My University Club – VUW TKD

A One Paragraph Version:

When I was at university straight after secondary school, I decided to join the Victoria University of Wellington Taekwondo club. I joined for two reasons: the great physical challenge, and the socializing. The VUW TKD club only met twice a week, but when we did, we trained really hard! Our instructor Che would say: “Relax; nice and easy; … now kick!” He would tell us to repeat each kick over and over, faster and faster, until we were so exhausted we wanted to collapse! Our other instructor, Dennis,  who took training on Saturday afternoons, made us do lots of really hard exercises like jumping up and down the hall, kicking many pads, and then sprinting back up the hall to do it all again, and again, and again! After training on Saturdays, we would often go out together and socialize at cheap restaurants for meals after training, and have parties at our homes sometimes. Many great friendships were made, sharing parties, birthday parties, and sometimes even weddings. There were about twenty people in the club. Nearly half were women, and many were people from different places around the world. Now, many years later, I am still in touch with many friends from the ‘TKD’ club, even though many of us are scattered throughout different countries again. I know we all value the memories, experiences, and relationships we gained through training so hard, and chatting so much, together.

That’s Che in the front on the far right, in his ‘nice and easy’ pose, as usual! Just in front of him is Sophia. She is the new main instructor. On the far left in front is Clinton. He and I graded for our black belts together.

Kicking practise: "Ready!"
Notice the healthy mixture of men and women.

Front kick: "Fifty-seven! ... Fifty-eight! ..."

Belinda kicks and maintains a good arm-block.

Belinda and Tien practise 'half-contact' sparring.

A Four Paragraph Version:

When I started at university straight after secondary school, I did not know many people. Most of my friends had gone away to study topics taught better at other universities around the country. As I had started taekwondo in secondary school and I still really enjoyed it, I decided to join the Victoria University of Wellington Taekwondo club. There were about twenty people in the group. There were nearly ten women, and many people were from different places around the world, and so there was a healthy mixture of cultures and genders. Joining the club therefore turned out to be great decision for two reasons: the great physical challenge, and the socializing.

    The VUW TKD club only met twice a week, but when we did meet to practice taekwondo, we trained really hard! We had two instructors with very different styles, both of whom liked to make us sweat and work really hard at improving our technique and speed. Che, a slim Chinese Malaysian New Zealander, would say: “Relax; nice and easy: now kick!” He would tell us to repeat each kick over and over, faster and faster, until we were so exhausted we wanted to collapse! Dennis, a compact Malaysian New Zealander who took training on Saturday afternoons, made us do lots of really hard exercises like jumping up and down the hall, kicking many pads, and then sprinting back up the hall to do it all again. After we were completely warmed up and sweating and panting (or breathing) hard, he would give us a break by practicing some self-defense moves, but then we would finish class by free-sparring for about half an hour, ‘play-fighting’ with many other people in the club. It was a great way to see how people of other experience levels and body shapes moved, but it was also a fantastic way to keep ‘in shape’ and fit and healthy.

    After training on Saturdays, we would often go out together and socialize. There are many great cheap Malaysian and Chinese restaurants in Wellington. We would usually go to a cheap one for dinner, although if it was someone’s birthday that week we might go to somewhere a bit ‘nicer,’ perhaps for Thai food, Mediterranean, or sometimes even Korean. Other times we would go to someone’s house or apartment for a party. Dennis had an apartment nearby the university, and we would often crowd in there and watch funny martial arts movies from Hong Kong, or just chat and listen to him sing strange old English pop songs on his nice old guitar. We all became genuine friends, sharing birthday parties and even weddings. Now, many years later, I am still in touch with friends from the ‘TKD’ club, even though many of us are scattered far around the world.

In conclusion then, even though not many friends from our days as students in the VUW TKD club are still training in taekwondo, I know we do keep physically fit in other ways, such as by playing rugby, or joining sociable running clubs, or by practising other martial arts. More than this though, I know we all value the memories, experiences, and relationships we gained through training so hard, and chatting so much, together.

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