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‘Join a society - you have nothing to lose, but all to gain!’

Lucie Siebenaler, a third year Psychology with Cognitive Neuroscience student, is Treasurer of the Taekwondo Society and says joining the team has meant she’s learnt a new sport, made a bunch of friends and had loads of fun…

‘I first heard about the Taekwondo Society at the Welcome Fair in my first year when I spoke to the then President and Captain, NJ and Jan. I took the flyer they gave me and stuck it on my wall for about two months before finally deciding to go along to a session with my flatmate.

I was quite nervous beforehand, however I needn’t have worried. The coaches and team were very welcoming and they even retaught the basics to accommodate us, despite the fact they were training for a competition. I came home in my sweaty clothes with a huge smile on my face and a new-found passion.

For those that don’t know, taekwondo (also known as TKD) is a traditional Korean martial art, which predominantly involves kicking in many cool ways. The Poomsae (patterns) form of TKD is equally enticing as you can show off intricate sequences of punches and kicks. The Goldsmiths Taekwondo club trains Olympic style taekwondo as part of the World Taekwondo Federation so you can set your ambitions as high as winning a gold medal at the Olympics. And where better to start that journey than in sunny New Cross!

Before long, I was training with the club twice a week (every Monday and Wednesday) and have been doing so ever since! On Monday evenings, we train the fighting and contact side of taekwondo and on a Wednesday we focus more on the traditional and technical aspects of taekwondo - both are an equally intense workout. 

As a traditional martial art, there are several rules that must be applied. Nonetheless, these are pretty straightforward and they were explained thoroughly at my first training session. As for equipment, you can wear comfortable, stretchy clothes until you decide to commit. If you decide to move forward, you can buy your Dobokm which is a traditional white uniform with a white belt, directly from our coaches at a discounted price. You can then climb the ranks by completing gradings in which you can earn the next belt (10 gradings until you can reach a black belt). 

In my second year, I joined the Taekwondo committee as Treasurer. I’m now continuing in the same role in my third year. In this position I’m in charge of all the club's money. I have to ensure we have enough and that members are paying what they owe. 

Last year, we began to dedicate a lot of time and effort into organising social events, even if that meant going to the SU or another pub after a sweaty training session - and this has been lots of fun. We’ve also organised social events outside of Goldsmiths with the KCL taekwondo team (our south London rivals), which was a huge success. We were keen to make the club as social as possible and make the training sessions fun and inviting to everyone who might, understandably, be intimidated by the sport.

We usually take part in three competitions a year all run by the British Student Taekwondo Federation where all universities with taekwondo teams meet and fight. There is also a non-combat side of taekwondo called Poomsae (patterns in English) where you have to perform different sequences of movements with high accuracy and precision. In terms of competitions, I personally have competed only twice. The first time was very nerve wracking and scary but I gained a lot of experience from entering the ring. The second time, I managed to win third place after battling it out with various opponents from universities all across the UK. I was really chuffed! Unfortunately I was not able to compete in the third competition of the year (the ultimate National competition) due to an injury I sustained outside of TKD, but I would have loved to. The atmosphere in the arena during a competition is electric and you can be guaranteed not to return with a voice. Even if you’re not competing, attending one of these events is must do!

One of my favourite memories from taekwondo has to be from the last National competition in March this year (just before lockdown). After a long hard day of stacking medals, three guys from our team made it to the semi-finals in their category. The finals came around and the two Goldsmiths guys were battling it out to be Student National Champion. With all our team at the sidelines alternating our chants, the fight took a lot longer due to many comical kicks and falls. Amazingly, the small team we brought to the competition came home with a mighty 20 medals.

As cheesy as it sounds, the best bit about being on the team is the team. We have a wonderful relationship with our coaches - one of whom founded the club and is now part of the Aquila Taekwondo team which has helped produce some European and World level athletes. Our team mates make the sessions fun whilst pushing us to our max. And of course there’s nothing better than quenching our thirst together in the SU Bar after sweating buckets for the last two hours. On top of that, TKD is a beautiful sport and when you perfectly execute a spinning hook kick to the head you gain a sort of aura that is hard to beat! I would definitely encourage new students to join a society or club, even if it’s not taekwondo (although that is a great option!) I’ve made loads of friends through it, and actively look forward to training with them. You have nothing to lose, but all to gain!’ 

Fancy giving taekwondo a go? You can get in touch with the society here