IIC 128 (Dublin) Write Up
4.30pm – I should probably better start packing… Passport Check, Dobok Check, Belt Check, Euros Check
5.45pm – My adoptive parents for the weekend ‘Mr Ed Colman-Roberts and Miss Sam Abel’ (Lucky them!), pick me up for the first leg of our journey to Bristol Airport.
10.10pm – Take off and I’m given control of the NAMA Instagram page (brave man, bearing in mind I wasn’t allowed to carry my own Dobok or belt). During the flight I realise I am sat between two rather scared flyers. I’ve finally found their Achilles heel! Getting to the hotel at around midnight, it’s straight to bed ready for the early morning get up. Full of anticipation I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous.
8.45am start, and wow so many stripes, never have I ever seen that many Masters in one room! The four of us, Ed, Sam, Neville and myself, line up in our respective positions. First to start there was a general warm up and then Grand Master Marano starts the IIC. We go through the colour belt patterns, first in our own time and then afterwards two volunteers were picked to perform each movement one at a time. Each movement was taken apart and put back together again. The Grand Master took his time, first correcting stances (sat on the floor moving feet and legs into the right positions) moving his way up the body and finally to the block or strike. Though this was intense, comparable to the first time you sit in a university lecture theatre, it was extremely informative. I definitely felt like I needed two brains that morning, luckily phones, pens and paper were on hand to help.
After a quick break Grand Master Laquerre took a self-defence seminar. Comparable to a Master Black session, due to our heritage we thrived. The movements were easily applied and yet extremely effective. For someone who fully enjoys self-defence yet finds the coordination side rather difficult (my legs and arms never do what I want them to) I found for a change I could put these movements together so they were functional techniques.
Lunch time – Brain ache and very hungry – a caffeine and water refill and quick nap for ‘Grandma Penny’ were needed before restarting.
2pm – First degree patterns. All 3 Grand Masters: Marano, Laquerre and Lan walked around the hall whilst movements were performed in their time, correcting certain movements, hands, feet, body positions. Throughout, they were constantly smiling, outwardly happy that you were there to learn and attend. I began to relax and fully enjoy the experience. Next, similar to earlier a volunteer was chosen to perform the patterns and each movement was taken apart, applications and reasons for discussed and put back together. The amount of information to take in was exceptional. After a full day of concentration Ma’am Abel and I left to recuperate, meeting with Mr Bond and Mr Colman-Roberts at 6pm for dinner and a well-deserved drink or two. After this it was early to bed ready for round two in the morning.
Photo time! Though determined to hide at the back, the masters insisted that Sam and I were put at the front (dammit had better smile and work those cheek muscles, there goes the low profile).
At this point the 1st degrees were separated – bye bye Ed! Taken aside by one of the Irish Masters. We began to warm up. His warm up among other exercises consisted of going through patterns in fast and jumping motion. At this moment myself and Ma’am Abel looked at each other, our eyes saying…. ‘WE GOT THIS DOWN!’. Mr Colman- Roberts had unknowingly, with his “alternative” warm up routines, primed us for this exact exercise. Finishing a good 10seconds before most. Subsequently, the Master commented ‘Ahha you two have done this before – well done ladies’. From here we went from Chon Ji to the end of the 1st degree patterns highlighting and re-asserting what had been taught the day before.
Grand Master Lan took the next session with a question and answer session, covering aspects of Taekwondo History; reasons for certain numbers and history behind certain movements that linked to historical events in Korean history, that I had previously no knowledge of before. Everything was so intrinsically linked, one way or another, General Choi really had thought of everything! The depth of history involved was amazing. As a perpetual university student, constantly questioning why, I loved this!
Next session was stretching with Grand Master Laquerre. Ouch and phew are words I would use to describe this session. Though at the end feeling very relaxed, sleepy and light jellied legged, I defiantly felt that my flexibility was pushed. Ma’am Abel and I to combat this took to thinking about Baby Logan (Ma’ams 6month yr old son) to get us through.
After Lunch the 1st to 3rd degrees were taken by Grand Master Laquerre for further performance, questions and answers on patterns. The sponge that is my brain at this point was well and truly full.
The final Session ‘Sparring techniques’ was taken by Grand Master Lan. Started off with the idea that before you spar you should be in the mind-set that you are fighting for your family, your mother, father, children and country rather than for yourself. He was extremely, extremely quick and before his chosen opponent had kicked him he had already successfully back-kicked. The opponent must have had balls of steel by the end of the session. Quotes that stand out to me;
“Don’t think Fly”… ”Don’t look at you target, just do/feel”… “Remember you have ten eyes and ears not two”
This session brought back fond memories of lessons with Master Black. The stories and tangents that Grand Master Lan told were on par with Master Blacks. Even for someone who isn’t allowed to spar, I thoroughly enjoyed this session, the sparring drills and attempting to “fly”. Unfortunately, after this session it was the end of the IIC, after some final words by the Grand Masters and certification it was time to jump in a taxi and catch our plane home.
On a final note
I know I don’t just speak for myself but a massive thanks must be given to our Instructor and true friend Mr Colman-Roberts for his time and effort organising this experience for us. It has been exceptional and I look forward to going to next year’s IIC in Cardiff. I would highly recommend IIC to any PUMA black belts of any ability or age, competitors, instructors or students like me who generally just have an interest and want to improve.
Jess Penny 1st Degree Black Belt Proud member of NAMA