Fitness and Self Defence

John Tyler


Branch / Region

Oatley West Dojang / St George NSW Region

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

I have been training since 2007.  My three children were training at the time I started so we could do an activity together as a family.  I had always been interested in learning a martial art, and realised I should be doing something to stay fit as at the time I did very little exercise, and definitely nothing regular.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

Although achieving my black belt was special, I think being asked to run a centre would be the highlight.  I was quite nervous at the prospect as I felt there were other black belts with higher skill levels that would do a better job.  It was humbling to be asked, but I was also very pleased.

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

Coming up to my first dan black belt grading I was attending double classes at Oatley each week.  One of the other students at the time going for grading was Dusan, a big, fit Czech man who trained and sparred very hard, and although it was tough, I enjoyed training with him as he always tried his best, and never slackened off – we worked well together.  We also had Chung Moo perfectly synchronised, which was a buzz when we did it.

At the grading there were several candidates going for black belt.  I recall going through the two board side kick and two board turning kick without a problem, but had several attempts at a one board jumping back kick as my accuracy was not there.  Unfortunately I got Chief Instructor John’s fingers!  I also recall Instructor Bruce delivering a very solid side kick into my ribs during the sparring.

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

I conduct the Oatley West classes twice a week, and try and do as much of those classes as possible, particularly the warm-up and fitness sessions.  In addition I do two or three classes at Oatley each week, making a big effort to attend the senior training.  I also try to cycle to work once a week and on Saturday mornings, but with everything else I have to do, that does not always happen.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

I like twin front kicks and double foot flying side kicks and other jumping moves.  Although I am not as young and fit as some of the other instructors, I think this is what sets taekwondo apart and makes it much more fun.

What are your personal goals in Taekwondo?

My goals fall into two groups.

For the Oatley West Centre:

  • I would like to build up the hall to be a strong, vibrant training centre,
  • Develop leadership skills of black belts and senior coloured belts by giving them opportunites in the running activities in, or for the class,
  • Develop camaraderie within the centre so it is able to function as a team,
  • Train one of the students who started at Oatley West all the way through to their black belt.

For myself, I want to

  • Improve my taekwondo skills and general fitness,
  • Learn more about the history and theory of taekwondo,
  • Improve my knowledge of human anatomy and physiology as it relates to taekwondo.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

My favourite saying is a quote from Dame Margot Fonteyn, and I have used it for many years.

“The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one self seriously.  The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.”

Apply yourself diligently to any task you do, but don’t become pompous or arrogant.  Most importantly, make sure you have fun in your life.

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

Taekwondo is a personal thing.  Plan what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there, and measure yourself against the benchmarks you have set for yourself.  Enjoy the social aspect, make new friends, but your achievements are your own, and you should not compare yourself with others.  Everyone’s journey is individual.

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

I have been involved in St John Ambulance for many years as a member of both the first aid services and training branches.  Currently I am a cadet officer in the St George division of first aid services, and a volunteer trainer in the training branch.

I enjoy spending time with the family, especially during holidays where the bustle of daily life disappears and you can relax and unwind.

I also enjoy reading, gardening and photography, none of which I have enough time for, and the latter two of which I am really a novice at, as my garden can attest to, but would like to improve my skills in both areas.

Favourite movie(s) and why?

I am not much of a movie person, as I prefer to read books.  Movies are never as good as the books!

Favourite food?

Anything that can be cooked on a BBQ – pork loin chops marinaded in Char Siu sauce, a butterflied leg of lamb with olive oil and rosemary, or some nice Tasmanian salmon with a creamy dill sauce.  I like vegetables too!  My particular favourite at the moment is sliced potato and onion fried on the hotplate with fresh basil.  I like cooking myself as I find it a great way to relax, and herbs are one thing I can grow successfully, so I can pick them straight from the garden.

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

In 5 years I still see myself running the Oatley West centre, but training up one of the members there to take over from me.

Being quite myopic, 10 years in the future is just too far ahead to see.

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