Saturday, 10 December 2011

Tae Kwon Do Club Kicks Its Way To Fundraising Success

Unite Tae Kwon Do, recently held a sponsored Kickathon to raise money for a charity that helps young people through difficult times.

The target was for each student to do 1,000 kicks in an hour; a target which they smashed! Unite Chief Instructors Kai and Sarah Wilson were really pleased by the amount of money their students managed to raise; a total of £1,241.10. This money was then doubled via The Big Give website as part of a Christmas Challenge.

Kai Wilson said, “We never expected to raise that much money, but we’re so pleased with how our students got behind the Kickathon. The event was a great success and everyone completed the kicks with a smile on their face. For a small club we have a big heart.” Sarah added, “It was great to see junior and adult students working together and having fun for a good cause.” 

The charity This Way Up exists to support young people who are struggling with life changing events such as the divorce or separation of their parents or the death of someone close. Their team of trained volunteers go into schools and work with young people through their small group course “Lost & Found” or 1:1 sessions. The money raised will go towards helping the charity acquire a building from which to run more courses, facilitate additional counselling and train volunteers from around the UK.

The Kickathon coincided with the celebration of Unite Tae Kwon Do’s first year anniversary. In the year since they opened the club has gone from strength to strength and now has a good number of students who train with them twice a week. The club is run by 3rd Dan black belts Kai and Sarah Wilson and has classes for children and adults in Stourton and Kinver. If you would like to find out more about Unite please contact Kai and Sarah via the club website:

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

UPDATE- My 100,000 technique challenge- nearly 4 months on

Wow, this challenge is more difficult than I imagined it would be! It’s still slow-going and I am currently on just under 30,000 punches. I’m persevering and trying to make time to punch when I can, but it’s definitely going to take me more than 6 months. And that’s OK... I will get there.

I spoke with a few people on the last Masterclass and they were finding it difficult too, so I guess I’m not the only one. I don’t want to be hard on myself for not being on target, so rather than feel bad I need to just remember how many I have already done- that’s quite an achievement in itself. I just worked it out and I’ve probably spent around 30 hours on the challenge so far. That’s actually a really long time!

November has also been a bit of a strange month; I have been for 2 lots of x-rays on my right wrist. I’m not getting pain from punching at all, but I injured my wrist/hand a few months back and it hasn’t been right since. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your viewpoint!) I can’t put any weight on my wrist when it’s pushed back, i.e. to do press-ups, burpees, squats etc. I have been training around this, but I’m still waiting to find out exactly what’s wrong. It may be tendonitis, as nothing much showed up on the x-rays. It has made me a bit more cautious about punching, especially on the days where I’ve been getting pain. I have been doing lots of the punches into the air, which isn’t as satisfying as hitting a pad! But, like I said, punching doesn’t seem to cause the pain, so I am carrying on with the challenge.

I wonder what December will bring…

I will let you know how I’m getting on next month.

Sarah Wilson x

UPDATE: I realised I never did update the blog with how I got on with the challenge in the end! My final total was 35,500 between 7th August 2011- 8th January 2012. Not bad for 5 months, but nowhere near 100,000! 

Since that time I have continued training with Geoff Thompson after being invited to do his Black Belt Course. Over the course of my training with Geoff my punching has improved considerably after working with him and other amazing punchers on improving my technique. Still working hard and still loving it...

Saturday, 8 October 2011

My 100,000 technique challenge- 2 months on

September was not a great month for my 100,000 technique challenge; after August and the luxury of my 6 week summer holiday, I had got accustomed to being able to use my time how I wanted and September came as quite a shock. While August had been the month of excuses, September became the month of how-on-earth-am-I-going-to-fit-all-this-in??!!

So, I’m back at work and finding it hard, but today I did manage to break the 20,000 punches milestone; I’m a fifth of the way there and I am back on track after a tough month.

This month I have learnt lots….

I learnt that sometimes I need to use my time better. We all have the same 24 hours and what we choose to do with those hours determines how successful we are. Geoff Thompson devotes a chapter to this in his book, “The Elephant and the Twig”. My working week is sometimes a bit manic; I have my day job, I teach Tae Kwon Do two nights a week and I try and get my own training in during the week as well. It’s pretty full-on and can be exhausting. So, I have been looking at the things in my life that I could reduce, get rid of or improve (long journey to work, spending too long on the internet on pointless things, getting the right amount of sleep…) After chatting to Geoff and Sharon, I have been thinking about how to be more creative with my 24 hours to ensure that I finish the challenge in roughly 6 months.

