthday again, honest!), so we decided to take a few of the sights in and hire a car! If you think the roads are bad in the UK then try LA out! We had a great day at Six

Flag theme park, again trying to scare the life out of us and just about managing to survive the biggest, fastest and wildest rides in the

World (the American way). Then an experience where we may have had to use our TaeKwon Do skills, after getting lost in down town LA but we managed to find the right side of the road, sorry Dean was confused! We had a great night out on Sunset strip, where I managed to lose a pool match to an Irish girl! Self-Control was all in a day’s work for us.
Finally we took a trip down to what people claim is the maddest place in the World, and we will agree with them that Venice Beach is lets say, different! This was our final day and had some time to just sit on the beach and look back at what a great trip this had been.

We concluded that if we had not been training in TaeKwon Do then both of us would probably not have been on such an amazing trip of a life time and that we would not have known as many people all around the World, that we can say are true

TaeKwon Do friends. Having experi enced such an amazing time during this trip, as an Instructor of two fairly new schools Lisvane & Marshfield

TKD schools, Cardiff. My next goal will be too encourage as many of the young talent that is coming through the classes, so that one day my stu dents will have the same opportunity that I have had with ITF Wales and

TaeKwon Do over the past 18 years.

Finally having taken a trip of such magnitude, with a special friend such as Dean Matthews and also Dean being my instructor is something special, that not many

Instructor/Student relationships can claim these days. Finally I would like to thanks Master Prewett and Master Taylor for all the effort and support over the last few years and sticking by ITF Wales. Ultimately, the final accolade has to be given to Grand Master Rhee Ki Ha who without doubt, none of us would be what or where we are today. Tae Kwon.

Mr Christopher Black II Dan Bsc, MRICS teaches at Lisvane & Marshfield TKD for further informa tion, please call 07866461047. Mr Dean Matthews IV Dan teaches at Cyncoed and Cardiff University TKD for further information, please call 02920 791405. All the schools are members of the UKTA

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