Fitness and Self Defence

Peter Dunlop

Branch Instructor

Canberra ACT Region

Farrer Dojang

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

I have been training in Taekwondo for about 20 years. I got interested in martial arts after watching my first Van Damme movie and was amazed to watch someone kick above their own head height.

Highlights of your Taekwondo success?

Other than gaining my 3rd degree black belt, I would have to say the highlight of my Taekwondo success was seeing one of my students, who started under me as a white belt, progress over the years and gain his 2nd dan black belt at an amazing grading where he demonstrated all the things I value and respect in a skilled Taekwondo practitioner including power, speed, flexibility and adaptability. I haven’t been that proud of something since my kids were born.

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

I did what I thought was a great deal of training to get me to my first black belt grading. My weekly regime consisted of several morning rowing sessions for cardio fitness; 5 gym workouts to strengthen my muscles, and doing 4 Taekwondo sessions with an additional private garage session most weekends. Even with all this training I still felt unfit on the day, I really underestimated how hard a black belt grading could be. I had trained and practiced all the board breaks before the grading however on the day I was thrown a curve ball and told to do a different break to one of my core breaks. After my initial shock to this instruction, I just remembered that my friends and parents were in the audience and I did not want to let them down. I then smashed the boards first go. I will never forget that huge feeling of accomplishment when the master instructor announced my promotion; the hard training was definitely worth it. It was also on my first black belt grading day that I gained a new respect for adaptability and preparedness.

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

My current training consists of a range of martial arts including Taekwondo, Jiu-Jitsu, Eskrima, and Kumdo (Korean sword). More recently I have discovered Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and have started training with this art to compliment my stand up skills. All of this training means my training week fills up very quickly.

Favourite Taekwondo move or moves?

I was originally attracted to Taekwondo because of the big dynamic kicks and spent years practicing these. My focus in this area culminated in me breaking a board held about 8 feet off the ground (about the same height as the light bulb on your average ceiling) and jumping a piano while doing a flying sidekick. More recently I have taken less of an interest in the art side of taekwondo (flashy kicking techniques) and more of an interest in the martial side with my focus now being more about practical self-defense, studying tactics used by fighters and better understanding body mechanics. Despite my changed focus, I will always appreciate the skill it takes for someone to pull off a 540 or even a 720 spinning kick.

What are your goals in Taekwondo?

I am training for my 4th degree black belt at the moment which is scheduled for December 2014. By this time I intend on demonstrating a range of Taekwondo skills including power, dynamics, ground techniques, kicking, board breaking and patterns. On a personal level, I want to bring the martial arts community closer together. There is a lot of politics in martial arts which can often take away from the focus of bettering oneself for the greater good of the community.

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

I would like to see more families join. We have many kids training but not many parents together with their kids. There are not many sports out there where a parent can train with their kids and Taekwondo gives people this opportunity. In today’s busy life, there is nothing more important than spending time with your family. Why not kill two birds with one stone and get fit while spending time with your family. After all, a family that kicks together sticks together!

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

I met my wife through Taekwondo and we have two kids now so home life is great. It does not matter if you are joining Taekwondo for fitness reasons or for social reasons, Taekwondo has something to offer everyone.

Your favourite saying and what this means?

  • “Its a funny thing about life, if you accept nothing less than the best, you very often get it.” 
    I like this quote because it reminds me that I should never just be happy with my technique, I should always strive to improve it.
  • “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit” 
    This quote is a good reminder to all students that excellent technique, if practiced regularly, will over time become a habit.
  • “Eighty percent of success is showing up” 
    Well actually this is just a reminder to students who have not been to training in a few weeks…. you know who you are.
  • “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!” 
    Too often people do not push themselves hard enough and then wonder why those once junior to them are now senior.
  • “Pain is weakness leaving your body…” 
    I like this saying because every time I am in pain either from, or during hard trainings, I remind myself that it is just the weakness leaving.
  • “Sweat is just fat crying”
    Just another one similar to the last.

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

“Focus on black and never look back.”
It is just a catchy phrase that reminds me the importance of having a goal and continually focusing on it until it eventuates.

What other activities apart from Taekwondo do you enjoy?

I enjoy anything that is fast and/or dangerous. Apart from that I am happiest after a good work out when I am spending time with my family.

Favourite movie(s) and why?

There are several really great movies that deserve mention and I have ranked them in order:

  1. Ong Bak – Even though this movie is subtitled and in Thai, Tony Jaa is an amazing martial artist who does near impossible tricks without using stunt men or ropes.
  2. Fists of Legend – Personally I think this is Jet Li’s finest piece of work. It is a remake of the early Bruce Lee movie Fist of Fury except Jet Li’s version is better.
  3. Best of the Best – A motivational movie which of course revolves around martial arts.
  4. No Retreat No Surrender – the movie which started it all for me. Van Damme, although the bad guy, is awesome. The main character though shows that hard training and sheer determination will always win.

Favourite food?

Is beer a food group? Ok assuming it isn’t, I would have to say eggs – they are easy, tasty and healthy.

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

5 Years – A well rounded tactical martial artist with skills equally as good in close quarters as well as at distance.
10 Years – Helping my kids progress to junior black belt.

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