Meet our new 4th and 5th Dans
Reaching 4th and 5th Dan is a huge achievement in martial arts, as it involves a long-term commitment to training of around 13-20 years. It is often a huge feat of determination to keep the training habit going, particularly as those 13-20 years can throw up huge life changes (house moves, job changes and families).
Our new 4th and 5th Dans deserve recognition for the longevity they have shown in their practice and the time and effort they have invested to get where they are now.
I have asked each of them to share a bit of their TKD journey with us. I hope you will join me in congratulating each of them on their new promotions.
More photos coming soon!
Promoted to 4th Dan Black Belt
“I started training when I was 12 years old at the Aylesbury club and gained my 1st Dan when I was 16. I started to assist more at the club, to eventually covering full classes and I was then given the opportunity to teach my own club in Bicester. I now teach a variety of students from green belt to Dan grades.
Taking my 4th Dan was me kicking myself to step up my training and to personally improve. Whilst teaching my own class, working in the office and covering for other instructors, I'm also in a band (which can be like a full-time job at times), so I found it hard to train regularly and focus whilst juggling gigs, festivals and making it to classes - but even though I have trained sporadically, I like to think I've kept the same personal standards I was taught when I was 16.
For me, Taekwondo has been a way of de-stressing and I've found I can express myself through the Art. It shall always be way of escaping any obstacles that life throws at me.
Thank you to Mr Parks for always prodding me to train and Mrs Bytom for teaching me how to slow down and see things from different angles.”
Gena Perevedentsev: Promoted to 4th Dan Black Belt (Gena is originally from Moscow and began training at our Maidenhead club around 15 years ago)
“My first introduction into the world of Martial Arts was in the late 70s. At the time, I envisaged my future as cosmonaut, dreaming of stars, like Yuri Gagarin. However, stories of a mysterious sect of nomadic monks from the East were pulling in different direction. Deemed a criminal offence in the USSR at the time, Martial Arts could only be practiced in an underground network of improvised gyms. It so happened that as I travelled through this network I met people who sparked in me an everlasting interest in the Arts. And now, many years later, and although my flying is restricted to lower than space orbits, it remains a large part of my life. I still have to learn to live with the new 4th Dan, but I dedicate it, gratefully, to all of those who have helped and encouraged me along this route.”
Surjit Sidhu: Promoted to 4th Dan Black Belt
“I started training around September 1979 and received my first dan in 1982 under Master Rhe ka Ha academy in Glasgow which was under ITF.
In that time I enter many tournaments from coloured belt to black belt, which I enjoyed immensely as it gave me a chance to show my kicking skills against other opponents.
To me the skill in kicking in Tae Kwon Do is brilliant and over the years has gotten even better.
My second grading in 1984 was under Master He Il Cho and at the same time had the privilege seeing General Cho Hong He.
I also received my first degree instructors and referees certification.
Our training in those days were very stringent and quite straight forward, where as now it has evolved with new information available.
Before I could take my 3rd dan under the TAGB my life path took me in a different direction.
In 2011 I started teaching with Kam Shergill at Singh Sabah Tae Kwon Do Reading which is under BTKD.
I enjoy teaching which is a privilege when you see the students progress and achieve there goals. The club has now been going for 8 years with over 50 students.
Since I have been with BTKD I have received my 3rd dan back in 2014, as well as been involved in other aspects of TKD.
Five years on (wow!time has flew by)I was encouraged by Christie to take my 4th dan, which I took about two weeks ago. Only lasted about two n half hours!!
I found this grading most uplifting in my training and asking myself questions about TKD, the meaning of the syllabus behind each patterns, interpretation of the movements etc.
Training under Btkd organisation is truly enriching, empowering and improving lives.
Now back to train hard for my 5th Dan!”
Mehrdad Ghane: Promoted to 4th Dan Black Belt
“I am in my early 50s and started Taekwondo in 1982 when I was 16 years old.
I truly believe my Taekwondo changed my life for the better. It helped me with both physical and mental health, with my confidence and self-discipline. Through TKD I met those who inspired me to go to university and get a career in IT, I managed to pay for my university education as during my student years I worked at night clubs in London and also I help others by teaching TKD.
I trained in 4 different Martial Arts (Karate, Kan Zen Ryo - TaeKwondo (ITF, WTF, WTTU), KungFu Nam Pai Chuan/Shaolin and Jiu-Jitsu ) however my main Martial Art and the one which I spent most years and still enjoy to this day is Taekwondo. I never could imagine I will be still doing Taekwondo in my 50s and am planning to continue as long as my body lets me!
