When my daughter Sophie was five years old, she told me that she wanted to do martial arts. I had done Tae Kwon Do when I was twelve - due to bullying experiences in school - and my mum had felt it would help my self-confidence. So I felt Tae Kwon Do would the best option for Sophie. I knew about Stoke UTA (Unified TaeKwon-do Association – the official Olympic version of the sport) from when I was working as a Family Service Worker: I had introduced a young boy I was supporting to Stoke UTA to help boost his self-esteem, and so I knew it was a good club.
After several months with the club and one belt up, Sophie entered the National Tae Kwon Do competition in Sheffield - and won gold competing against 5 others in the mini peewee category, she was only 6 years old! From then on, we knew this was not just going to be a hobby.
Sophie is now a black belt, taking her 2nd Dan in April 2018 and is a member of the British National Team for the third year on the run. She has won over 20 medals and competed in Northern Ireland and Scotland twice, Nottingham, Crawley, Sheffield, Harrogate and Stoke, to name just a few. She has held the International title twice and National title several times. This year she has been given the opportunity to compete in Portugal, as she moves up to the Cadet category next year turning 12 years old. This means she can compete in Germany or Austria in the near future.
Sophie shows dedication and determination in this sport. She trains five hours a week, on top of which she travels down to Sussex once a month to attend the squad training session, which lasts for six hours.
Although Poomsae (the form of Tae Kwon Do Sophie competes in) is not a contender yet for the Olympics, officials are trying to change this - so who knows, she could be the next Jade Jones of Poomsae!
From the British Taekwondo website (www.britishtaekwondo.org.uk/):
Poomsae or Patterns are a set sequence of movements that consists of the various fundamental stances, blocks, punches and kicks logically arranged in a meaningful order in response to attacks from multiple imaginary assailants. Each Poomsae pattern consists of an established sequence of movements which has a philosophical meaning, and each Poomsae has its own character and distinct quality. Poomsae teaches a student balance, technique, coordination and self-discipline.