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A Fort Augustus martial arts club has been kicking above its weight during its inaugural year.
Loch Ness Taekwon-Do (TKD) opened its Dojang doors last March and has enjoyed a run of successes since.
Launched and run by 43-year-old Simon Canning, a third degree black belt, who originally started his journey in martial arts more than 30 years ago, the club is also managing to keep their students active during lockdown.
In fact Simon, and 12-year-old TKD student Lucy Burnett will enter their first online competition in the ITC Open Video Patterns competition this weekend.
The duo have already tasted international success this year.
In February, Simon travelled to Swindon to take part in his first competition in 18 years for the PUMA International Open and won a silver medal for patterns and silver medal for sparring, being beaten in both divisions by sixth degree black belts.
A month later he travelled to Swindon to compete in the EMAP Open Championships earning a bronze medal in the sparring category against competitors 20 years younger than himself.
‘There are Veteran Categories but competing is a way for me to encourage my students to compete and for newcomers to give Taekwon-Do a try, so I feel the Open competitions provide a better platform to do this from,’ said Simon.
‘When I moved to Fort Augustus I could see potential for
TaeKwon-Do to make a positive impact on the rural area and I believe we are doing so and more.’
Promising young student Lucy Burnett has also enjoyed a successful year since taking up the art.
Lucy travelled with Simon to Swindon for her first competition and made an excellent impression on the judges and the spectators by earning a bronze medal in patterns and a bronze medal for sparring.
Also in March, Simon hosted a technical seminar conducted by Master Claire Crosbie VII Degree and saw many of his students promoted to various grades.
Lucy was promoted to Green Belt with an ‘A’ pass (the highest level) and is now the highest graded student at the club. Additionally, the youngster was awarded the Loch Ness TaeKwon-Do Student of the Year award presented by Simon at a recent seminar.
‘Lucy has trained with great effort, dedication, ability and continual improvement,’ he added.
‘I fully expect her development to continue the way it has been, and this will increase her confidence to go forward with the determination we have already been impressed with.’
For this weekend’s online tournament the duo must provide two patterns by video with strict guidelines and they must be of a high standard to ensure they have a chance to become medal holders once more.
Loch Ness TKD is part of the Albyn and Beyond Association of TaeKwon-Do which covers Inverness, Dores and Fort Augustus, which itself welcomes students from Lochaber.
The sport itself is a dynamic Korean Martial Art first recognised in 1955 and is practiced by an estimated 70 million worldwide.
For the future, Simon hopes to encourage more people to give it a try and for the club to see more competitive experience.
‘While I have a focus on competition, the club does not stray from the fact TaeKwon-Do is a self-defence system with over 3,000 moves and often spends time going through control and restraint moves,’ he explained.
‘We are largely a family-oriented club and I am keen to move forward.
‘TaeKwon-Do is for everyone from six years of age and all abilities. It helps improve confidence, builds strength and stamina, and teaches self-defence and we look forward to welcoming all new members.
For more information, contact Simon Canning at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07375 890572.