Last week saw an incredible festival of British Taekwondo activity in Manchester to mark the end of a very difficult year.
BT Squad Training
Over 120 sport athletes, most of them medallists from the recent Nationals in London, and coming from all parts of the UK, descended on the National Taekwondo Centre for the last BT squad session of 2021 on Saturday 11th December. It was a jam-packed day, with quality coaching and a great work ethic seen from all present.
Training was intense at times! – as the coaches tested skills and endurance, and “stepped it up” in the afternoon, but the feedback after the session was amazing, with lots of happy tired faces heading home and looking forward to more of the same next year!
BT End of Year Presentation Workshops & AGM
The National Centre also played host to the BT End of Year Presentation workshops and Annual General Meeting (AGM). Over 30 club instructors joined the meetings in person, with many more following online, as BT staff and volunteer led technical departments laid out what they had been up to in 2021, and what ambitious plans they had for 2022.
Obviously Covid featured heavily in presentations, and how it had restricted Taekwondo activity so much in the last year, but there were some great stand-out moments and things to celebrate such as getting the two National Championships done and delivered, online Poomsae competition medals, Junior European medals very recently, and a big round of applause for Clare Laybourne in becoming GB’s first ever Paralympic referee!.
Looking to 2022, BT staff set out the work done so far to bring innovation to our organisation, with a new hub system, diversified membership types to give members more choice and value, a new website on its way……… plus the January launch of the new BT Coach Education Pathway!
First up in the afternoon sessions, was the Martial Art performance department, a new department in 2021. Mark Yell, chair, set out exciting plans to serve, educate and provide high quality training opportunities for our core Marital Art based Taekwondo clubs. Mark set out the work done to date on improving the Dan grading syllabus, systemising the Dan grading assessment process to make it more transparent (thanks to Master John Stopforth!), and outlined ambitious plans for seminars, Kukkiwon events and further National Dan gradings.
The Poomsae and Sport performance departments both set out their ambitions for next year and highlighted major championships that (Covid permitting) we will have BT teams competing at – as well as squad activity and team selection policies.
The Sport & Poomsae referee departments also laid out their goals for the coming year, getting our existing referees upskilled and qualified for the big events next year and more new people into officiating regularly.
Overall, it was a very informative day, with lots of Q & A coming from the floor and online. BT instructors will receive a link to these presentations in the coming week to watch online.
BT End of Year Celebration
It was brilliant to see the British Taekwondo family come together socially again at our End of Year Celebration dinner, held at the Holiday Inn Manchester Piccadilly hotel on Saturday night.
Considering all of the concerns around Covid, travel and accommodation, it was heart-warming to see so many Instructors, Referee’s, technical department officers, BT staff and Board members having a great night of conversation and enjoying each other’s company over dinner and drinks.
As most technical departments had only started getting activity going again after the various pandemic shutdown’s, it wasn’t possible to do the planned full scale annual awards for athletes and referees. Some of the technical departments may do something separately or when normality returns!
BT President Sarah Stevenson Jennings and Chair Eamonn O’Rourke did hand out plaques of appreciation to the volunteer department members in attendance who have run the technical operations, with so much behind the scenes work done in the last difficult year, to provide participation and education opportunity for our wider membership.
A massive thank you and well done to everyone that has contributed.
National Dan Grading
Finally, the weekend was finished off with BT’s first National Dan Grading event for a long while.
Candidates from all corners of the UK came to the iconic National Taekwondo Centre to test for Black Belt or higher Dan, in front of a panel of three 8th Dan Grand Masters and two 7th Dan Master grades.
Candidates were tested thoroughly using the new BT Dan grading syllabus and assessment criteria in a new transparent format, watched over by attending master grade observers, instructors and family members.
It was an amazing experience for candidates to take their grade in such a World Class venue and in front of one of the highest-ranking grading panels. A massive well done to all successful members – and a big thank you to GM’s Bailey, Guest, Leafe and Masters Biescas & Razak for their time and support. Also big thanks to GM Lennox who was unable to attend at the last minute.
Lastly, a big thank you to all clubs and instructors who have supported these BT events and each other over the last few months as we all try to get things going again.
From all the BT board and staff, we wish everyone within the BT family all the best for a safe and happy Christmas period!