This summer the Jones family traveled to Penang a small island off the west coast of Malaysia on our summer holidays. Following Mr John Vennard’s recommendation I decided to take the plunge and train at the Elite Taekwon-do dojang in the centre of the island (on the second floor above Dominos pizza) with their instructor Ms Sharon Chan V degree.
Penang Group Quick introductions were carried out (thanks Mr Vennard for arranging this) with the exchanging of gifts and then I was surprised to see a familiar face, a large poster of Grand Master Nicholls hanging on the wall.
The lessons themselves turned out to be quite similar to our own in Stoke Gifford, with some noticeable differences; the main one of these being the 34+ degrees temperature and high humidity even though it was 8:30 in the evening. I was dripping with sweat from just walking up the stairs and the heat drains your energy. With the lessons being an hour and a half we spent the first half hour stretching and warming up followed by lots of kicking practice. Intositting stance (Annun Sogi) perform a side kick and return to sitting stance 30 on each leg followed by 3 height side kicks low, medium and high, with your partner defining the height with their hands. Low under their outstretched hands, medium between their hands and high above their hands, again 30 on each leg, the three heights performed without putting the leg down being 1 kick! Lots of emphasis being placed on the quality of the kicks but also on balance and speed. The kicks went on for a total of 45 minutes by which time my thighs were burning.
This was followed by a gentle warm down of 30 press ups, 30 stomach crunches and low plank/high plank for a count of 30 each. All repeated a number of times. Finally more stretching with flexibility the key.
Gareth & Ms ChanI discovered that Ms Chan has the same problem as Ms Burridge; an inability to count properly with 30 turning into 40, 50 or even 60 as Ms Chan somehow got confused on what number came next or managed to forget where we were!!!!Another night after a harsh warm up I was introduced to their sparring. No pads, no gloves and no helmets. Ms Chan explained that if a fight breaks out on the street you have to be prepared to defend yourself without any protection and as an important part of Taekwon-do is self control, students should be able to spar without causing each other serious injury. I was understandably a little nervous but I think I did ok, first one on one, then two on one, with me being the one!In summary the training was hard but good. It was a whole new experience and one that I intend to repeat given the opportunity. I would like to thank Ms Sharon Chan for letting me train under her watchful eye her students for making me feel very welcome and in particular one student Joshua Lia (I degree black belt) a friend and training partner who looked after me and showed me the Malaysian hospitality.
Written by Gareth Jones
Stoke Gifford TKD