The Atkinsons' TKD journey.

Written by Terry Atkinson.

Our TKD journey started when we enrolled Ashley into Cheadle club in 1998. The club was run by Mr Gary Baker, and the Chief Principal, Mr Dennis Salt.

Atkinson story At that time, it was a TAGB club. Ashley trained once a week and continued to make steady progress. Grading's were usually at the Maude institute in Leek. Ashley didn't start to compete until he was blue belt. I remember it was in Kettering on a swelteringly hot day. Ashley had to sit patiently for hours with other competitors to be called up for his fight. He gave a good account of himself that day and he certainly had the taste to do more competitions.

Atkinson storyCarly was keen to start TKD and I promised her that both herself and I would start on her 7th birthday. In 2002, Mr Salt formed NCTKD and joined the PUMA organisation which was run by Master Ray Gayle, Master Mark Ogbourne, and the late Master Jonny Black. It was around that time that Carly and I enrolled at the Fenton Club. Carly would have been 7 and I was 47. The instructors were Mr Gary Baker and Mr John Sharrock. We all trained 2-3 times a week and progressed through the colour belts. Ashley became a black belt in 2003, Carly in 2007, and myself I think around 2005.

We decided that we were going to compete at all the tournaments, and it was at a competition down in Swindon where Mr Gary Bradshaw who was the PUMA squad coach at the time invited Ashley to come along to squad training as he thought he had potential. And so we started to take Ashley down to Yate near Bristol for squad training on Sunday mornings. It wasn't long after that Carly and I started squad training to improve our fitness and technique. It was very tiring, Ashley and Carly would sleep in the car all the way back while I drove the 200 mile round trip. We would help out at grading's and officiate at competitions.

Master Gayle was carrying out auditions for "The Flowering Youth" demonstration team made up of boys and girls, which incidentally was on Carly's 13th birthday. Carly said to us that she would like to go along and try it. Amazingly Carly was successful and made it in to the team. Atkinson story Carly's TKD really reached another level under the brilliant tuition of Master Gayle. Add to that she was training with Jenny Francis (now Jenny Swain) alongside her. She loved it!!! So now we were going down to Thornbury on a Saturday morning for Flowering Youth training, and down to Yate the day after for squad training. That's 400miles in a weekend!!!!! I always joked saying "we should have bought a house down there" as we spent more time there then we did in Staffordshire. One of Carly's proudest moments was when she Captained the England girls team at the PUMA 2012 Open World Championships.

We all became assistant instructors and later I became a full instructor. Also I became a qualified umpire. We continued to compete up and down the country and Ashley had the chance to go to the Irish Open in Cork. This competition was probably the best and toughest competition he had ever entered. I remember we used to train harder at squad for that competition. The contact was a lot heavier than we were used to. The competition would attract teams from all over Europe and also as far as Argentina. I think we went to the Irish open 3 times, Carly competed twice with the girls PUMA England Team, and Ashley for the men. They always came back with a hoard of Medals. PUMA always did very well there. On one occasion I entered the veteran individual patterns and sparring categories at the Irish open. I got a gold in sparring, and 4th in patterns against a very strong group. Mr Dave Pixton was in my corner that day, and he kept telling me "stick to the plan, stick to the plan". I was made up to win a medal at the Irish Open.

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Ashley also competed at the NIA arena in Birmingham at the TKD World Championships. There were teams from USA, Canada, Nepal, Scotland, Ireland, Argentina, and lots of other countries. Ashley won a gold in the individual event. I entered veteran Patterns and won a silver. We spent the whole week at the Jury's Inn, it was such a good competition. We got to meet and shake the hand of General Choi's son.

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Ashley and Carly were both well-established now in the PUMA England Teams and we had the chance to go to a Competition in Puerto Rico. What a journey that was. PUMA sent a strong contingent out there. Ashley in the men's team and Carly in the girl's team. PUMA, as a whole, scooped most of the medals, with Ashley winning bronze in patterns, silver in team sparring, and gold in team patterns. Carly picked up gold in sparring, gold in patterns, and silver in team patterns. Another fantastic experience.

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I was instructing a lot now with the help of Carly, Ashley and Gary Baker. The opportunity arose for me to take over the Cheadle club which I accepted. We built the club up between us in to a good size - training on a Tuesday night, we had 3 classes. Ashley, Carly, and myself continued to train with Mr Salt on a Friday at Leek and Mark Chadwick on a Wednesday at Fenton. Eventually Ashley left to go to the University of Loughborough to study Civil Engineering. He continued to practice TKD joining the GTUK organisation where he got in to their England team. Carly and I continued to run the Cheadle club right up till she went to Birmingham University to study Medical Biochemistry. I was struggling with a nasty ankle injury which would ultimately force me to finish training in TKD and hand the club over to Stacey Weatherer. To say I was gutted was an understatement. After 3 years of struggling along with my ankle I eventually had a replacement left ankle joint.

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Ashley went over to kick boxing in Birmingham where he was living and working, then moved to Nottingham and still kick boxing. He eventually moved to Manchester where just before the Covid pandemic started, he was training at a Boxing club. Carly finished her degree at Birmingham and got a place at Manchester University and started to train with a ITF club there.

One lasting memory I have of my TKD time was when I went to Ghana with Master Gayle, Daniel Lammin, Ian Bedborough, Chris Wood, and Miss Lou Reeve. We visited the villages and the PUMA project out there. I got to meet the Minister for Sport and lots of other dignitaries. The people were so friendly and the children's happy faces and beautiful smiles were incredible. A very humbling experience.

Atkinson story We attended seminars, PUMA days, Black Belt training days, Black Belt competitions, local area squad training, and also were part of the NCTKD demo team. Carly achieved 2nd degree with distinction, Ashley achieved 3rd degree with distinction, and I achieved 3rd degree with credit.
TKD really was our life for 11 brilliant years where we made some great friends and met some inspiring people. I would like to thank Dennis and Sue Salt, and all the NCTKD instructors for their help along the way.
Also a special mention for my wife Sandra, who took care of the admin side of running the Cheadle club and also taking the time to run Carly down to Yatefor Flowering Youth training on several occasions.