I’ve also learnt that sometimes I do need to slow down and listen to my body. There’s a nasty cold going round and I caught it last month. It knocked me off my feet, which is quite unusual for me. The whole time I was ill I felt guilty for not being able to work, teach or punch and after a couple of weeks of feeling run-down I was really missing exercise and training. I wasn’t a happy bunny. I realised that I am quite guilt-driven and feel bad if I don’t continue to keep ticking things off the big to-do list that I carry around in my head. That’s not to say I want to lead a life of sloth, but maybe I could be a little kinder to myself when I don’t manage to get it all done and when I don’t get it perfect all the time.

I spoke to Geoff and Sharon about having missed a couple of weeks (felt like I was back at school and confessing to not having done my homework- which I only ever had to do once I think!! I was a good girl, me.) They were really reassuring. It’s more the commitment to the challenge and the things you learn from doing it that are important, rather than how long it takes. Saying that, I do want to complete the challenge in as short a time as possible. Like they said, there’ll be more of a sense of achievement that way.

So, I’m not sure what this next month will bring. In the 3rd Masterclass, which was last weekend, Geoff talked about the power of imagination. A good place to start October would be to imagine big things and then start making them happen, I guess…

I’ll let you know how I’m getting on next month!

Sarah Wilson x

Sunday, 11 September 2011

My 100,000 technique challenge- 1 month on

Last weekend was my second Masterclass with Geoff Thompson. That meant it had been a whole month since the first one and a whole month since I started the 100,000 technique challenge. So I thought I’d do a bit of an update on the blog to chart my progress.

So far I have done 15,940 punches (right crosses) in 35 days. That’s an average of 455 punches per day… kind of!

This challenge is incredibly unrelenting; if you miss a day you have to do double the next day (1100 punches approx). If you miss 2 days or 3 or 4… all of a sudden the task seems very daunting indeed.

On the second Masterclass Geoff urged everyone to keep on with the challenge, as the rewards would be greater than we might have imagined; that we would learn a lot about ourselves in the process of punching and along the journey we will take to reach the 100,000. I guess I am starting to see what he means by that.

I have realised that making excuses not to punch comes easier to me than I thought it would. If I punched for around half an hour a day I’d reach 100,000 easily, but some days that 30 minutes is as welcome a thought as chewing on a wasp! It’s not an exciting 30 minutes, it is bloody tiring if you put everything into it and my knuckles have constantly got a purple colour to them, and usually some rather fetching scabs to boot.

To counter the excuses my brain keeps thinking up I need to develop a strong purpose for doing this. I need a rock solid, unshakeable, brick wall of a reason for doing the challenge.

Of course, the punch itself will come in useful in a self defence situation, should I ever find myself in danger; that is, if my body doesn’t send a shed load of adrenalin coursing through my body, rendering me incapable of doing anything useful!

But, my reason has got to be more than this.

Some people have looked at me like I’m mad when I’ve told them what I’m doing, others have told me I’m mad (charming!) In a strange kind of way this makes me even more determined to finish what I have started. Geoff has a sweatshirt with “100,000 technique challenge” on it. If, no… when, I finish this challenge I’m going to get one of those. I want to go there, do that and get the sweatshirt to prove it! Ultimately though, it’s not about proving it to anyone else. I’m starting to see that to finish it will take a lot more than the need to prove something to other people.

My motivation has got to come from me, for me…and it is starting to. I am trying to catch up any days that I have missed and I do feel good when I stop making excuses and just do it. I want to prove to myself that I can do this, despite all the excuses!

I will let you know how I’m getting on next month!

Sarah Wilson x

Monday, 8 August 2011

Geoff Thompson’s Masterclass- August 2011

Yesterday I took my first steps on what I hope will be an enlightening and empowering journey. I finally had my first experience of Geoff Thompson’s Masterclass, not just from an observer’s point of view, but as a student.

I had been putting that day off for a while now, coming up with a hundred excuses why I couldn’t do it; it will be full of men and I’ll be the only woman, I might get injured, I might make myself look bad (after all, I’m a black belt, right?), it’s expensive, I don’t have the time… blah, blah, blah.

Then, just over a month ago, something just clicked and on impulse I signed up. I had one of those days when you just think, what the hell, just do it!

People have different reasons for signing up for the Masterclass. Part of my reason was that Kai had done it twice and I saw the change in him straight away. After each class he would be more positive, more reflective and more pro-active about the direction in which his life was going. I wanted some of that for me. I was becoming fed up with disempowering, negative thoughts taking over my brain and the feeling that nothing I was doing was quite good enough somehow, despite my very best efforts.

I had been to watch the Masterclass twice and had done a seminar with Geoff and Peter Consterdine in 2010. I also did a 6 week self defence course with Geoff’s son, Louis, earlier this year, so I had met Geoff a few times.  He had been nothing but lovely and just a few hours after I had hastily written my email and pressed send (before I change my mind again), he rang to confirm my place on the course. He told me not to worry, that everyone would look after me and he congratulated me on signing up. I felt like I’d already done something to be proud of in that moment.

