In what year did you start practicing a Martial Art and what inspired you?
I started practicing martial arts properly at college when I did Judo (around 88 or 89) although I was into the arts a bit before then. I was into martial arts long before that though. At school myself & a friend used to practice kung fu (Wing Chun) with my friends cousin round his house. I was inspired to the martial arts not by Bruce Lee movies like many (although Fist Of Fury has always been my favourite), but by the Samurai films. The spirit of the samurai, their sense of honour, Integrity & justice appealed to me. I started Taekwon-do properly at the beginning of 1991 under Mr David Bryan & Mr John Pepper. I took my first grading 4 weeks after I started.
When did you start taking part in competitions?
October 1991, when I was a green belt because John Pepper kept bugging me to compete since I was a white belt. I still remember that day, I had flu & it was the British Championships, I was knackered in about 30 seconds. I lost my first fight unfortunately, but made up for it in the next competition that followed by scooping the gold.
What attributes, in your opinion, would you say makes an individual an expert at this art?
True Integrity, the ability to remain a student & question yourself & abilities & look for answers to the things you question instead of following blindly. And to keep training, learning & understanding.
In your opinion who are the best Tae Kwon Do exponents?
In this country I'd have to say technically Miss Tham Ying Au, Mr Tony Sewell and Mr James Hogan. But there are many others who are great exponents of the art that I have seen over the years, like Kenny Walton, Mark Hutton, Dave Sheppard & Kim Stones. Worldwide I'd have to say Grandmaster Hee Il Cho, Master Park Jung Tae, Grandmaster Rhee Ki Ha & Master Willy Lim. I admire many from other arts as well, there's so many exceptional people, UK wise I have great respect for Alfie Lewis, Terry O`Neil, Neville Wray Joe Tierney & Peter O`Para, all for varying reasons.
Have you ever competed abroad and if yes, what countries?
Never could afford it I'm afraid. The furthest I've got was Dublin for the World Championships.
Recently you competed at the Open World Championships hosted by AIMAA [Hee Il Cho) - tell me about that experience?
It was an eye opener. 2000 competitors so I'm told, many different styles, so many categories. It was a fantastic experience for both my students & myself. The AIMAA did a pretty good job with regards to organisation, I must thank Mr Phillip Fox for his help when I was making arrangements for this championships. It was nice to meet so many like minded people, all of whom were friendly, there was no animosity there considering the amount of competitors from different countries & different organisations & it was a great experience fighting people from all round the world.
What is your most favourite memory before/after or during competition?
My favourite memory was when I fought Paul Ford & we were fighting a final over two rounds, we were both knackered & we drew and had to fight an extra round, but we drew again, again we fought an extra round & drew once more, the referee didn't want to make the decision so we fought again & Paul finally pipped me to that gold. I got my revenge though. It's a great memory because it was such a tough fight. My many fights with Alan Lui & Hajinder Sidhu also hold great memories.
What was your most embarrassing moment during competition?
Well its not so much embarrassing for me but it was funny. I was in Oxford competing in an Open Tournament with my good friends John O`Conner & Derrick Clarke & I was fighting this freestyle fighter & I side kicked him mid section & as he reeled back his bottoms fell down to his ankles. Afterwards we kept cracking up about that. It was very funny for us but not so much for him.
What are your views on the recent televised Olympic Tae Kwon Do exponent's display?
I didn't see it I'm afraid.
Where do you see Tae Kwon Do in the next 10 years?
On the downside it will be more fragmented than now (if that's possible), with more trumped up grades etc. which only looses respect for the art. On the plus side I think individual instructors will do as I have done & search for the Taekwon-do as it was originally perceived, as a military art for self defence, rather than a martial sport which it has now become for many.
What is your favourite Martial Arts movies, if any?
I'd have to say `Best Of The Best` because it shows the spirit of the martial arts.
What would you say are the benefits of studying Tae Kwon Do?
It instils self confidence in students that over flows into all areas of their lives, this is the main benefit. Other benefits are as the tenets say, although I feel for some these are just empty words spoken at the beginning & end of each lesson.
As a III Dan Instructor at Rayners Lane what inspired you to start your own classes?
I just felt the time was right. I had been assisting my instructor for a number of years & there were things I wanted to teach & do that I couldn't of unless I opened my own dojang.
What are the qualities that you feel a good Instructor must own?
The qualities that make a good instructor are patience, understanding that all students are different & are ready for different things at different times. Also a good understanding of yourself & the art that you teach, and the reasons that you teach it !
Please list your competition background including dates and results
Please provide an outline on your background history in Martial Arts.
I first got into martial arts whilst at school. I started practicing Kung Fu with a friend & his cousin, although not to any great degree of skill. At college I was doing Physical Education & part of the course involved studying activities at the local leisure centre. I choose fencing & Judo. The first lesson of the judo class was attended by about 20 people. By the 3rd lesson I was the only one attending & for the next few months I trained one on one with the instructor & covered a lot more in that time span because of this. I thought at the time the instructor wouldn't be bothered with only one student turning up to his class, but all credit to him that he would train one on one with a beginner every lesson without looking fed up with the whole thing, and training one on one with the nstructor was pretty tough & had a quick learning curve.
In 1991 I decided that it would be nice to actually get a grade in the martial arts. I began to look at which art I wanted to focus on & decided that Kung-Fu was too flowy for me & Karate was to rigid (that's how I saw it at the time, I have great respect for all arts) so decided on Taekwon-do as I saw it as `in between` the two. I looked at a few different classes but I liked what I saw at Mr Pepper & Mr Bryans class & have remained there ever since. I use to train weekly with a Shotokan black belt whom I knew, exchanging techniques & principles of our arts, often for three, four and occasionally five hours at a time. I also travelled around other clubs training as often as I could.
After a decade of learning I opened my own Academy that has been very successful in a short time span, last May celebrating our 1st year anniversary. Unfortunately I had to leave the association that I was a student under to do this, but in hindsight it wasn't a bad decision as I was afforded the opportunity to study my art deeper than before, meet a lot of very informative people and have opportunities that never came my way before. As a student I made many great friends through training & competition & since I started my own Academy I have made many new ones. Interestingly enough, one of these is an instructor by the name of Rhee who's father was training in`Tae Soo Do` before 1955 so has helped me understand the history of my art even more and from an unbiased point of view, which I feel is very important. We chat in great detail about the art, pattern interpretations, training methods & the views of the 1st generation ITF instructors who first spread the art around the globe. I have a great bunch of students who train really hard & personally still train as often as I can. Last year I took my 3rd degree under Master Juin Mahai (8th Dan, Ji Do Kwan), who is chief examiner for the `English Taekwon-do Schools`. I teach as an individual under the ETS/AMA and follow the original ITF syllabus, which includes locks, throws, vital points & pressure points that aren't often taught anymore (in Taekwon-do), plus other interesting & necessary training that is relevant to today's society.
INTERVIEW WITH STUART ANSLOW, 3RD DEGREE, INSTRUCTOR
For Fighters & Taekwon-do & Korean Martial Arts Magazines
by Clarye Bennett & Esmond Francis