TKD celebrates - Article from the Vol. 6. No. 4. issue of Irish Fighter
FACING INTO the New Millennium, the Stillorgan Taekwon-Do School, Dublin, recently celebrated its 5th birthday and looks firmly on course for a very successful and prosperous 2000. The club was founded by 5th dan Republic Of Ireland Taekwon-Do Association (RITA) black belt Robert Howard Junior and Fiona Lyng, a 2nd dan, in 1994. This was in response to the shortage of International Tae Kwon Do Federation (ITF) schools on the south east of Dublin.
"The RITA was getting a large amount of queries from people in that area who wanted to train in the Korean art," Howard said. "While some were complete beginners, others had trained with different Tae Kwon Do groups and seemed to be unhappy with their approach. The RITA always gives us a more rounded approach to the martial art combining General Choi's moral philosophy, actual self defence and tournament training," he added.
The Stillorgan club started off well and began to grow at a steady pace but unfortunately it lost one of its instructors when Lyng took up a job opportunity in England. With only one black belt instructor Howard found it increasingly difficult to maintain the growth of the school. So in 1997 he contacted the RITA head office asking for assistance in locating a second instructor for the Stillorgan club.
"I was looking for someone who was good technically and who would also be a good example to the students. The last thing you want is a Tae Kwon-Do teacher who is not committed or who misuses the art," Howard said. Fortunately for the school, 4th dan Floyd Keane - Howard's former team mate from the ITF World Championships in Malaysia - volunteered to take the co-instructor's post. "I found the ideal fellow teacher in Mr. Keane. I've known him for a long time and he's very impressive. He has injected new life into the school," Howard added.
In 1998 Lyng returned to Dublin. While living in England she had kept up her training and teaching with the United Kingdom Tae Kwon-Do Association (UKTA), the ITF's representative body there. During her time living in England she had many opportunities to train with Grandmaster Ki Ha Rhee, the founder of the art in both Ireland and Britain. "That's one of the great things about being a member of the ITF family - you get to train with real world experts," Lyng said. Some time after her return to the Stillorgan club, Howard decided to hand the school over completely to her and Keane. "I knew it was in good hands and at the time I wanted to open a new school in Athlone and introduce ITF to the Midlands," he explained.
Under the partnership of Lyng and Keane the club really took off. There is a real buzz in the hall and a great school spirit is always present. The club's membership doubled during last year's RITA National Beginners Week. Lyng has great praise for the RITA: "We receive great support from the Association, everything from posters, marketing, and instructor support are provided."
Some of the Stillorgan students competed against their international counterparts at last year's UK Tae Kwon-Do Open in Cardiff, Wales. The school did very well with Jonathan Lyons, David Lanigan and Stephen O'Donnell winning medals and club instructor Keane clinching the 'Overall Black Belt Champion' title. Under club instructors, and dedication member such as John Byrne, Richard Barber and Sorcha Ennis - who were all there on the very first night - the Stillorgan Club will only go from strength to strength.
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