Fitness and Self Defence

Anthony Bardsley

Branch Instructor

Branch / Region

Phillip Dojang and Chisholm Dojang / Canberra ACT Region

How long have you been training in Taekwondo and what got you started?

I started training in 2004. I used to live across the road from a high-school where Taekwondo classes were held, so I thought I would go over and give it a try one day.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

Next to getting my black belt and then becoming an instructor a few years later, my most memorable highlight was nailing a jumping back kick and breaking a board.  This was my first board break (I still have the board on my wall-unit at home). Starting my own Branch and seeing my students developing in the art from my teaching has also been another major highlight.

Describe your first black belt grading and what it took to get you there?

In the lead up to my black belt grading I was training 6 times a week and spent at least an hour every morning before work practicing my patterns, sparring and working on my fitness.

The actual grading was an exciting and nervous affair, with my stomach in knots and full of butterflies, that kind of excitement and fear that pumps adrenaline to every last muscle fibre in the body and brings with it the inherent nausea.  I remember going through warm-ups hoping that the black belt applicants would be called up last so I had more time to prepare, but at the same time wishing that we would be first to get it all over and done with.

As it turned out the black belt applicants were up first, then again about quarter of the way through to do one-step-sparing, then again half way through for some board breaks and free sparing, and then again between every other colour belt’s grading to do more free sparing. And then it came to the end and the black belt applicants were called up again, and for something different: we did some free sparing… I remember this last round of free sparring was particularly full on, with some particularly ‘enthusiastic’ black belts (although I wouldn’t want to mention any names like Instructor Lachlan or anything like that). I was always sparring two to three other black belts – this lasted for about 15 minutes – but it felt like hours at the time.

We then finished with some patterns and were then awarded with our black belts. This was by far the most exhausting, yet the most rewarding, experience of my life.

How often do you train in Taekwondo, gym etc?

Ideally I train 5 times a week in addition to teaching my own class twice a week. Other than training I am at the gym 3-4 times a week doing a lot of strength work.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

Despite having a “sweet hocky body” and being generally heavyset (I’m 6’2” and weigh about 100Kgs) I love being in the air, I love all jumping kicks with my favourite being a triple jumping-spinning-crescent-kick/ triple jumping-spinning-slapping-kick. While on the ground, my favourite kick is a spinning-heel-kick and my favourite hand technique is either a twin-vertical-punch or head-grab elbow-smash. Although, nothing really beats a perfectly executed side kick.

What are your goals in Taekwondo?

To get my 2nd Dan Black Belt and to expand my student base at my training centre.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a
successful personality and duplicate it.”
– Bruce Lee

This is particularly relevant to the more senior belts and especially black belts. The art of Taekwondo teaches you a great deal of very important techniques – but learning how to use them is the most important lesson one can learn, and it has to be self-taught. While you might look good copying the technique of your instructor or another student, your own definitive style looks much better – you will notice that each instructor and senior black belts all do the same moves but they all have their own style.

Best advice you can give someone training and wishing to start training in Taekwondo?

Never be afraid to ask a black belt or an instructor for help.  There are no silly questions. That’s what we are there for! Absolutely everyone in the room has been in the same position – we have all been white belts!

Learning the art of Taekwondo is a personal journey so take it at your own pace, but never be afraid to push yourself or try new things!

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

I love riding my motorbike. Playing music (guitar/sax/drums). Going to the gym. Rock climbing. Playing computer games (PS3, World of Warcraft etc) when I get a bit of downtime.

Favourite movie(s) and why?

Game of Death 2 – My dad got me this as a Christmas present when I was about 7 and I think it’s what got me interested in Martial Arts, and the fight scene choreography is just awesome!

Favourite food?

Weet-bix and Steak (obviously not together).

With regards to Taekwondo where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?

In the next 5 years I would like to have achieved my 3rd Dan with a fairly large student base.

In the next 10 years – be a well-respected senior instructor across the martial arts community.

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