Fitness and Self Defence

Geo Castaneda

Branch Instructor

Branch / Region

Carlton Dojang / St George NSW Region

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

My father introduced me to martial arts when he took me to his judo dojo when I was five years old.  After I watched him train I decided that I wanted to be a martial artist.  Since then I had sporadic martial arts training, particularly in Shotokan Karate and Arnis.  Unfortunately a big distraction called “adolescence” prevented me from pursuing martials arts formally, however I remained an avid martial arts follower.

Fast forward to 2011 and going through a “mid-life crisis” my family and I attended a St George Region United Taekwondo grading at Senior Instructor Andrew Parkinson’s invitation.  There we were introduced to Senior Instructor Cael Vogele, my teacher.  The Monday after that my three sons and I began our Taekwondo journey.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

Taekwondo has given me plenty of memorable moments especially those that involve my sons.  Turning up for our first grading as white belts and realising that we are now part of the United Taekwondo family is one such highlight.

A memorable milestone of my personal United Taekwondo journey however is becoming a black belt and being entrusted to teach Taekwondo as a Branch Instructor.

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

I was very anxious in the weeks leading up to my black belt grading.  I actually became physically ill and I was also carrying a chronic foot injury.  My teacher trained me hard, and often I was left extremely spent.  I developed some self-doubt about my skills and I started to compare myself with others.  My teacher in his own special way removed most of that doubt and taught me to trust in my abilities.

The day before grading I decided to embrace the event with a happy heart and confidence instead of the uneasiness that plagued me.  Soon after I arrived at the hall with my family I kissed my wife and hugged my sons who were grading as well.  I went on my way and met up with my grading partner.  We warmed up by doing our patterns then Master Paul called us to line up.  Master Paul took us to task with patterns, sparring, then board breaks.  Whilst sparring I remember the exhaustion but I remember not giving up.  I had some trouble with the board breaks, particularly my spinning back kick board break but eventually broke all the boards.

When all of that was over Master Paul ordered me to approach him and told me to take off my brown belt.  I allowed myself to exhale then.

He then announced “Promoted to First Degree Black Belt Instructor” as he wrapped the black belt around my waist.  I felt humbled and very moved by the moment but most of all I felt proud.

How often do you train in Taekwondo, gym, etc?

I teach two nights a week and train with my teacher on Saturdays.  In between that I do cardio training and calisthenics.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

For now I favour the side kick and spinning back kick for its sheer power.

What are your personal goals in Taekwondo?

To continue my Taekwondo journey and become a better martial artist; improve my skills and become a better teacher so I can bring out the best in my students.  Perhaps in the not too distant future I will be able to teach my grandchildren Taekwondo as well.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

Our greatest glory is in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Never give up.  Learn from your mistakes to make your next attempt better than the last!

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

First of all take the plunge, take it a step at a time, a day at a time, give it your best.

Challenge yourself, be true to yourself but most of all be kind to yourself.

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

I love cooking and then eating what I have cooked; spending idle time with my family; reading; taking the family for long drives.

Favourite movie(s) and why?

The Godfather I and II & Kingdom of Heaven.

Beyond the violence the movies are about honour, loyalty and family.  Without honour, loyalty and family we are nothing.

Favourite food?

Too many to mention.

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

Working continuously to learn the skills necessary to become a 2nd and 3rd degree black belt.  Continue to improve as a Taekwondo teacher.  Carry on and uphold the United Taekwondo legacy at Carlton.

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