My WTF Taekwondo training upto/including the 2nd Dan was mainly focused on sparing and competition, the only way you were considered good, was being good in sparring and do well in competition...training sessions were long and hard, fair amount of body conditioning, and it required a lot of stamina, we spent half of session focused on stretching and getting flexible to allow kicking high section and jumping kicks.
I used to watch Bruce Lee and other Chinese KungFu movies from a young age... I was lucky as my best friend's older brother who was a Brown belt in Karate at the time, took his brother and me to learn Karate at the age of 10.
I started TKD in Tehran/Iran in Jan 1982 - training 3 times per week, each session was 90mins long (which was the normal recommendation for any martial art training)..
Initially practicing/learning the ITF style since it was the only style practiced in Iran - it took me just 18 months to pass my Blue belt, then Iranian TKD Federation switched to WTF style so all clubs including where I was training, started teaching WTF style including WTF patterns...I started learning WTF from mid 1983 after I got my blue belt.
At the time of starting TKD, I was still in full-time education at college, also on top of being a full-time student I was also doing 4 hours per day apprenticeship at an Engineering firm, therefore the only time that I could train was early morning - I was lucky to have found a great instructor (Master Rahimi, who was a young 3rd Dan Instructor) he was running a club between 6:00-7:30am, 3 times per week so I joined and started my TKD at this club.
During school summer holidays (3+ months June-Sept) - I doubled my TKD training sessions to 6 times per week (3 mornings & 3 afternoons) this allowed me to accelerate my learning, I become the first student from our club to achieve 1st dan, in just under 4 years. I used to help out with my instructor's kids classes during school summer breaks when I had a bit more time..
In April 1986 I moved to London to try get into a university and later after my degree I decided to settle in UK, between 1986-1988 I tried a couple of different TKD (WTF) clubs in London, I trained with a Korean 5 Dan Master (Master Kim) in Wimbledon south London and I managed to get my 2nd Dan in WTF and also for 3 months I trained with a second Korean Master (Master Lim) both having clubs in South London while I was living in North London, it used to take me over 3 hours in travel time on top of the training time, it wasnt easy but for a couple of years I did it..
In late 1988 my best friend in London who was a black belt in Shaolin KungFu (Nam Pai Chuan) asked me to join their club which was taught by his Malaysian Master (Sifu Christopher Lai Khee Choong) in Golders Green North London, not far from where I was living.. between 1988-1990 for nearly 3 years I trained under Sifu Lai... I really enjoyed training in Nan Pia Chuan and managed to advance to Brown belt, combing my advanced kicking and sparring from Taekwondo with kungfu's short range hand-techniques, low stances, various self-defense techniques, the 3 years of KungFu helped me to widen my knowledge beyond just kicking and sparring.
1986-1990 - during this period I took part in a number of Taekwondo, Kungfu and mixed Martial arts sparring competitions across UK, I won a number of medals and trophies..as well as losing a few too :)
In 1990 - through a mutual friend I met with a Korean 5th dan Master (Mul Kun Lee) who was based in US as well as met with Grand Master 9th Dan (H. U. Lee) who had set up a new Taekwondo organisation in US called ATA (American Taekwondo Association), this organisation Internationally known as WTTU - World Traditional Taekwondo Union) and the Grand Master wanted to expand his style to other countries. After a few meetings, I liked their way of teaching and the comprehensive syllabus very similar to ITF, however different patterns, more focused on traditional Taekwondo with a modern teaching methods. I decided to join their organisation and later that year I started teaching...
In Sept 1990, I opened my first club in North West London teaching Taewondo WTTU sytle..
in 1991 I passed my 3rd dan and became a certified Instructor - later that year I was invited by Grand Master H.U. Lee to attend their annual instructor camp for 2 weeks in Korea, it was always a dream to go to Taekwondo motherland, really excited to experience and train in Korea..we trained with the Korean Special forces and stayed at their Army camp for 2 days, went to Kukkiwon (WTF HQ in Seoul) and had 8-10 hours of daily training and seminars.
I never had any formal instructor training…when the opportunity came I took it, I spent as much time as I could, with Grand Master H.U. Lee and also Master Mul kun Lee in UK, US and Korea, learning a lot of syllabus and more importantly how to teach..
In 1992 - I opened my first kids class with over 30 kids enrolled - I now had two clubs (4 training sessions per week, 2 for adults and 2 for kids).
In 1993 - after I graduated from University, got my first full-time job in Computer/IT, unfortunately I no longer could keep the kids classes and I passed this club to another TKD instructor however I still kept teaching my adult classes.
