Spirit Taekwondo -
our tkd family in Australia

Have you ever moved to the other side of town? Or to another state? Did you find it unsettling? How does the thought of moving halfway round the world grab you?

If it sounds daunting...

That's because is! And we know because we did it.

In 2008 we re-located from the UK to Australia to start new lives and new careers. Everything was upside down. And our support network of friends and family weren't nearby to call on.

We decided pretty early on that getting back to tkd training was very important for us all. A great decision!

And an on-line search lead us to our new tkd home- Spirit Taekwondo. Another great decision!

Spirit taekwondo club is a friendly family tkd center

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Spirit taekwondo club is a fabulous, family taekwondo center founded on traditional martial arts principles.

The atmosphere at Spirit tkd is exactly what we were looking for. The club is nurturing and friendly. The focus is on helping each student to achieve their best. And egos stay firmly outside the dojang door.

At our first tkd training session Spirit members shook our hands warmly. The kids took Leah by the hand and introduced her to the other little warriors! And great friendships quickly developed from there. It wasn't long before we felt part of the Spirit taekwondo community. And early in 2009 we joined the Spirit Korean tkd tour.

Teaching at Spirit taekwondo is based on wtf taekwondo with a traditional MooDuk Kwan base.

The Spirit syllabus is broad. We love the fact that we learn traditional MooDuk Kwan patterns as well as the Taegeuk forms. That elements of hapkido and grappling are part of our basic training. And that Master Jason's passion for taekwondo self-defense inspires us to develop our own unique style.

Master Jason Smith has endless enthusiasm

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Master Jason Smith is a 4th degree black belt in tkd. The first thing that struck us about him was his incredible enthusiasm for martial arts. He loves taekwondo. And it shows. He gives 100% in every training session, inspiring us to do the same.

Master Jason connects easily with kids and adults. And like all great taekwondo instructors he brings out the best in every student. He knows instinctively when students need pushing and when they need encouragement.

We were lucky enough to watch him teach Pro-kinetics to local teenage boys. This program has a martial arts and gymnastics base. Young people burn off excess energy, while learning self-control and building self-confidence. Watching Master Jason inspire these young lads was awesome.

For us as a family Master Jason is a brilliant teacher. He is guiding Leah gently but firmly towards her tkd black belt later this year. And for Deb and Neil Master Jason helps us build on the sparring skills we learned in the UK. We also learn great new self defense skills and our confidence continues to grow as we grow as martial artists.

In short we have huge respect for Master Jason. Not because he demands it - (he never asks for respect). But because he earns it. By being a great teacher, a great role model and a brilliant athlete.

We took some time to interview Master Jason.

How old were you when you started training in taekwondo? What made you decide to train? How did your training affect your life in those early days?

I started taekwondo training when I was 10, following a series of nasty bullying incidents. My family had recently moved to a different part of London and I found it hard to fit in.

When the bullying started I had nowhere to turn and much like most kids, I didn't tell anyone. After finally confiding in my older brother who had just started MooDuk Kwan taekwondo, he invited me to train alongside him. The result was a drastic change in my self-awareness and confidence. The training gave me the tools to cope with many of the bad things that were happening around me at the time.

How has your taekwondo training developed since then? What aspects of taekwondo have you been involved in? How do you feel your time spent competing helped you to develop as a martial artist?
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Over the years I've been extremely fortunate to experience the many colors that taekwondo has to offer. Because of this my life and not just my taekwondo has become far more diverse and broad.

Self-defense, sparring, demonstration poomse (pattern's) and techniques are all part of the same rich tapestry. I honestly don't feel you can fully appreciate it till you have been exposed to at least a little of all of it.

The beautiful thing about taekwondo is its continual growth and expansion. I love all the new aspects that are being developed like tricking and X.M.A.

As for my competition experience, I believe that the only way to test your self-control and ability is to put them under pressure. Nothing does this better and safer than a competitive environment. It's for this reason that I feel that facing mortal combat is an integral element in the development of what we do. It's an element that many schools are starting to shy away from, but when dealt with safely it can be an arena for immense growth.

What are your favourite aspects of taekwondo these days? Why?

Nothing is better than a good scrap! As a man, there's something primal about testing your skills against another. In that moment when nothing exists but you and one other and the moment when fists and feet meet, it's pure Zen and life doesn't get any simpler.

As our current master you inspire us with your enthusiasm and passion for taekwondo. We feel that you bring out the best in all of us. Which masters have influenced you the most and how?
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My mentors are wide and varied. Within the arena of martial arts I've always looked towards my original Masters Noal and Alex Cameron, whose words I still learn from. But there have been so many. Master Philip Somerset whose military and life experience humbled me without me even knowing it, not to mention my many Korean mentors whose attitude, perspective and ability inspire me to be more than what I am.

Outside the realm of martial arts, my mentors are the likes of Nelson Mandela, Gandhi and Muhammad Ali to name a few. I try and learn from their triumphs as well as their mistakes. I have learned much from the mistakes of others and credit those people for some of my growth also.

When did you start Spirit Taekwondo school and why?
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Spirit Taekwondo was started in 2004. We started teaching for the same reason as many teachers. When you value what you do, I think it's instinctive to want to pay it forward and enrich the lives of others. Sabomnim Anne Marie and I just wanted to pass on the skills and values that we had learned through our training.

Can you tell us more about the club?

Spirit Taekwondo was a work of passion for both Anne Marie Gannon and myself. It was developed as a work of passion first and a business second. The way in which the school was developed was the aim to provide all the elements that are required for full martial training, this means mental as well as physical. As time has passed and we as teachers became more learned our methods and ways of teaching became more versatile. Over the years Spirit has grown and expanded to offer a broad kaleidoscope of skills, all within the taekwondo spectrum. Spirit's Masters have grown and so has the club.

What kind of training do you offer? Who is the club open to?

The training we offer ranges from tournament training, traditional poomse to character building and confrontation exercises.

Much of our training is based on the individual and not the system. I've found this perspective allows us to build far more confident and stronger students, not just technically proficient students.

As for who is the club open to, the answer is simple. The club is open to anyone who is ready to step through the door. It takes great courage to step through the door for the first time, but we must remember that our courage only serves us if we keep it - the road to black belt is only the beginning.

You have dedicated a huge portion of your life to martial arts. To developing yourself and others. You always approach Spirit taekwondo training sessions with great enthusiasm and good humour. What keeps you training? And what keeps you teaching?

As stated in the question, self-development. It's a great honor to teach and to have people willing to learn from you. As I have learned the teaching road is not an easy one, but it's highly rewarding. This process is one that enables me to grow, and develop greater ways to serve others. Can you think of anything more rewarding?

The fact is that I'm no different from my students, just a little further up the road. I'm still a student myself, and for me this is the great drive and responsibility of what we do. We are all students. And we all teachers. And we're all trying to give our best.

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