School News

2 Masters, 2 Days, 5 Components  – Athlone Training weekend a great success.


20 Taekwon-Do students from 6 schools travelled to Athlone for the weekend to train hard under the guidance of two ITF masters.  The students from; Athlone, Blessignton, Cork, Galway, Kilmacow, Limerick, and Old Bawn, trained, sweated, learned and laughed as Master Robert Howard and Master Mark O’Donnell drove them through the weekend’s training.

It was a great opportunity for students ranging from 10th kup to 6th degree black belt to train together and cover all the five components of Taekwon-Do.  The goal of the weekend was for students to develop an understanding of how the five components; fundamental movements, patterns, conditioning, sparring and self-defence, are all linked together and that if they leave out one component then they are not doing Taekwon-Do. If they spend all their time doing patterns and omit self-defence, or concentrate on sparring too much at the expense of power breaking (conditioning) then their Taekwon-Do is incomplete. ‘The students got a chance to see all the aspects of Taekwon-Do. It was great, especially for the lower grades who often can’t see the point of doing 3 and 2 step sparring’ said Conor Dunne assistant instructor at Athlone Taekwon-Do School.

This wasn’t a technical seminar, but the two masters pointed out common mistakes which students make and gave valuable tips on how to maximise the power in their blocks, kicks, strikes. In the fundamental movements the students were taught how to use their whole body to defend themselves, everything from their fingertips to their toes.

Master Howard (Instructor at Master Howard’s Dojang) explained the need to for students to train hard both in the dojang and at home to develop your body. He quoted General Choi’s definition of Taekwon-Do, ‘It is the scientific use of the body in the method of self-defence; a body that has gained the ultimate use of its facilities through intensive physical and mental training’ and stressed the intensive physical and mental training part of the definition.

Master O’Donnell added to the discussion and said ‘If you want to just come along twice a week and do Taekwon-Do as a hobby, that’s fine, but don’t expect to become a black belt.’ He went on to say ‘You need to train 3 or 4 times per week, to supplement your dojang classes. If you are just coming to the dojang twice a week and not training or even thinking about Taekwon-Do at home then you are just wasting your time.’
The final component of the weekend was self-defence.  The masters pointed out that there are no secrets in self-defence. Whether it is a release from grab of defending against a knife, it is just the practical application of all the other four components of Taekwon-Do. It is not as artistic or beautiful as a pattern or as exciting to watch a good spar. It is rough, ready and effective.  There are obviously points like moving your body out of the way of the blade and moving in to grab the wrist, but these should have already been learned through fundamental movements, patterns and sparring.

The weekend ended with the masters thanking the students for training so hard and for their desire to learn and understand.  There were requests to make it an annual event and Galway was mentioned as next year’s venue. 










ITF 7th Degrees, Master Robert Howard and Master Mark O’Donnell, will be conducting an action packed training weekend on the 20th/21st August in Athlone. The two days of training will cover all aspects of Taekwon-Do and give a special emphasis on real applications of the techniques in self-defence and knife self-defence situations.  Topics to be covered include; patterns, sparring, flying techniques, self-defence and knife self-defence, making it a complete Taekwon-Do weekend.

Training is open to Black Belts and Colour Belts (9th kup up) from all Taekwon-Do schools and associations. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to train with 2 ITF Masters for 2 days.

Venue: Athlone Regional Sports Centre, Ballymahon Rd, Athlone, Co. West Meath.
Date: Saturday 20th August (10 am to 5 pm), Sunday 21st August (10 to 1 pm).
Closing date: Monday 15th August
Cost: €60 (€50 RITA members)
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Application Form: Download application form
Poster: Download event poster

Congratulations to the 21 boys and girls who were promoted to their next stripe, at last Friday’s grading under Senior Master Phelan (8th Degree). There were 16 promotions to red stripe (year 2) and 5 promotions to black stripe (year 1). The children are in the Taekwon-Do Tigers class (ages 6 to 8 years) which is part of the RITA’s children’s development programme and has a belt /stripe system which is unique to the programme. The Cabra school’s chief instructor, Senior Master Howard (8th degree), was there as a special guest, and the Tigers instructor Master Howard (7th degree) was also present and gave the commands. The Tigers were assessed under four categories; technical, physical and flexibility, kicking and jumping, and theory with Korean words, with the children showing improved performances in all areas especially flexibility and jumping. Both Senior Masters were very impressed with the children’s development and overall standard. As a result, the examiner had a very difficult job in deciding who to give the grading award to. To help in his decision he called 6 of the boys and girls to the floor again and had a second look at them. In the end he decided to give the grading award to Joyce Yu for her higher technical standard.

It was a busy year for the Tigers with their Christmas demonstration, Cabra tournament, and a trip to Athlone for another tournament. The grading was the final event in their calendar and the Tigers are now on their summer break and classes will resume in September. Master Howard would like to thanks all the parents for their support this year and looks forward to seeing them all again in September.

Photographs from this grading are available online here.

This page may take some time to load as there are a large number of photographs on it.

‘Congratulations to all the members who passed their grading on Tuesday (24th May), under examiners Senior Mater Phelan and Master Howard.’

International Technical Seminar - Holland
Senior Master Hwang Ho Yong 8th degree

Master Robert Howard and Mr Conor Dunne (Athlone) attended an ITF technical seminar in Holland last weekend (13-15th May). The seminar was conducted by the ITF’s technical director Senior Master Hwang Ho Yong(8th Degree) and hosted by Taekwon-Do International Nederland.

The main theme of the three day seminar was on the composition of Taekwon-Do; fundamental movements, dallyon (conditioning, power breaking), patterns, sparring, self-defence, and how all five components feedinto each other. If you neglect any of the components then your
self-defence, which is the ultimate (physical) goal of Taekwon-Do won’t work.

With that message in mind SM Hwang started the seminar with instruction on fundamental movements. This included blocks, hand attacks and kicks. His kicking technique and leg strength put many of the attendeesto shame.

In the patterns he gave correction on Chon Ji to Choi-Yong (3rd degree), but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to do the higher degree patterns.

In the sparring the emphasised the importance of following the order of 3-step, 2-step, semi-free sparring, free-sparring, 1 –step. He said that if you learn and teach sparring in this order that you and your students will then be fully prepared for the final component (self-defence). He said that sparring is not the pinnacle of Taekwon-Do, self-defence is the goal.

He then brought the class through self-defence (release from grabs etc), defence against a knife (similar toone step), and knife sparring. It was clear for the logical progress from 3-step to 1 step that all the concepts (strong blocks, inside blocks versus outside blocks, logical counter-attacks, etc) for real self-defence are present. Unfortunately most students don’t see this and view these as just something which they must do to pass their grading. He said that it is important that instructor teach this very well sothat the students are really prepared for self-defence.

SM Hwang had a very relaxed and pleasant way about him and all the attendees were relaxed and found it very easy to learn and ask questions. The funniest moment was when he got the class to sing to encourage them use a group rhythm when doing a pattern in class as opposed to 70 individual rhythms.

He presented an ITF distinguished service medal posthumously to Senior Master Bart Stokhoff who sadly died last year. SM Stokhoff was the chief instructor to Holland and the medal was collected by his daughter.

The whole weekend was a great success. Aside from the fantastic Taekwo-Do training and instruction; the accommodation, food and organisation by the Dutch federation was excellent.

Holland 2011