Fitness and Self Defence

Elysha Dunlop

Branch Instructor

Branch / Region

Farrer Dojang / Canberra ACT Region

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

I have been training in Taekwondo for over 13 years. I started with my little brother and we wanted to do something fun, meet new people, keep fit and learn some self defence.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

Both my 1st and 2nd dan black belt gradings were highlights of my taekwondo career, and easily the most challenging events of my life so far. My jumping spinning heel kick at my 2nd dan grading was a major achievement for me as it was a kick that I had feared to attempt for 8 years.

Watching my students perfect a kick or a pattern that they had been struggling with is always a highlight of my Taekwondo success as an Instructor. Watching my fellow black belts and my husband achieve personal goals is also a great feeling.

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

My black belt grading was one of the biggest achievements of my life. I did a huge amount of training to get to the grading including taekwondo classes most nights of the week, running, cycling, swimming, aerobics and yoga classes, as well as being on a strict diet.

I pushed myself both physically and mentally to achieve my black belt grading. I performed my pattern, a long and exhausting period of two-on-one free sparring, and numerous board breaks. My most challenging board break was my spinning heel kick which I had not been able to break before my grading. At the grading, after five attempts and a very sore foot, I finally broke the board and it was an amazing feeling! After that I nailed the remaining board breaks including a two board turning kick and downward knife-hand strike. It was a great sense of achievement as the Master Instructor put my belt around my waist to see how proud my friends and family were. As my Instructor’s first black belt, it was a great feeling to make him proud.

How often do you train? In Taekwondo? Gym? etc

My training can consist of anywhere between two nights and five nights a week of taekwondo classes as well as ‘garage’ trainings, pilates and home stretching exercises.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

I don’t have any favourite moves, but I do like any kick that I can perfect technically…. and that doesn’t involve jumping! I love patterns, and any board breaks that involve using my hands.

What are your goals in Taekwondo for 2009?

My personal goals are to work towards doing the splits, as well as mastering the ‘scorpion’ kick. I’d like to perfect all my patterns, and become a role model for women to join taekwondo.

I’d like to further develop and grow the Farrer dojang, and assist all my students achieve their own individual goals. I’d also like to assist my husband to achieve his 3rd dan.

What would you like to see more of or less of in United Taekwondo that could benefit members?

I would love to see more families involved in United Taekwondo. What a fantastic way to spend time with the family as well as keep fit and learn something that could benefit every aspect of your life. You are never too old to learn taekwondo!

Has Taekwondo benefited home life? If so in what way?

Taekwondo has been a large part of my life since I was in my early teens. Taekwondo has helped me grow into the person I am today and has made me more disciplined, given me an eye for detail, and has helped me to be more confident in everything I do. I also met my husband at taekwondo, and a lot of my closest friends.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

“You don’t fail when you fall, you fail when you refuse to get up”.

This is one of my favourite quotes, and has helped me to keep going through both of my black belt gradings. It means that although you might not get it the first time it doesn’t mean you have failed, you have only failed if you do not keep trying.

“Always make your desire to reach your goal, stronger than your fear of failure”.

If you let your fear of failure become forefront in your mind then chances are you will fail. Always keep this in mind and work towards your goal, and always believe that you will achieve it.

“Know Yourself. Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful”.

Although a funny quote it is quite true. Knowing yourself can help you become a better taekwondo practitioner and a better person overall.

“Handle every stressful situation like a dog. If you can’t eat it or play with it, just pee on it and walk away”.

No comment required, this one just makes me laugh.

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

The best piece of advice I can give is to always strive to be the best you can be. My instructor always used to tell me to aim for the sky (literally) and I believe this should be true in everything you do. Don’t be afraid at your first class, everyone has to start somewhere! Taekwondo is about trying new things, learning self defence, making new friends and most of all having fun!

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

My two favourite activities are to ride my motorbike and to curl up on the couch with my husband and two cats. I also love doing anything outside particularly near a river or the ocean. Any activities that involve coffee are great too.

Favourite movie(s) and why?

I have a huge number of favourite movies, and I have listed a couple below:

  • Cool Runnings – because it’s amazing what team work, a big dream, and a little willpower can do!
  • Most Tony Jaa and Jet Li movies for their amazing martial arts skills
  • Lilo and Stitch – because Stitch tends to be on the go all the time, seems to make more mess when he tries to clean up, believes he’s bullet proof….. which strangely reminds me a lot of my husband!

Favourite food?

Far too many to name! But favourites include seafood, Chinese, and my husband’s spaghetti!

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

Developing and promoting United Taekwondo in the region and surrounding areas, and watching my students achieve their black belts.

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