On the way to Coventry I tried not to think of much at all, to be honest, and I succeeded pretty well. I wasn’t nervous until we actually arrived at the AT7 centre and then the nerves kicked in. Even though the people we met up with in the café had all done the Masterclass before, everyone else seemed to be really nervous too and it became one of the topics of conversation. It helped to know that I wasn’t the only one. Everyone kind of agreed that it was because you put yourself under pressure to be on your “best game”. I had recently had the experience where my “best game” hadn’t been as good as it could have/should have been, so this was my biggest worry. What if I made myself look stupid? Or weak?  Or out my depth?

We didn’t have long to wait until we were shown into the room where the Masterclass is held. Everyone just milled about a bit (looking a bit nervous still) and we saw a few more people we knew. I was pleased to see Joy and Louise, who I knew from previous Masterclasses I’d watched, but there were also 2 other ladies there. That made 5 of us (6 including Sharon); more than I was expecting.

The first hour or so was really inspiring. Geoff talked about the 100,000 technique challenge he wanted everyone to do over the 6 months. The idea behind the challenge is to achieve mastery over one technique and then take what you have learnt from the process and apply that to other areas of your life. He spoke about obstacles we might put in our own way that might prevent us from completing the challenge. I really felt like he was talking to me when he spoke about limiting thoughts that become self-fulfilling prophecies. I think everyone probably takes something slightly different from Geoff’s talks, as you tend to apply what he is saying to your own situation, but that was what really stood out for me.

Geoff introduced a guy who had come over from New Zealand to train on the Masterclass; the furthest anyone has ever travelled to attend and that was pretty amazing. It made me realise how well-respected Geoff’s teachings are, not just in this country, but all over the world. It was pretty scary as well, as here I was, putting myself in a room with a world-respected teacher, self defence expert and martial artist. What was I thinking?

We then broke off with a partner and worked on using the fence to control an aggressive situation. I had done this before, but for some reason I was shockingly bad; so self-conscious and worried about getting it wrong. I did feel more at ease after a bit though and strangely, when we started doing some posturing and I had to act more aggressively, I started to lose my nerves. It’s amazing what a bit of swearing and arm-waving can do!

I was glad when we moved on to the punching though. It was really good to see Sharon demonstrating this as well as Geoff, as I’d only ever seen the men do it. I punch all the time in my martial arts training, but this is a different kind of punching; this is knockout stuff. I was pleased that my punching was pretty strong, although I know I need to work on bringing more energy up from within on the exhale if it’s going to get better still.

In the session we also covered chokes and strangles, which was brilliant. I’ve never been able to get these on very well, but I learnt lots of little things from Dean, who I was partnered with and from the instructors, so that I could do them with some confidence by the end.

So, am I glad that I did sign up for the Masterclass? You bet! I have already made a start on my 100,000 technique challenge this morning. I have taken the skin off my knuckles and my right arm and shoulder are definitely feeling like they’ve had a good workout, but I am going to carry on. I am trying to ignore all the what ifs and buts that my mind keeps bringing up every now and again. I can’t wait til next month!

Sarah Wilson x

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Get up eight?

My friend Al Peasland ( recently pointed out that a Japanese saying, which I had cherished for ages as a source of wise assurance, was essentially flawed.

“Knocked down seven times – get up eight” sustained me through some sparring sessions that I thought were pretty heavy at the time. It kept me going back to training, when I really wanted to get the hell out, in much the same way (with the benefit of hindsight) as the western clichés about not being a quitter had previously kept me in relationships that weren't working and jobs I hated.

Many times I felt grateful to the saying about getting up again – surely it was important to keep pursuing my training goals to the very end, no matter what the hardships on the way might be.

But - without being a quitter I'd still be chain smoking a constant stream of hand rolled cigarettes, and drinking whiskey on my own when everyone else has gone to bed. And worse...

If you get knocked down seven times you only need to get up again seven times, right? (Thanks,Al) Or is the eighth time simply you falling down by your own efforts? Again.

That's how it was for me.

For me the eighth time was always about doing the wrong thing at the wrong time – usually for the right sort of reason, but still, the wrong thing, for me. At that time.

Have a think about that one.

The jobs weren't necessarily bad ones, my partners in the poor relationships weren't intrinsically bad people, and neither did I have to view myself as a bad person when things didn't work out. I just thought all those things because I didn't know how not to.

Similarly, the style I was flogging a dead horse in is an excellent one, and the dojo is filled with lovely instructors who are dedicated to their art.. It just wasn't for me. And I felt awful that it wasn't, but didn't know what to do about it. And got very very frustrated and upset.