In 1996 - I passed my 4th dan black belt and I continued teaching TKD until mid 2001, as I changed my day job, I started travelling oversea as a result I could not keep a regular schedule hence I decided to stop teaching TKD.
I continued my Taekwondo on irregular basis joining another WTTU instructor's club whenever I had time (2-3 times per month).
2004 -2007, I stopped going to any martial arts training due to high work load, family commitment, my son was born, and I started studying MBA at university at weekends..
2007-2009 I trained at a Jiu-jitsu club, once a week, this helped me to broaden my knowledge also picked up various new self-defense techniques focusing on hand locks and body throws and grappling..
In 2011 - I returned to Taekwondo when we moved to Hemel Hempstead, I was looking for a good club for my son to start TKD, after watching Graham Park's class and Bytomic Taekwondo, I was impressed with his teaching and his passion for Taekwondo, I initially signed up my son Raadin and after a few months I started training myself..
I wasn’t planning to take any further dan grading, I enjoyed training TKD and also sharing knowledge with others, however since last year with support and encouragement from my Instructor Graham Park and Ms Bytom, I began a more focused training plan, often attending 4 sessions per week, learning the ITF syllabus and dan grade requirements, leading to taking the 4th Dan grading last month and managed to pass it, which makes so happy and proud to achieve the 4th Dan in ITF and Bytomic TKD.
TKD is a great Martial Art, however the organisation, the role of its leadership and Instructors are key to make to create a training environment that is impactful, enjoyable and worthwhile, I truly enjoy my time here and always looking forward to the next training session”
Promoted to 5th Dan Black Belt
I started training in 1996. A friend wanted to give it a try, but didn’t want to go alone, so asked me to go too. She quit at green belt, but I had well and truly got the bug!
I took a 5 month break after having my son 3 years ago, and I really struggled with the change in my level of fitness (and my ability to remember the names of the patterns, let alone the moves!) when I returned. At the time, I couldn’t see how I would ever get to a point where I would be ready to grade again.
However, with the help of Christie and the Black Belt sessions and an extremely supportive Instructor (and equally supportive Husband!) I have spent the past 9 months doing exactly that!
Achieving my 5th Dan has shown me the importance of perseverance and that, although the path you take may not always be what you expected, you can still get to where you want to be.
Promoted to 5th Dan Black Belt
I am lucky to have a varied martial arts experience, my first lesson involved a small sports room, with 4 other students. The instructor punched me on the nose and reckoned if I came back to the next class I was dedicated. I did not grade until I worked in the States for 6 months and managed to find a karate club that did ITF patterns!. When I returned to the UK I joined the TAGB, April ’93, with Brian Towndrow. I trained in the midlands for 7 years, with a number of instructors as I travelled with work.
I achieved my black belt in 1996, and training for competition became a big part. I would be known to drive from a client meeting, to Warwick on a FRiday, Crewe on a Saturday with Ralph Minott on a Saturday morning and then National Squad training at (now Loughborough) on the afternoon, then to Derby on a Sunday (about 10 hours training in a weekend!). I competed in sparring at three World Championships, (representing Northern Ireland, and Scotland and the B women’s English team), and got bronze at the Polish World cup in 2001.
I started my own club in Woodley in early 2003 running it 18 months until I had my own young family, and doing reverse turning kicks with an 18 month old on my hip was just no longer viable (as much as she liked it). I trained with Pat Carter at Cressex briefly for the 2005 Worlds (as a veteran), but then after my 4th dan grading I had a break due to injury and a young family, and joined Bytomic about 6 Years ago, having asked Christie’s help with remembering my patterns first.
I love the variety of TaeKwonDo … I also do Kickboxing (and did Jujitsu for a couple of years a long time ago). But there is no sport with the variety of TKD. Floor work, pads, self defence, patterns, sparring, breaking and that amongst the variety of different instructors and training with each other throws in. And it is not just the physical training, but the mental challenge of learning, and I learn something every lesson .
Being a 5th dan is a continuation of the journey – at coloured belt you are learning the grades, at black belt you have time to learn the art. For me this grading has been a mental and physical challenge – in my 50s rather than my 30s when I last took a grading. I have organised family life around the extra training sessions, I have had to get help with learning takedowns (I avoided it for the last 20 years). The outcome is more a sense of calm and acceptance of myself as a martial artist. I mostly hope I can inspire others to persevere and keep training. I enjoyed the journey of preparing for my 5th dan and also realise that is another step forward, and that I will continue to learn.
To anyone thinking of something for them or their children, for mental and physical agility, training in martial arts is an astounding way of gaining all of this and more. A life long skill, it helps with for confidence and self-belief, you can train together and can be continued to any age.