Korean martial arts in Manchester

August 15, 2009 at 11:10 am 1 comment

Through my work I came across a martial arts class close to my home and decided to go along. I’ve dabbled a bit – I did judo for a while, nearly 20 years ago now, but that is how I trashed my knee, an injury that has dogged my fitness attempts ever since. I’ve since done a bit of kickboxing training but have been unable to keep it up regularly due to trouble with my knee. Last year, at the height (depths?) of my depression, when I could barely stop crying except to want to kill everybody who came in my way, I looked into taking it up again as an outlet, but the (mixed-style) school close to my home was extremely expensive and you had to pay for a year of two/three classes a week in advance.

Anyway, last night’s class looked promising. The guy on the phone was nice, it was held at a local council facility, and I was told it was around £5 per class. The style of martial art turned out to be something called Tae Soo Do, a non-combat or sports form of a more intense Korean martial art called Hwa Rang Do. The non-combat part appealed to me – I like hitting things but am (usually) not keen on hitting people. I was a bit worried when the class started out with a warm up of jumping jacks. A year ago I would have been out right there, but I didn’t embarrass myself and managed to keep up. Later on in the class, I was also one of the few people who did around a minute of full push-ups instead of kneeling push ups. Thank you Craig. The kicking and punching style was very similar to what I have done before. As there is no fighting, people seem to graduate to the next level simply on katas. There was a graduation the next day so a bit of the time was spent practising these, which would probably be a bit different to a regular class. Plus, I got to break a kick-board with my feet! How cool is that? The only thing that worried me was that they seemed to be a bit pretentious – overly caught up in the formality/military background, even when sitting down talking about the school. I can understand that formality whilst training, but it just seems a bit silly otherwise. I trained in Japan for a few years, and had several senseis (teachers), none of whom behaved like that outside of practice.

But after that it all went down hill. That £5 per class was the average cost when you paid up front for two classes per week for a year. I have a masters course coming up that is going to cost nearly £6,000. I am not ready to fork out that kind of money on something I don’t know if I will be able to keep up twice a week for a year. I will be working full time as well as taking on a full-time masters. Plus, this morning, my knee was really sore – what about injury?

A few years ago, while I was living in Australia and doing Judo, there was another class running at the same facility. This one was in hapkido, another Korean martial art and it looked really fun. At the time, I was nowhere near fit enough, either cardiovascularly or with my knee, to try it out. But after my disappointment about the business plan of the school last night, I thought I might look it up again. If you are interested in the martial arts and a bit confused about the different ones this site provides a good overview, and also a family tree showing how the Korean martial arts evolved and how they are related to each other. I also came across an amusing (but a little sad) thread on a martial arts forum about how to recognise if your dojang (korean for dojo) is a “McDojang”. I’m going to reproduce it in full here because while this is specifically about hapkido, the following danger signs seem to apply to all the martial arts schools in south Manchester that I have come across, particularly the business plan:

  1. Does the Hapkido school where you train accept any and ALL students willing to pay and join?
  2. Were you required to pay an initiation surcharge, a full year of fees (or MUCH more), buy a uniform, patches and or additional equipment immediately apon signing up?
  3. Were you instructed to attend the school only at very limited specific times?
  4. Have you been pressured to sign up for special costly Black Belt or Master’s programs?
  5. Are their significantly more students in the total population under 16 than over 25, and are there numerous black belts under the age of 16?
  6. Are you required to grade for a higher rank every few months and does virtually EVERY student pass, regardless of skill?
  7. Does the ‘average” student require LESS than four years to grade through levels (10 + with increasing testing fees at each), to achieve a black belt?
  8. Do the Hapkido students basically kick with the same motions as Tae Kwon Do practitioners?
  9. Are the classes very large, your personal space small and one on one instruction (unless you pay for ‘private’ training) very limited?
  10. Do YOU in your heart feel more like a revenue stream (the club uses an outside billing company for example), with a member number than an aspiring martial artist?
  11. BONUS QUESTION FOR EXTRA INSIGHT: Does the instructor claim unrealistic Dan Rankings in Hapkido and/or MORE styles for a person of their age?


Of course there could be some unusual exceptions.
However, if you answered YES to eight or more of these questions, there can be no doubt.

Very educational. Yes to all of those – for the mixed-style kickboxing school and the Tae Soo Do. I appreciate that in modern western society, people have to make a living. It is not like in ancient Korea/China/Japan where a little old master taught three specially chosen students out of his house for 18 hours a day for 20 years – these people are running a business, and I don’t actually have a problem with that. But do I feel like a revenue stream? Absolutely. You join, pay a large joining fee (but get a ‘free’ uniform), pay for a 12-month programme, or 36-month black-belt programme, you take a new grading every two months, at additional cost, etc etc. I just want to do something physical, powerful, and get fit and strong. So I learned a bit, but unfortunately, what I didn’t find was a hapkido class in or around Manchester, whether “pure” or “McDojang”.

I did however find a shaolin kung fu class held just a couple of blocks from my house. It is £8 a class (pricey) but seems to be on a per class basis, with monthly payment options available for regular students. I am booked in to the next induction session at the beginning of September, so I will report back on that. In the meantime, I may go away and check on Tae Kwon Do classes or Muay Thai boxing and see what I find. If anybody out there has any recommendations, please feel free to comment.


