Technical Advisor to the Taekwondo Alliance
The Taekwondo Alliance we are very proud and honoured to have Grandamster Ted Hopwood as our technical adviser. GM Hopwood has tested some of the best martial artists in Europe!
A brief synopsis of my life in Taekwon-Do
I started training in 1968 under Mr. John Crust (1st Dan) who was an ex-army man at the Oxford University sports centre and the lessons were very hard and very physical. Whilst training there I saw Master Rhee who was giving a demonstration at Oxford University and I remember he broke a brick with his head and other breaking techniques including a flying high kick on tiles. He was awesome. After seeing all that, I was truly hooked on Taekwon-Do.
I used to train 5 times a week including going to Coventry once a week to train under Master Rhee as he lived there at the time. Initially, the Korean terminology was different than what we use today, as the Koreans took out the Japanese element, therefore we had to learn some of it all over again. In those days even the uniforms were different, the trousers only came down just passed the knee, the top was a fold over jacket and the colour was slightly creamy; and we never used sparring equipment such as hand pads, etc.
Taekwon-Do is evolving all the time, new techniques are being brought in, fitness training is improving as is diet for practitioners, and that is how it should be.
During the early years and mid-seventies Master Rhee was very busy promoting Taekwon-Do and he had a few of us with him to go around the United Kingdom and give demonstrations. I remember one particular demonstration in Northampton. Master Rhee had a large poster and programme done for the demonstration with a photo and write up about each of us.
As Master Rhee was very busy he would often call upon me to take gradings for him and I wound up conducting many of them for him all over the United Kingdom. This was a great honour.
Gradings in those days were very hard and would go on for hours at a time; breaking was compulsory for yellow belts and above. The breaking materials were pine boards and roof tiles (no breaker boards at the time). I had to buy in hundreds of tiles and lots of boards. For a single grading, about twelve or fifteen tiles were placed across two bricks and students had to either punch, elbow or knife hand them. It was not unusual to finish a grading long past midnight.
In the early gradings we did not have any theory, that was brought in, I think, in the eighties. After gradings, students would have to wait a couple of weeks before they received their grade.
I organised a competition against London and at that time Raymond Choi (1st Dan) was their instructor. We held it at Blackbird leys Sports Centre. The event was a sell out and we beat London 7-1. The atmosphere was electric and afterwards Master Rhee and a few of us gave a Black Belt demonstration. The audience was amazed. We also beat London at the Oxford Town Hall in another competition I organized a year later.
In 1974 I was asked to represent the UK in the first Taekwon-Do World Championships in Montreal Canada along with Bert Callender (1st Dan) from South Wales. It just the two of us and it was fantastic, although the only medal we achieved between us was when I came away with a bronze medal for the flying high kick. We were introduced to several Masters including General Choi. After the competition finished we were invited to go to Boston and New York to give demonstrations by a couple of Korean masters and we were looked after very well.
The Montreal competition was held in the Forum, a massive place where they held the boxing in the Olympics and it was run with precision. Many Masters were there, including Master Hee Il Cho who gave a fantastic demonstration. We met many people in the competition from all over the world and most of them had heard of Master Rhee and were always asking us about him. There were lots of countries taking part, the medals and trophies were huge, some of the trophies were over 4 feet tall!
I was part of the UKTA council at the time and we had twelve members throughout the United Kingdom as well as Master Rhee, who met at regular intervals and helped to organize everything. In my opinion we set the foundations of the UKTA and Taekwon-Do as it is today.
During my training, I double graded a few times and when I achieved red belt started my own Taekwon_Do club in Headington Oxford in a very large building with no heat or showers and in the winter it was very cold. I also still trained at the Oxford University and every 2 or 3 months I travelled to Master Rhee’s academy in Glasgow for weekend training.
As the years progressed Oxford clubs started to enter more competitions and produced some very good fighters such as Orello Ellis and Basil Lewis just to name a couple and who became world champions at that time.
In 1971, I took and achieved my Black belt 1st Degree grading in Coventry under Master Rhee and remember that we had to knife hand a brick laid across 2 bricks and those who did not break it with their hand had to elbow it. Then under Master Rhee took my 2nd, 3rd and 4th Degrees after which I left the UKTA. I also graded under Master Hee Il Cho for my 5th and 6th Degrees, while 7th and 8th were awarded to me whilst in the GTI. 2013 saw me receiving my 9th Grand Master Degree from some very respected Taekwon-Do practitioners in the United Kingdom and Ireland, many of them are world champions.
My advice to people starting out in Taekwon-Do would be to find a good, recognized school, train hard, especially at stretching for flexibility, and enjoy it.
I think what I have enjoyed in my Taekwon-Do career is the family feeling we have between us all and the hard training and if students work hard at their training and try to adhere to the tenets of Taekwon-Do not just in training but in all walks of their life then I feel they will have bright future.
I contracted Multiple Sclerosis in the early 1980’s but still carried on training, teaching and taking gradings and stopped training in 2006 due to the MS and now only teach students privately one on one. I am now in a wheelchair and I travel and take gradings throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland.
A few of the students from various associations who have been graded by me in 2013:
- Master Clive Harrison 7th to 8th Degree
- Master Dave Bonthuys 6th to 7th Degree
- Master Andy Jackson 6th to 7th Degree
- Master John Kirkwood 6th to 7th Degree
- Jason Bonthuys 4th to 5th Degree
- Paul Wanklyn 4th to 5th Degree
- Benjamin Bonthuys 3rd to 4th Degree
- Sarah Hall 3rd to 4th Degree
- Veer Shah 1st to 2nd Degree
- Christopher Brown 1st to 2nd Degree
To vist GM Hopwoods own site, please log onto http://www.tedhopwoodtkd.com