ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Stuart Anslow and I am the Chief Instructor
of Rayners Lane Taekwon-do Academy.
I am a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-do and I have been training in Taekwon-do for
almost two decades and have been into the martial arts since my school days.
My leaning into the martial arts started back in school when I was fifteen. A sudden boom in kung fu & ninja flicks aroused my curiosity, the same as it did in the Bruce Lee boom of the seventies, but it was more than just the super fast kicks, or the single guy (the hero) taking on and taking out five other guys (the baddies) or the amazing feats that interested me, more so it was the honour and the indomitable spirit of a warrior that appeal to me.
And so my journey began, I travelled to London, in search of the infamous Austin Goh a renowned Wing Chun teacher, known as the iron man, for his ability to receive punishment to his body.
Unfortunately I was gazumped on my first road, as the cost of lessons and the train fare was well beyond my means at that time, as were the times of the lessons, I worked out that I'd be arriving home about twelve o'clock at night. Not good when you have to get up for school the next day !
So I looked in different places a bit closer to home. At my school I found another lad about to take the same journey as I (or to speak in English, he was interested in martial arts as well). It turned out that his cousin was a practising Kung Fu man. So every week, me and my friend would learn a few moves off his cousin. This I found enjoyable and it continued for just over a year, until the time we left school and went out separate ways.
I went onto college and enrolled in a weekly judo class, as part of a physical education course. At the same time I also enrolled in a fencing class. As I was never a great footballer or a great tennis player, these options took my fancy more.
At my first judo lesson, about fifteen people turned up and we learnt the basics, how to fall and a few holds etc. On the second lesson I was the only one to turn up, why that was is still a mystery to me. Because of the lack of support the judo instructor was quite put out and decided to cancel the lesson that day, hoping that the next lesson more would arrive.
At the next lesson, again I was the only one to arrive. This time though the instructor decided that because I was bothered and persevered he would teach me, one on one.
So I began to learn judo, the reality of grappling with a black belt didn't appeal to me that much, but I started to get the hang of it and was told in three months I had learnt what a normal student would learn in a year (about four grades worth).I got fed up with college and left, so I had to give up judo.
For the next few years I practised what I knew at home and kept saying that "I gotta join a proper club one day". I kept saying this for years. It seems strange that for a guy in love with the martial arts that it should have been such a hard decision, but the thought of starting from scratch, when I knew (or thought I knew) quite a bit really put me off.
Eventually I made up my mind and went in search of a new club. I decided on Taekwon-do because (for me at the time) Karate semed to rigid and Kung Fu seemed to flowy, Taekwon-do seemed the best middle ground. After looking around at a few Taekwon-do clubs I found one tucked away in a church hall, so I watched a lesson and decided to join. My instructors were Mr David Bryan, 5th degree & Mr John Pepper, 2nd degree.
What made me join was that I had looked at a few other clubs and found they either ignored the beginners, one club left them at the back kicking a pad (wrongly) the whole lesson, or the standard of the senior belts was low compared to this club.
Anyway, I was impressed by the non commercialism and down to earth attitude of the instructors and the ability of the senior grades. So I joined up, trained hard, took my beatings and now I'm a 3rd Degree black belt.
It took me four years to gain my black belt. This is relatively short, but I trained hard, up to five or six days a week sometimes.
Over the years, as a coloured belt, when my interest in competition was reasonably high (I've never been really in to it that much) even so, I've won my fair share of trophies. I entered my first competition at green belt level & won nothing, then I entered my second competition at green belt & won the gold medal, from there on I won a fair few, but now as I grow older my interest leans a lot more to the self defence side of the arts. I still enter competitions now & then, but purely as a test to myself, as winning & losing are not important, though (too) many believe other wise.
My interest now stems towards practical self defence & I especially enjoy practising self defence techniques against an opponent armed with a knife (its only rubber, just in case). To me this is what training is all about. Utilising what you learn in the club, to be of use against what you may come up across in the streets, because its a dangerous world out there.
The style I teach is ITF Taekwon-do and although this is my base art many martial arts fascinate me, so I cross train in other styles every now and then, exchanging techniques and ideas with like minded martial artists. Apart from my style of Taekwon-do, I've trained a bit in Judo (at college), Shotokan karate with my training partner for over 4 years, Ju Jitsu, attending seminars & gaining certificates, and Kung Fu (in my school days), but Taekwon-do is the only art I've graded in, which doesn't really matter as its what lies behind the belt that counts. And its very easy once you been training for a while to implement other techniques & ideas into your own style from other arts & people.
Knowledge is after all our greatest weapon.
In May 1999 I unfortunately had to leave the organisation that graded up to 2nd degree under in order to open the Academy in Rayners Lane (I took my 3rd degree in 2000 and achieved 4th degree in 2005 - which is my present rank).
Without going into to much detail I left because of a 'conflict of interests' on my part and a difference of opinion about the location of my school. This was also the same time I set up the Academy (well a little after actually). Most black belts have witnessed the petty politics that plague taekwon-do (in all associations and all styles of martial arts), I tried to avoid them, but they sort of got me in the end. I decided rather than being a big fish in a small pond, I'd rather be a small fish in the ocean, and that was that.
Personally, reasons aside, it was a difficult decision to make as I had been in that association for many years & have a lot of respect for senior members & made a lot of friends along the way. I had a good competitive career, which I enjoyed immensely, even to the point of a possible selection to compete in Argentina at the ITF World Championships (although I'll never know now). But I had to do what was right & that path led me to leave & establish my own Academy. I have also written for various martial arts magazines.
One of my main ambitions when I started my Academy was to prove to my piers that I could be a good instructor as well as a good competitor, with my own students cleaning up at competitions. The fact that my students were denied the chanced to shine next to my friends, instructors and peers within my old association is my main regret, but thanks to the support I have received from plenty of people, they will shine in their own way and light up the ocean in which I (and they) now travel.
True gold does not fear the test of fire
Its funny how things turn out, going solo (although I am associated with other groups) was a
scarey experience but it was a great decision. On a personal level I am able to teach the art
in the way that I feel it should be taught. That is not my personal interpretation of the art,
although that obviously plays a part in it, but the way it was originally percieved, as a military
art and not as a sport (although I enjoy the sporting aspects as well, I just don`t place a major
emphasis on it). I have met many great martial artists and I competed at a World
Championship (and won a gold & silver medal there), in 2003 I layed the first stone for the
International Alliance Of Martial Art Schools (through which already I have met and trained
with many great martial artists from around the world. In 2003 I was also inducted into the
Combat Magazine 'Hall Of Fame' which was an honour for me.
Click here for other medals & achievements!
In 2006 I released a book relating to Taekwondo called Ch'ang Hon Taekwon-do Hae Sul
which has received praise and recognition on a world wide level. An in 2010 I release a futher 3
books titled The Encyclopedia Of Taekwon-Do Patterns: The Complete Patterns
Resource For Ch’ang Hon, ITF & GTF Students Of Taekwon-Do Vols 1, 2 & 3. And in 2012 I
released the 2nd volume of Ch'ang Hon Taekwon-do Hae Sul.
It is my opinion that martial arts should be available to everyone & all students should be able
to develop according to their own attributes and be capable in all areas of the art, be that the
mental & physical & perhaps spiritual as well.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
"If someone asked me what a human being ought to devote
the maximum of his time to, I would answer, Training.
Train more than you sleep"
- Masutatsu Oyama