Art manager

NHS project manager defends benefits of martial arts for health and wellbeing – FE News

A taekwondo instructor and NHS project manager is advocating the health and wellbeing benefits of martial arts for young people at school and in further education.

Gavin Reader, who has been a 2nd degree black belt and athletic trainer for two decades, has witnessed firsthand how the sport builds confidence, resilience, as well as physical and mental strength, in their students.

Ellianne from Fishponds Taekwondo Academy performing at the World Championships.
Ellianne from Fishponds Taekwondo Academy performing at the World Championships.

The father-of-three, who also worked as a paramedic for several years, said: “I’ve seen young people come to the club and, in a relatively short period of time, become much more confident in themselves.

“As a parent, I think this is a great way to help your child build resilience and self-esteem, while improving their health and well-being.”

The health benefits of taekwondo include improved balance, flexibility, endurance, strength, and posture. Psychologically, it is reported to help build confidence, self-esteem, and resilience.

Fishponds Taekwondo Academy, which trains twice a week at Lyde Green Community Center in Bristol, is offering free lessons for a month so students can see if it’s right for them.

Gavin and fellow instructor Simon Herrington started the martial art, which emphasizes fast kicking techniques and is also believed to promote physical and mental strength, seven and ten years ago respectively. They were encouraged to join when their young daughters signed up.


Simon, who reached the rank of 3n/a black belt in the Korean martial art, said, “We pride ourselves on being a family club and have many parents who train alongside their children.

“It is suitable for a wide range of people – from students working for world-class competitions to those who want to challenge themselves physically and mentally, while learning practical self-defense.”

Self-control and perseverance

Their team also won several medals at the World Championships held in the Netherlands. Four students have represented the British team in the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) competition.

They came back from Amsterdam with silver and bronze medals for models and fighting in the junior and adult categories.

Teenagers Millie and Cameron Bates, Ellianne Reader – who are all 1st degree black belts, and Joel Cassar, 20, 3rd degree black belt, competed in the championships.

Joël Cassar at the world championships

Simon, who was a senior project manager for 36 years, said: “We are very proud of our team who worked hard and performed well. It’s always nice to win medals, but it’s more important that they follow the tenets of taekwondo, which include courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and an indomitable spirit.

Gavin added: “It’s a pleasure to coach as they are dedicated, hardworking and driven to give their best. It was amazing to see their development, not just in the martial art, but in as inspiring young people.

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