Miss Emma Deakin

Miss Emma Deakin 5th Degree - My TKD Journey thus far...

Instructor of Chesterfield Tae Kwon Do

Mr Salt contacted me a few weeks ago and asked if I would write a piece for the New Century Website about my achievements in Tae Kwon Do and my initial reaction was really? Why me? Do I have too? When I compare myself to so many, I don't consider my achievements to be that spectacular, neither have I ever kept a list or diary of the medals that I have won! But then I began to reflect a little on what Tae kwon Do has given me over the years and what a big part it has played in shaping not only my lifestyle, but also the person I am today.

So inspired recently by reading posts on social media about how people's TKD Journey began and by stumbling across some old pictures, I thought I would give you a brief insight to some of the experiences I have had.

My first entrance into a Do-Jang was nearly 27 years ago at the age of 13, I went along to Chesterfield TKD TAGB School, Instructed by Mr Gary Bradshaw (2nd Degree at the time) because my best mate Ben had started!

I remember my first lesson vividly. It was in a small village hall with perhaps 10 or 12 students. I remember working with one of the black belts and learning how to front kick on a kick shield. I also remember seeing some of the other students spar and I was instantly hooked! From the very first lesson, I couldn't wait to put some sparring equipment on!

After a few lessons, my parents could see that I was keen to enrol. I had always been sporty and played every sport going for school. I had also been to a number of sports clubs (including dance- yeah right mum- whatever!). But Tae Kwon Do seemed to click with me.

Initially mum and dad were a little unsure whether to let me continue. As a Christian family, there were concerns about the 'tenets' of Tae Kwon Do and the 'doctrine' that this may entail along with the thought that their 'little girl' would be learning to 'fight'!! But I was insistent that this was something that I wanted to do and inevitable over the years both mum and dad have realised that actually the moral culture of Tae Kwon Do is something that can benefit everyone.

   ... anyway that was the start of my TKD journey !

Initially as previously alluded to, my passion in Tae Kwon Do was sparring; I wasn't particularly interested in learning patterns! It was quickly realised that I was quite good at this and right from the start I was encouraged to enter competitions. At Yellow Belt Green Stripe aged 14, I entered my first English Championships and won Gold in point stop sparring. I continued to compete regularly, winning some but also learning to loose along the way.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for patterns, I achieved my Black Belt at 17 and then just before starting University in 1998, after some gruelling training with the area TAGB squad, I was selected to take part in the TAGB World Championships in Birmingham.

I was over the moon and despite loosing in my first round against a Scottish competitor; it was, at that point, one of the best things I had ever taken part in. The atmosphere, level of competition and the team camaraderie was truly amazing.

During University years, I did very little TKD, but once returning to Chesterfield, my hometown, a birthday card from my old instructor, Mr Bradshaw (now with PUMA), encouraged me back through the door. From here on in, I have never looked back.
Black belt at 17

I quickly got back into competing on a National and International scene. I travelled with the PUMA team to Ireland and success there gave me the push I needed to trial for the 2004 ITF WorId Championships In Korea. With a little bit of talent, and blood, sweat and tears, I fought my way through some tough competition to represent ITF England and be a member of the 5 lady team.

Korea was just AWESOME! Not only was it an honour to represent England again in World Championships, but to do so where TKD originated was incredible. Individually I won Silver in sparring, loosing in the final to a lady from Argentina and as a ladies team we picked up medals in patterns, breaking and special techniques. To bring home medals was the icing on the cake. Being part of a team, meeting new friends from around the globe and just being there was something that I will always cherish.

This was the start of a 12 plus year stint of competing and I have been fortunate enough to travel around the world with teams of marvellous people. I have won many medals, including a World Championship Gold medal (PUMA Open 2010) along the way. The Birmingham ITF World Championships, Holland, Croatia and Puerto Ricca are competitions I reflect fondly on along with many a fight night; Clash of the Titans, Master Black Testimonial, Holland vs. England, being some of the most enjoyable.

The biggest milestone in my TKD journey however, was when I was selected to take part in a goodwill trip to Ghana. A small number of students accompanied Master Gayle and Master Ogbourne to help fund raise for a new TKD Dojang and raise the awareness of the art amongst the Ghanaians. The trip is possibly the most eye opening and humbling experience of my life. I will never forget the deprivation that so many faced, yet how happy they were at the same time. I remember watching youngsters play football in the street with only one sandal on, and young boys over the moon to be playing with an abandoned car tyre. I remember visiting the local orphanage and just how loving the children were, despite living in what we would consider squalor and with illness that in many cases couldn't be treated. There smiles as we played with them, hugged them and gave them a little attention is something that I will never forget.

The whole experience made me realise just how much western countries have and how much I take for granted in my day-to-day life. A reality check and something that I often think back to!

More recently, October 2019, achieving my 5th degree is something that I am proud of. It had taken a long time in coming, and I had held back for a number of years, wanting to do it when the time was right. I had the privilege of grading along side some of my students who were also taking Dan Grades and it was an absolute joy to celebrate their and my success in what proved to be a special presentation evening.

My competing years are now well behind me and for me now, its time to give back! Hopefully some of my experiences help to inspire some of my students! Being an instructor in TKD Is something that I take great pride in. Seeing my students (and others in the area) train with smiles on their faces, achieve new goals and progress in the art is something I take great pleasure from. I say with 'hand on heart' that I could not wish to be a part of a more committed, enthusiastic, hard working bunch of martial artists, both at Chesterfield TKD and in the NCTKD area. We really do have a fantastic group of instructors, students and families. When lock down is over, I know there will be lost of social times together and fingers crossed NCTKD camp!

Above I have highlighted just a small glimpse of some of my highlights, but don't get me wrong there have been hiccups along the way. Loosing in competitions you really know you should or could have won, not being selected for team events, failing my 3rd Degree pre-grading and seeing the disappointment in my students who have failed gradings, to name but some. But in reflection all have been important and have influenced my outlook on life.

My Tae Kwon Do Journey has taught me the value of hard work, perseverance and dedication to achieve goals that you simply dream of. I have learnt to win and be humble. I have learnt to loose, take rejection and to bounce back. I have learnt that sometimes you just have 'bite your lip', 'turn the other cheek' and be the 'better person'. I have learnt that to be successful you sometimes have to commit to do things you don't realty like and above all I have learnt that TKD is not just about kicking and punching!

Tae Kwon Do, really can be life changing!