A seminar in the Sunshine Coast of Australia was hosted by RTR Taekwon-Do held at:

Matthew Flinders Anglican College
Stringybark Road, Buderim (Sports Centre)
Queensland, Australia

See report below and Photos here

Kicking It Up In The Sun : Masters Seminar, Sunshine Coast

What an awesome weekend it was for those who attended the 'Masters Downunder' seminar held at the Sunshine Coast, May 14th and 15th 2005. This was the third installment of the 'ITF Masters Downunder' seminars, with the last seminar for 2005 being held in Whangarei, New Zealand at the beginning of October.

As soon as we arrived in the morning the atmosphere was alive with anticipation and the excitement on everyones' face was hard to ignore, despite the early morning grumps. We began the first day with Master McPhail, working through a few coloured belt patterns, before moving on to jumping and flying with Master Davidson. After lunch, Master Davidson worked through some basic self defense skills, before Master Daher introduced us to 'Traditional Sparring'. We finished up with a brief question and answer session with the Masters.

The second day began with a couple of quick photos, and a warm up with Master McPhail before we split into our three groups, junior coloured belts, senior coloured belts and black belts. The groups then rotated between Masters to give everybody a chance to recieve instruction based on their skill level. We were visited both days by media crews, and had the pleasure of watching the Masters perform a more than impressive demonstration. At the end of the seminar time was given for questions with the Masters, as well as oppertunities for photos and autographs.

Patterns with Master McPhail began with an emphasis on five of the training secrets of
i) To create a sine wave during the movement by utilizing the knee spring properly.
ii) All movements must begin with a backwards motion with very few exceptions.
iii) Keep both the arms and legs bent slightly while the movement is in motion.
iv) To exhale briefly at the moment of each blow excepting a connecting motion.
v) To bring the movement of eyes, hands, feet and breath into a single coordinated action.
which we then put into practice, focusing on one of the above points while performing a few coloured belt patterns.

We then moved on to jumping and flying with Master Davidson, looking at a few of the factors which affect height and distance when performing these techniques. We practiced in groups of three, beginning with jumping up on the spot, trying to lift our knees up to our chest, and moving onto jumping side kick, where we jumped over one person crouching on the floor while executing the technique. We worked on several exercises to improve our maximum jumping height and finished off with a jumping knife-hand strike.

After lunch we began the first session of real self defence with Master Davidson, who focused more on self defense that could be applied in real situations. We began work in partners, with one person pretending to attack their partner from behind, while their partner responded with a back kick. After this we moved onto a simple blocking technique which utilises the bodies natural rhythm, and gradually built up to a counter attack. Master Davidson explained that when people react to an attack, their heart begins to beat faster and adreniline is released into their system, and they usually either freeze or fight. The techniques we focused on were those which would be practical to use in a real situation, rather than what would be considered traditional self defense.

During the last session of the day, Master Daher introduced us to 'Traditional Sparring'. Traditional sparring differs from free sparring in that it is made up of a set pattern of techniques which two or more people execute with realism, similar to the fighting sequences seen in modern films and television programs. We began learning a set of actions arranged by Master Daher which were taken from coloured belt patterns. We began with the movements from Chon-Ji pattern, and followed with sets of movements taken from Dan-Gun and Do-San patterns. After quite a bit of practicing Master Daher held a 'competition' to see who could perform the sequence, and we all found out that traditional sparring is a lot harder than it looks! Congratualtions to Gerard Kelly and partner for taking out the Gold.

Master Daher also worked on free sparring drills used at International levels. The key word here- flexibility. The drills we used were based on sparring at close range, where other techniques such as a turning or side kick would be ineffective, and to be able to use these drills flexibility is a necessity. Master Daher guided us through a set of stretches which would help to increase flexibility, and explained the importance of spending a little bit of time each day working on stretches, even if it is only ten or fifteen minutes a day.

We were able to see first-hand the result of a strict flexibility program during the demonstration performed by the Masters mid-morning both days, when Master Daher performed his signature technique, the flying twisting kick. Master McPhail gave a demonstration of his power breaking skills, breaking through as many boards as could be held for him with a flying back kick, and Master Davidson impressed us all with his self defense against a knife attack. This kind publicity is instrumental in the success and growth of the organisation, and for the promotion of Taekwon-Do.

Overall, I believe that the seminar was a fantastic mix of the various aspects of Taekwon-Do, and what made it most enjoyable was the range of students, from white belt to fourth degree black belt and above, as well as the general attitude expressed by all who attended. Master McPhail said that if you are able to take just one thing away with you from a training session, then it was a good session, and there is no doubt in my mind that those who attended the weekend found it a complete success.