Adam LeRoux tries Taekwondo – and survives!

It had been a while since my last sporting adventure, with the Christmas break giving me time to rest the limbs and that had been tested by Quidditch, Korfball and Krav Maga last semester.

With mince pies being devoured on an hourly basis and eating close to my own body weight in various varieties of cheese, it was fair to say I had recuperated ready for semester two, maybe overly so.

With that in mind the decision of where to start this years excursions began. Hopefully something light and easy to start me off. Snooker and Pool society maybe? Darts anyone? I was even considering the Stitch and Bitch society as a sport as one point. Alas, the decision was made for me to really get the blood pumping, and burn off a bit of that stinking bishop at the same time, as Taekwondo came calling.

Taekwondo, like many other martial arts, originates in Asia. The ‘art of hand and foot’, -as it translates – was pioneered by the Korean military in the 1950’s, and has uickly gained popularity to be accepted into the Olympics in 2000.

The session was overseen by Master Andy Murray, a former British Champion and sixth degree black belt. A man with over twenty years of experience, what he doesn’t know about taekwondo probably isn’t worth knowing.

After a light warm up and stretch we were ready to go, and where better to start than a few kicking drills? Finesse and technique are key to perfecting the kick, which makes practicing it all the more vital. First up was the roundhouse kick, possibly the most famous kick to most people, the classic pivot and swivel kick to the other side of the body.

Although I may have been far from a natural, the guidance from the TKD team was great. With two years of taekwondo under his belt, my partner Kandish Karimi helped me get to grips with the skills.

Next came a moment nobody thought was coming; as instructors Gina Koutsopoulou and Steve Derrig were demonstrating the next drill – to escape a headlock – I hear the dreaded words ‘Adam, come and show everyone how it’s done.”

Now, how is a man supposed to back out of such a demand? Especially when 50 pairs of eyes turn to face you, and Gina Koutsopolou, former World Champion Gina Koutsopolou may I add, is waiting for you to join her? The answer is, you don’t.

So there I was, being out into a headlock by Steve – certainly something I didn’t see coming at the start of the night – and showcasing my escape ability to the masses. Put it this, I’m no Harry Houdini when it comes to escape acts, but it made taekwondo one to remember that’s for sure!

For anyone wanting to get involved in a martial art with excellent instructors and a wide variety of things to learn, give taekwonda a go. I promise they won’t get you in a headlock, at least not on your first time anyway.


Image courtesy of Sam Broadley


Adam LeRoux

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