When I began my tae kwon do journey I was just 12 years old, me and my friend started training at Dudley TAGB to keep fit and start an exciting new hobby. My friend progressed to green belt and gave up but I decided I really wanted to get my black belt. In most gradings even though I thought I had failed and would often come out crying I actually achieved A passes from Grandmaster Paul Donnelly so I must have been doing something right. In 2016 I was ready to take my black belt. It wasn't easy... we had pre-black belt sessions in the run up to the day and I vividly remember the one where it was so hot in the room from all of the bodies that I thought I might pass out doing the exercises... luckily I didn't. I went to Bristol with my dad and everyone was nervous, first was the theory questions where we were grilled by three Grandmasters. Then the floorwork, set sparring, patterns and finally the sparring which seemed to last forever!
I found out I had passed and carried on training through college, then I did my second Dan black belt after 2 years, failing on my first attempt I was not disheartened but I went back and tried again, I tried even harder than the first time because failure was not an option - I passed. Finally, I passed my 3rd Dan black Belt in 2015 and two children later I am still training to achieve my 4th Dan. This year sees us celebrate 10 years of Sandwell Tae Kwon Do and I am thrilled to say we survived moving organisations, the covid pandemic, lockdown and now the cost of living crisis.
I had just graduated from the University of Birmingham and was ready for a new challenge. It was April 2013 and I was scouring the area for a venue, I would go on weekends and drive around West Bromwich and Oldbury looking for a suitable place, I wasn't from the area so it was a huge risk opening up and not knowing the demographic or where to go! I saw a church as I was walking around, turning a corner I saw that there was a small hall attached to it with car parking. Brilliant I thought. We built the club up slowly running adult and children classes and first it was just my friends who came along, but then people started flooding in from the local community and we had great times at the venue, we seemed to get too big for the hall so I opened another class at West Bromwich Leisure Centre when that opened and we have been there ever since. With lockdown the church stopped taking bookings and only now have we reopened this class but I am hopeful it will build back up to pre-pandemic levels.
In 2014 I opened Oldbury Tae Kwon Do club at The Portway Lifestyle Centre and we continued here until 2020. After lockdown I started training with my dad's kung fu Instructor Ken Hoult in Dudley and I teach at his gym once a week now Saracen's Martial Arts. My children now train and have just completed their grading as green tag belts. I am looking forward to the day they achieve black belt (then I will feel old!)
We are going for a club meal on Saturday 15th April 2023 at the Vine in West Bromwich to celebrate our 10 year Anniversary and it would be great if as many people could join us as possible with your families.
So as one decade with many ups and downs draws to a close I would like to say thank you to everyone who has been on the journey with us training and competing, achieving belts and black belts, and generally supporting the club.
Here's to the next 10 years.