Fitness and Self Defence

Mark Buckland

Branch Instructor

Branch / Region
Mt Annan Dojang / Macarthur NSW Region

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

I have been involved in Taekwondo for a while but took a lengthy break due to work commitments. I first started training in 1998 and graded for my first dan in 2000. After running halls under Master Paul between 2001 – 2003 I took a break and returned in 2017 when I retested for my first dan.

I started Taekwondo because I wanted to get fit but the thought of running or doing weights in the gym didn’t appeal to me. Learning new skills and progressing over time, as you do in martial arts, seemed a perfect fit for me and so I got started and haven’t looked back.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

There is no single highlight in Taekwondo for me. I am a bit of a perfectionist so I am always striving to get a little better on each kick, a bit faster on patterns or sharper technique. When I realise that I have made a little progress I get a lot of satisfaction.

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

I have now had two first dan gradings and they were both memorable. My first one in 2000 was in 40 degree heat in a hall at Oatley and I remember the two-on-one sparring continued so long that by the end I felt like a free-standing punching bag. The feeling of achievement getting through that grueling experience was indescribable. On the day of my re-test I had a sinus and chest infection and had been in bed all day so to say I was under the weather was an understatement. However, I turned up and after a 1.5 hour grading received confirmation that I had qualified for my first dan.

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

I train a minimum of 5 days a week. Three of those days are in Halls supplemented by my own morning training and the rest of the time is at home where I will put in at least an hour each session.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

My favourite move in Taekwondo is a inward crescent kick followed by a back kick.

What are your personal goals in Taekwondo?

My personal goal in Taekwondo is to continually improve my body and mind through the discipline of the Art.

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

Taekwondo has benefited my home by providing an outlet for my eldest boy to meet others and engage in physical activity. My eldest is on the autism spectrum and finds new situations and learning to be difficult. Over the months he has come to enjoy the challenge of Taekwondo and the joy of success as he progresses through the grades.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

The poet Rumi set three ‘gates’ for speech. Before speaking he suggested that people ask whether what they were intending to say was true, necessary and kind. I love this teaching (the quote is longer!) because it encourages thoughtfulness and kindness and the world would be a much better place with a bit more of both.

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

The best advice I could give is to recognise that the true journey in martial arts is, regardless of our belt or grade, for us to master ourselves. When you start with that goal in mind you will always be rewarded as you let the art reveal things about yourself you would never have known.

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

I love spending time with my wife and four children most of all. When not doing that, I love to read a good book.

Favourite food?

Chocolate. There is no competition! Well, maybe burgers!

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

In both cases, better than I am today.

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