Entry filed under: exercise, fat loss, heath and fitness, Manchester, Martial Arts, Turbulence Training, weight loss.

Turbulence Training 5th Transformation Contest – end of week 11 Making SMART goals SMARTER

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Blubberbegone Stats

  • Start: 16 stone, 45.7% body fat
  • Goal: 10 stone, 20% body fat
  • Today: 14 stone 13.6 lbs, 44.8% BF
  • Pounds lost: 14.4
  • Body fat lost: 0.9%
  • Exercise this week (Sat–Fri):
  • Total: 2 hr 5 mins
  • Jog/Walk: 20 mins
  • Walking: 20 mins
  • Burlesque: 1 hr
  • Pilates: 25 mins
  • African dance: mins
  • Tae Kwon Do: mins
  • Badminton: mins
  • Tai Chi: mins
  • Yoga: hr
  • Exercise last week: 4 hrs 40 mins
  • Joke of the Day

    I'm not fat - I'm a woman and a half.


    My Weight Loss Goals

  • 1. Crack 15 stone (210 lbs) for the fourth and final (I hope) time.
  • 2. Lose 10% of my body fat (14 stone 4).
  • 3. Fit into a size 18 (US 16).
  • 4. Get my body fat below 40%
  • 5. Lose another 10% of my body fat (12 stone 12/180 lbs).
  • 6. Get my BMI under 30 (12 stone 9/177 lbs) - no longer obese, just overweight now.
  • 7. Weigh less than my husband.
  • 8. Fit into a size 16 (US 14).
  • 9. Lose my third 10% (11 stone 8/162 lbs).
  • 10. Fit into a size 14 (US 12).
  • 11. Get my BMI under 25 (10 stone 8/148 lbs).
  • 12. Lose my fourth 10% (10 stone 6/ 146 lbs).
  • 13. Fit into a size 12 (US 10).
  • 14. Reach my goal weight (10 stone) and decide if I need to lose any more based on my muscularity and shape.
  • 15. Turn heads in a bikini!
  • My Fitness Goals for 2011

  • 1. Increase my cruising walking speed from around 5.0kph to 6.4kph.
  • 2. Increase continuous jogging time to 30 mins.
  • 3. Run a 5K for charity.
  • 4. Work on my crawl stroke and build up to 30 mins continuous swimming.
  • 5. Build up to 1 hour continuous and comfortable cycling.
  • 6. Squat 50kg.
  • 7. Do an unassisted chin up.
  • 8. Take a martial arts or self-defence class for at least 3 months.
  • 9. Beat my husband at badminton.
  • 10. Learn a new dance style.
  • My Blubber Reduction Journey

  • My highest measured weight ever:
  • Jan 1 2006 = 238 lbs (17 stone)
  • BBG blog starting weight:
  • Sep 16 2007 = 215.5 lbs (15 stone 5.5), 47.0% BF Lean body mass 114.2 lbs (8 stone 2.2)
  • Highest weight posted since then:
  • Xmas 2008 = 223.6 lbs (15 stone 13.6), 48.2% BF, lean body mass 116.0 lbs (8 stone 4)
  • Lowest weight posted since then:
  • Nov 16 2009 = 193.2 lbs (13 stone 11.2), 43.7% BF, lean body mass 108.8 lbs (7 stone 10.8)
  • Lowest body fat posted since then:
  • Sep 7 2009 = 194.2 lbs (13 stone 12.2), 42.6% BF, lean body mass 111.5 lbs (7 stone 13.5)
  • My blubber reduction journey 2011:
  • Xmas 2010 = 221.6 lbs, 46.7% BF, 118.1 lbs LBM
  • 5 Jan = 221.0 lbs, 47.1% BF
  • 12 Jan = 219.6 lbs, 45.8% BF
  • 19 Jan = 220.4 lbs, 45.8% BF (TTOM)
  • 26 Jan = 218.8 lbs, 45.2% BF
  • 2 Feb = 218.8 lbs, 44.7% BF
  • 9 Feb = 219.4 lbs, 44.9% BF
  • 16 Feb = 215.8 lbs, 44.6% BF
  • 23 Feb = 213.2 lbs, 45.2% BF
  • 2 Mar = 211.6 lbs, 45.9% BF
  • 9 Mar = 209.8 lbs, 45.1% BF
  • 16 Mar = 208.8 lbs, 45.3% BF
  • 23 Mar = 208.0 lbs, 45.1% BF
  • 13 Apr = 208.4 lbs, 44.4% BF
  • 20 Apr = 207.6 lbs, 43.3% BF
  • 27 Apr = 205.0 lbs, 45.8% BF
  • 4 May = 209.2 lbs, 45.2% BF (TTOM)
  • No. weeks: 18
  • Average weekly weight loss: 0.31%
  • 101 in 1001

    28 down, 5 goals revoked, 68 to go, and 94 days to do them. Check out the 101 page, above, for all the latest on my journey to be a better blubberbegone.


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