By Melissa Nefdt
It’s a new year and a new start for the Rhodes University taekwon-do club and their affiliated community training in Grahamstown. After a very successful year in 2006, the club has big plans for 2007.
Intense training has already begun as the first grading is only two months away and numerous competitions are already on the calendar. Matthew Esof, the Rhodes University taekwon-do instructor, is also being put through his paces by a sixth degree Korean instructor in preparation for the World Championships. This will be held in Slovenia in April of this year.
A new face to taekwon-do in Grahamstown is the assistant instructor Stuart Hislop who recently achieved his first kup (black stripe) in Gauteng. He has expressed his desire to continue and improve the sport to the best of his ability.
At the request of the Rhodes SRC, a very successful self-defence demonstration was performed at the plenary lecture for first years on Tuesday February 6. “It was awesome!” said John de Jager, a first year environmental sciences student. “I’m definitely signing up!” Other self-defence demonstrations were given around campus all through O-Week, including the practical application of evading a confrontational situation or responding with force where necessary.
Matthew Esof, assisted by Rhodes taekwon-do club president Andrew Duggan, began a two month course with 28 girls from Diocesan School for Girls. At the request of DSG, the girls will be put through a rigorous fitness and stretching workout together with instruction of the basics of taekwon-do. Furthermore, Gerd Hummel (fourth dan instructor) together with the RU taekwon-do club have taken an entire day of physical education classes at Kingswood College. Junior school children from 10 – 14 years old were introduced to the sport, the focus of which is personal self-defence from any age.
Jai Clifford-Holmes and Robyn de Jager, the chair and vice-chairpersons of the club’s committee, are very excited about the year ahead. “We have such great things planned, such as camps, beach trips, competitions and of course the National Championships, held this year in Gauteng.” The club is expecting much larger classes this year at Rhodes and for local scholars in the Masonic Hall on Hill Street.
Opportunity is also given to those underprivileged students who cannot afford the fees. This year the club has taken on ten community development scholars in addition to the four the club already sponsors. Club president Andrew Duggan hopes to develop local scholars who will stay in the city and become permanent taekwon-do instructors for the Grahamstown area one day. Taekwon-do is here to stay.