Arriving in Southampton in 1978, Too Meng Ken (MPhil Mathematics, 1985) from Singapore, a black belt in taekwondo, practised by himself in the University’s judo room as there were no taekwondo clubs in the south outside of London. He inspired interest among others who wished to learn from him, and soon had a group training regularly.
In 1979, they established taekwondo as a recognised Athletic Union club at the University, with a membership of 76 in 1980 – including Master Graham Jones, who started at the club as a white belt, and is now seventh dan (an extremely high grade in taekwondo). Meng Ken’s reputation as an inspirational instructor soon spread. So many from outside of the University were keen to sign up that he was persuaded to open a club in the city, with many other clubs in Hampshire and Dorset following. Now nearly all towns and suburbs in the area have a taekwondo club, most of which could trace back links to Meng Ken’s clubs.
Master Jones, pictured at the special training session in the gold poomsae dobok (a taekwondo uniform), continues to train and inspire others. The club, as a pioneer in the British Student Taekwondo Federation (BSTF) – as well as Master Jones himself – has a strong history in supporting and developing university student taekwondo. SUTKD has won the BSTF National Championships on several occasions, most recently six years in a row between 2010 and 2015.
Following the special training session and to mark the club’s 40th anniversary, a few congratulatory words were said, and Master Jones cut a cake alongside current Chief Instructor of SUTKD, Master Cliff Lee. In addition, TCGB President Grandmaster Mark Biddlecombe presented Master Jones with his seventh dan Chungdokwan certificate and plaque. Attendees had the opportunity to catch up with old friends over a drink and some cake. Many brought along a range of memorabilia – such as photos, trophies and newspaper articles – to reminisce about the club’s history and their time training with it.
Thank you to all of you who came to support the event and all those of you who have contributed to the success and longevity of the club over the years. Currently, the club instructors are all alumni of the University who volunteer their time – a testament to the sense of community and spirit developed at the club. Here’s to another 40 years of taekwondo at SUTKD.
Written by SUTKD Instructor and alumnus David Honey (MSci Marine Biology, 2008; PhD Ocean and Earth Science, 2013)