It was just another thing added to the swirling mess of racing thoughts which kept me awake at night. The ones that arrived moments after putting my head on the pillow, making sleep impossible, no matter how tired I was.

One silly little thought would lead to another slightly bigger one, and so on, and before I knew it I would find myself overwhelmed by a storm of things that needed doing – a storm so large it had no beginning and no end, and certainly had no discernible way of taking action on it.

The answer? In the end it was very simple. Make a list.

I made a list of all the things that were troubling me. All the outstanding jobs, bills that needed paying, letters that needed writing, vehicles that needed work, articles or stories that were clamouring to be put together rather than sit in my head poisoning me. There were vet appointments to be made, clients to ring, lifestyle changes to be introduced. Ideas for projects to be got off the ground, favours to be returned, new customers to be marketed to, jobs to be applied for, weight to be lost, new habits to be formed. Or old ones to be broken.

Sound familiar? I hope not. But I bet it does.

When I made the first list, later transferring it to a succession of tiny notebooks that are easy to carry safely everywhere I go, I began making a contract with myself, which removed those things that needed doing from my over-busy mind and put them somewhere I can refer to, and, more importantly, do something about; freeing up my mind for more enjoyable thinking. Or no thinking at all. It's up to me now.

Make a list. Do the easy stuff first. Carry the list everywhere and add to it the instant you think of something, even if you are in bed in the dark trying to sleep. Especially if you are in bed in the dark trying to sleep. That way it's not lingering in your mind as a nagging worry. Do the easy stuff for a while, without thought of the big-ticket items, and something magical begins to happen. You grow bigger muscles for dealing with the things you've been hiding from, and you begin to relish the challenges.

Do it incrementally, like learning to drive. You don't go out on the motorway on your first driving lesson. For most of us getting off the driveway is too much at first, but lesson by lesson we get to the point where driving becomes automatic and we can't imagine it ever having been hard.

Practice is all it takes. Put some practical stuff in place, by reading Geoff Thompson, or Jim Lawless, for instance, or about meditation techniques, or by studying your religion a little more closely; and then just practice being whatever it is you want to be.

Don't flog dead horses, and don't expect the same old routines to take you somewhere different. These days I train in environments that are not so different really, to the one I moved on from, I just fit in better is all. No one's fault, it's just the way it is, and it was only a fluke that led to me moving on. I'm not still in my first job, or living with my first girlfriend either, and that's okay too. For everyone.

Learn to trust your own instincts again - and don't worry about getting up more times than you are knocked down ;-) because (and this I promise you) a life that is well lived and free from crippling, but pointless and avoidable worry makes you much harder to knock down in the first place.

Especially when the knocking down is being done by yourself.


Copyright © 2011 - all rights reserved. Happy to share, though, just ask

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Nothing special?

It's been said before. It's worth saying again:

You think it's down to luck you made it this far? That it's nothing special to be you, right here and right now?

You are the current manifestation of a truly massively successful bloodline, which stretches all the way back to, and far beyond, the first creatures who thought how nice it might be to get out of the water and sunbathe while gazing at the clouds as they drift across the sky.

Can you even begin to imagine the odds against you being here? Having evolved all the way from one of the original clusters of nucleic acids, perhaps a billion years ago, when species without number, never mind individuals, have fallen by the wayside.

Through countless generations your bloodline has survived famine, flood, war, drought, plague,

(and relegation from the premier league ;-))

And history is paved with the carcasses of those who failed to realise just how fraught with danger every single moment can be for something as fragile as our human body is when compared with the hard, sharp objects stacked up around it.

Call it luck, call it god, call it fate or coincidence; an accumulator placed on your genetic behalf, right back at the beginning, would require a pretty big wheelbarrow to collect on now - in fact you'd probably put the broke into Ladbrokes.

You are already successful on a cosmic scale - far beyond measure.

So what are you waiting for?

Give yourself a pat on the back. And make it a big one.

Stu Williams

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

12 Week Unite Lifestyle and Fitness Programme

As part of what is on offer from Unite Tae Kwon Do & Fitness we have put together a 12 week programme designed to ensure that clients lose fat, improve their fitness and overhaul their lifestyle. The programme includes: 

  • 3 Personal Training sessions per week with Kai, our REPS registered, Advanced Personal Trainer.
  • Nutrition advice
  • A personalised exercise programme for clients to complete independently
  • 3 sessions with a Life Coach

Our first client to start the programme is Vikki. You can follow her progress on her own blog:

She will be keeping a food and exercise diary for each day of the programme and recording how she feels about her progress. We're sure she'd appreciate any words of support and encouragement. Good luck Vikki! We know you can do it!