Angus Rooms (Head Instructor)
I can’t quite believe I am writing a piece about this wonderful martial art just a year after nervously turning up for my first lesson.
How did I end up going along? Well, I was really looking to get fit after spending far too many years sat behind a desk or the wheel of a car, and letting the “fit me” of my early-20’s gradually turn into someone who suddenly realised he was out of breath in his mid-40’s kicking a ball with his sons for more than 5 minutes!
Having previously joined a gym, wisely investing a week’s wage on signing up just to get along once, I realised I needed something that was going to get me engaged and interested in order to keep going.
Martial arts had interested me since getting involved in a few things as a kid, but I must admit to being daunted ahead of my first lesson. The guy on the phone who ran the local class seemed much friendlier than I had expected, but I still had visions of being treated as “fresh meat” when I got there.
It could not have been more different! I was treated with warmth and respect from the very first minute I arrived and, before I knew it, was immersed in the class, being helped and encouraged by everyone there. Whilst most students have a “home” class (dojang) that they train at, we have the opportunity to train at any number of different classes being run on different nights, and they are all equally welcoming.
Like many martial arts, Choi Kwang Do follows set principles revolving around how the skills we learn should be used. There is also an element of discipline required during classes, which is important from a safety angle. This took a few weeks to get used to!
Soon after I started training, I was joined by my eldest son (16) and then my youngest (10). I guess curiosity got the better of them, and I was really pleased we found something to do together as a family. In fact the family feel of Choi Kwang Do is something that stands out, with people of all ages training.
A few months in, and I noticed that I’d lost a few pounds, and was feeling healthier physically and mentally. This is because Choi Kwang Do combines defence techniques with core fitness work. It is surprising how enjoyable doing exercise can be when you hardly realise you’re doing it!
Having progressed after about 6 months to Gold belt, I was really pleased to be asked to join the instructor team as an Assistant Instructor. The downside of now wearing a blue suit (“dobok”) and resembling Papa Smurf has been far outweighed by the enjoyment and satisfaction of learning how to help teach this wonderful martial art to other people, and with getting more involved alongside a great bunch of people.
However, the thing I really never expected from joining the class a year ago was how many people I would meet who would become friends.
I took a leap into the unknown when I signed up for lessons and wish I’d done it 10 years earlier!
Steve Calvert (Head Instructor)
I began Choi Kwang Do in September 2011 after 6 weeks of watching my 7yr old son (now 8) training & enjoying this unique martial art under the instruction of Sabumnim Greg Evans, school owner of Choikwangdo4health. I was impressed from what I saw & decided to give it a go & probably one of the best decisions I have ever made & now able to spend more time with my son.
If someone had told me 11 months ago that I would be an assistant instructor, orange belt senior going for my green (August 2012)…I would never have believed them! Not to mention losing weight, increasing my fitness & stamina, so here I am, completely hooked & can’t get enough.
Choikwangdo4health & Sabumnim Evans have given myself & son a fantastic opportunity to train and progress further in what is no doubt the best & fastest growing martial art in the world, My son’s confidence has improved greatly & recently took part in his schools talent show doing Choi Kwang Do “freestyle”) in front of his year group & year 6, a year ago he would not even go into assembly! Recently Sabumnim Evans has promoted him to “Black belt Academy” which has given him another massive boost to his self-esteem!
With the Drills, P.A.C.E (progressively accelerating cardiopulmonary exertion) & techniques that every class incorporates i’m left feeling refreshed & invigorated & looking forward to my next session which isn’t to far as there are many classes to choose from.
On a final note, I have made some very good friends through Choi & can honestly say it’s like having a huge family, there is no competition, no need to feel shy or embarrassed as everyone from instructors to students are helpful & kind, So come along & join us…..you will thank us the day you did.
Pil Seung, Steve
Ben Parry (Head Instructor)
Life until my thirties revolved around football three times a week, but I reached the point where injuries had caught up with me. I’d had numerous operations, and for some fourteen months had been suffering with back and hamstring problems, limiting my ability to train in any capacity. I knew I needed something new in my life – something to help regain and maintain my fitness – but had no idea where to begin my search.
In February 2011 I received a flyer through my door, advertising ‘the world’s fastest growing martial art.’ I thought it gimmicky, but was attracted by its locality and ethos, and was encouraged by the nature of the name of the school: ChoiKWangDo4Health.
I must admit, as I arrived I was a little nervous. Having had no experience of martial arts, my perception was one very much based on horrendous anecdotes I’d been fed by friends, and on films I had seen. I anticipated turning up to a room filled with scar-covered ‘nutters’ screaming ‘fresh meat’ as I was thrown into a cage. What, in fact, greeted me as I walked into the dojang in Fair Oak was an extremely warm, attentive and personal welcome in the form of Sabumnim Greg Evans.
Quite simply, from the first session I was hooked. I was immediately struck by the positive environment and by the emphasis on improvement by training with other students rather than against, particularly given my injury record. I loved the training structure: in always accommodating a stretch, the basics, the fitness-centred PACE training and a focus on technique, each session was all-encompassing, and within that framework, Sabumnim Evans ensured training was always varied. Furthermore, I was really impressed by the progressive nature of a curriculum that allowed students to develop at their own pace, and which recognised students own limitations, whilst encouraging them to push themselves beyond what they deemed themselves capable of.
Under the careful instruction of Mr Evans, and other Instructors such as Mr Derek Bicknell, Mrs Karen Bicknell, Mr Liam Bicknell and Mr Mark Lloyd, my techniques quickly improved; through the stretch, my back and hamstring issues disappeared; through the PACE training my core strength returned; and above all, many new friendships were formed across a number of dojangs in which the welcome was as warm as the one in my own school.
In July 2011 I was extremely honoured to be made an Assistant Instructor. I still feel humbled to be wearing the blue dobok, and really enjoy the fact that I can now provide a greater level of support in the development of my fellow students, whilst further enhancing and improving my own techniques and abilities.
CKD is a martial art designed to work with the body and mind, rather than against them; a martial art steeped in history, but informed and shaped by modern sports science; a martial art that acknowledges tradition but is forever evolving.
CKD is much more than a set of techniques to be used in self-defence: at its core is a life premise; a set of principles which, if we all adhered too, would exponentially improve society. These principles are fully embraced by all students of CKD, making the real strength of CKD its people. It is easy to dismiss the phrase as a cliché, but CKD really is a ‘family’ in which all people – no matter gender, age, race or physical or mental capabilities – have a place, and are treated equally: with the utmost respect and encouragement.
CKD provides a platform for personal, physical and social development in a unique environment.
I am extremely proud to be associated with Choi Kwang Do. Simply put, I can’t recommend it highly enough.