I started training in Tae Kwon Do in 1999 after some persuasion from my two younger brothers. A demonstration was held one evening in our local primary school and after watching this they were enthralled and persuaded me to join along with them.
I joined under Mr Johnson, now 6th degree black belt, under the GTI association. My brothers and I all took our first grading together and we all successfully passed, I managed to pass with the highest result possible which gave me a taste of what I could achieve. I soon found that Taekwondo was something that I thoroughly enjoyed, and although my brothers soon lost interest I decided to continue with my training. Over the years through training I have been presented with many opportunities to learn other new and exciting skills, including self-defence and pressure points.
I started entering competitions as a yellow belt for both patterns and sparring, and have entered many national competitions over the years. With the help of extra fitness sessions available as ‘fight clubs’ I have obtained many medals and trophies over the years, including the British championships, and English championships.
I passed all my coloured belt gradings with the highest possible passes and in 2005 I felt ready to go for my 1st Dan grading. This was held in Andover and it was very daunting to be graded under five inspiring people. The grading panel consisted of Grand Master Hopwood, now 9th Dan, and Master Harrison, now 8th Dan among others. I feel very privileged to have graded under Grand Master Hopwood, as he became one of the first people in the country to achieve a black belt.
After achieving my black belt I wanted to progress my training further and sought the opportunity to become and instructor myself so I could give other people the chance to benefit from training as I had done. I became an assistant instructor for Mr Manuschka in 2006. In 2007 I took my 2nd Dan grading in Derby, again under Master Harrison, 8th Dan, among others, and again successfully passed.
In 2010 my instructor and some others left the GTI and became founding members of NITA, and asked if I would become the association’s treasurer. Around this time I began to train with my husband Luke, who was 4th Dan at the time, who helped me to properly prepare for my 3rd Dan grading. In the same year I successfully passed my 3rd Dan grading under Grand Master Hopwood and Master Harrison, among others. I took my 4th Dan in 2013 and was the first person in the area to be awarded a special commendation certificate from Grand Master Hopwood himself!
In 2010, after passing my 3rd Dan I decided to open up some new clubs with my now husband, Luke. We opened our first clubs in my hometown of Hereford. Our first joint students to achieve black belt did so in October 2011. We have continued to train students to work their way through the ranks to black belts since then and have also trained up our own students to become instructors themselves.
In March 2012 I took part in the Puma world championships hosted in Swindon, England. I entered in the ladies lightweight category with over 25 other competitors entering in this division from all over the world. I successfully fought my way through the first round and I narrowly missed out by a few points in the second round to my competitor who went on to win the Bronze medal. I had not trained for over 12 months prior to the World Championships and although I did not take a medal on the day it was the first time I had ever entered a world championship and it was still a real achievement for me. I have since entered again in 2014 and went on to become a Gold Medal winner and as such hold the title of World Champion!
I have benefited from continuing my training in more ways than just fitness. Training has given me so much confidence and the ability to believe in myself to achieve great things.
Mrs Sarah Hall,
4th Degree Black Belt.