Here at Miles Martial Arts’ we have a primary focus on ITF Taekwon-do. We pride ourselves on creating a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in all of our classes. We understand that consistency is the key to success, so we encourage students to just train, have fun, make friends, and ‘love the journey’. This way students progress naturally at their own pace without any unnecessary pressure or falling into the trap of training for the next belt rather than what the belt represents.
We offer age-appropriate classes, catering for all ages from 3 years old up to adults. As well as weekly classes, we offer camps, seminars, competitions, and regular gradings for those who are ready to progress.
We also offer a rich source of online resources including videos of training drills and beneficial exercises, as well as instructional videos of our full syllabus, so that students can stay on top of their progress from home.
At Miles TKD we teach the traditional form of Taekwon-do that General Choi Hong Hi (who is usually called just General Choi, pronounced chay) developed and improved throughout his life and that he was still teaching up to his death in 2002. This is known as ITF style Taekwon-do or, more traditionally, as Chang Hun style Taekwon-do. ITF stands for the International Taekwondo Federation.
As a young man, in the late 1930s/early 1940s, Choi Hong Hi trained in the Japanese martial art shokotan karate. Japan had been unwelcome occupiers of Korea since before he was born. In June 1945, Japan surrendered to Allied Forces and the United States and the Soviet Union divided Korea into two countries along the 38th parallel to create North and South Korea. By 1946 Second Lieutenant Choi Hong Hi, as he was then, was teaching karate to soldiers in the the newly formed South Korean Army as form of physical and mental training. Here are some photographs of General Choi.
But General Choi did not want to teach a Japanese martial art. He wanted to create a Korean national martial art, one that he intended to be superior “in spirit and technique” to karate. Over the years, he and other taekwon-do pioneers, modified and added techniques to create a Korean fighting style. In 1955, Choi Hong Hi christened it “taekwon-do”, the art (do) of foot (tae) and fist (kwon).
And Today, taekwon-do is a distinct martial art (though with many styles) enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.
General Choi created 24 “patterns”. These are pre-determined sets of moves against an imaginary opponent. We still practice these today. They introduce students gradually to an increasing range of techniques. General Choi gave each pattern a significant name and a meaning that he hoped would forever keep alive knowledge of Korean history and culture.
As time passed, different forms of taekwon-do evolved. There may be quite big differences between styles e.g. between the ITF style that we teach and the WT (World Taekwondo) style that is now an Olympic sport. Or there may be more subtle differences between styles in how techniques are executed or what rules apply in competitions. Today, there are many different organisations representing Masters and clubs that teach particular types of taekwon-do. [Miles TKD] is affiliated to the National Taekwon-do Alliance which in turn is part of ITF Headquarters Korea.
Taekwon-do is largely an empty handed (unarmed) martial art and one of the so called “hard” martial arts. Although we relax as we execute he initial stages of a technique, the emphasis is on delivering strikes and blocks that are powerful at the moment of impact. It features lots of kicks – often incorporating jumping and spinning – and hand techniques, both attacks and blocks.
Students practice these techniques solo, in their patterns, aiming to improve movement, stances and power. They can develop fantastic muscle memory of movements through patterns practice. They learn the name (in Korean too!) and purpose of each technique in their patterns and which vital spot of the body they are aiming for with that technique. They can then apply that in self defence applications and sparring. Sparring ranges from set sparring, where two students face each other and carry out predetermined attacks and blocks to build confidence and technique safely, to sport-based free sparring which is a form of semi-contact sparring using point scoring. Students wear padded head guards, mouthguards, gloves and foot guards for free sparring. But the emphasis in free sparring is on speed not power and on staying on your feet; it is never about hurting an opponent. We do give our students the opportunity to demonstrate the power of their techniques on re-breakable of wooden boards, to the great enjoyment of many!
This video shows Mr Mark Trotter and Mr Carl Van Roon, both world champions, demonstrating pre-arranged free sparring.
Students wear a white uniform called a dobok and start with a white belt. They progress through 9 colour belts towards their first degree black belt, learning a new pattern with each new belt. Black belts learn three patterns at each belt up to 4th degree, two at 5th degree and the final pattern called Tong-il at 6th degree. 7th and 8th degree black belts are referred to as Masters and 9th degrees are called Grand Masters.
There are so many facets to taekwon-do training. There really is something for everyone. Some students prefer the technical, precise practice of patterns. Others like padwork or the adrenaline rush of free sparring.
Every class is different and there is so much to learn, or improve upon, that you will never get bored. And taekwon-do training has many benefits. For example….