Taekwondo exponents enter new era in Pirie

Martial arts students enter new era in Pirie

Thwack! Self-defence martial arts training got off to a “cracking” pace for men, women, boys and girls at Full Impact Taekwondo classes.

Making the noise was Anthony Ireland, who holds a red belt with black stripe, as he smashed a board with his right hand.

New chief instructor Louie Dimou and exponent Chris Wright held the plank before the impact that was signalled by a shout from Anthony.

Despite the combat overtones of the demonstration, the Korean martial art of taekwondo emphasises self-control, respect and courtesy.

Exponents will never initiate violence and will try to talk their way out of any confrontation.

Watching the display were younger students including Brendan Krommendijk, 8, Theodor Cricchiola, 8, and Olivia Cricchiola, 6.

With Chris Wright, Brendan, Theodor and Olivia adopted fighting poses for a photograph to show the wide range of ages of the students who attend classes at South City Gym every Tuesday and Thursday.

The club is entering a new era after the retirement of former chief instructor “Ginger” Sampson.

“Ginger’ founded the forerunner of the club, Rhee Taekwondo, about 45 years ago in Port Pirie. It has also been known as World Taekwondo and Sun Taekwondo.

His partner Charisse Smith, who holds a blue belt, said “Ginger” was now in his 70s and felt it was time to hand over the reins of the club to Louie.

“’Ginger’ is now a Master and is internationally recognised in his belt level,” she said.

Louie began training as a boy in 1982 and will notch up 36 years with the style next month.

“I love the sport,” he said.

“’Tae’ means to kick or jump, ‘kwon’ means fist or hand and ‘do’ means ‘the way’.

“We come under the International Taekwondo Federation which is about the ‘art’ rather than the ‘sport’.

“The different coloured belts each have a meaning.

“We offer a few free come-try lessons for people to see what it is all about.

“We have a mixture of kids and adults and a few families in the class as well as some with disabilities and some older people and professionals.

“We have about 20 students and everyone is welcome.”

He said students were taught to deflect behaviour away from real-life situations of conflict.

“That is why we preach it as good self-defence,” he said.

This week, everyone received their grading and passed to the next level. Louie said the students had trained hard.