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A few weeks ago, my fellow Taekwon-Do students and I had the chance to train with Olympic medallist and
talent scout Sarah Stevenson. The session was arranged by our instructor, Glenn
Horan, a sixth degree black belt with over 23 years teaching experience, in
preparation of our trip to the European Championships, to be held in Barcelona
in July. 

Despite Miss Stevenson being a
practitioner of WTF (Olympic-style) taekwondo, which differs mildly from our
system in terms of point-scoring and etiquette, students were unanimous in
their praise of her approach and the tips she shared with us. Her attitude
towards the class provided a more laid back and sports-orientated view on the
art than we were used to, removing the need for traditional formalities and
encouraging us to focus on the exercises at hand.
One thing that has stuck in both
mine and my instructor''s minds, as well as my those of my training partners,
was the answer Miss Stevenson gave to the question: "How do you prepare
for a fight?" 
Everyone leaned in with salivating curiosity. Here we were, about to be told by a world-class fighter how to prepare for battle; what secrets would she reveal? What quick-fix solution
would she let out of the bag? Surely she would equip us with inside information
no opponent could ever be prepared for. 

"Erm..." She muttered.
"You know I''m not so sure I really think about it like that. You can''t go
into the ring focusing on winning. Of course you want to win. But my mindset is
always that I''m just going to go in there and do what I''ve been training to do.
As long as you try your hardest, no-one can really ask anything else of
I think I actually heard a penny drop inside my own head. I thought of all the times I had gotten on the mats,
my mind overrun with suffocating thoughts of winning, winning, winning. It''s a
vulnerable obsession that falls apart the moment my opponent got in a swift
downward kick to my head or a sharp jab into my stomach, leaving me demotivated
and lethargic. 
I know I''m not the only one to have felt this, combined with the dizzying anxiety of a cheering audience and sweat dripping into my eyes. But Miss Stevenson''s words were inspirational and
influential in how I now approach competitive sparring and deal with the

She was clearly as confident and
competent teaching the children as she was the adults (although we may not have
been quite as quick on the uptake). These sessions demonstrated that despite
our differences, there is more room for crossover between different divisions of
Taekwon-Do than ever before and this is something we should be embracing,
forgetting the politics of the past. Overall, the whole day was an excellent
experience and something I know everyone would love to see repeated in the

Written by: Martin Dunne - 24th June 2013
[Comments: 1]

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Article Feedback:

Christopher Devine : 3rd July 2013, 23:04

Excellent article, sounded like a great experience!
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