I was 8 years old when I started Tae Kwon-Do (TAGB). It was my uncle Alan who wanted me to start learning so I was able to protect myself. There was a new class starting in Tiverton, Devon and my parents thought it would be better if I went to the first session as would meet the other members and have joined at the start of the group.
The starting lesson of the new class was arranged for 31st October, so naturally was quite upset at the time as couldn’t go “trick or treating” but was still excited to meet everyone and join the club. When we got there as a surprise Dad was going to start the classes with me so we could practice together and he could help me with things I wasn’t good at when we got home so I could do it by the time the next class was.
The instructor came over to take our details, and when he asked for my name, he stopped, looked up from his clip board with a surprised look on his face! “Hannah” means “number one” in Korean! Tae Kwon Do originates from South Korea, and as part of the classes we had to learn Korean terms so got off to a very good start!
I did all of my gradings but certainly had my ups and downs, although it worked really well because when dad wanted to give up, I encouraged him and visa versa. We eventually were ready to take our black belt grading. I was now 13 years old and very nervous.
We went up to the Tae Kwon Do TAGB headquarters in Bristol and to say I was nervous was a massive understatement! We had to wait for a while because they do the gradings in sets of 6 – 10 students at a time, split into different age and weight groups. My grading was before Dads, and no one was allowed to watch when we were called up to go into the Dojang.
The grading went well despite getting kicked in the face by the boy who I was paired against for 1 step sparring – something to demonstrate we are 100% accurate with our distance perception and are NOT supposed to touch our opponent however demonstrate moves on them finishing 1cm away from the target. He caught my nose which made my eyes water but I carried on – after my instructor told me that the examiners had noted this and were very proud that I stayed on and continued with the grading.
I am now 20 and not only does it feel cool to know that I am a black belt, but it has even helped me get jobs by showing my determination to achieve goals set by myself, it shows I have learnt discipline and respect for myslf and others – I would DEFINITELY recommend learning a martial art, it keeps you healthy, lets you meet lots of amazing people, and you can choose how much you train and how quickly you decide to grade and even take part in competitions!
I actually started teaching 4-7 year olds and then moved on to helping the senior class out and even helped train people for their black belt grading too! Such a rewarding fantastic sport to do!!!