The annual Leeds sparring course returned on February 20, 2016 and four brave TTA members, together with our club instructor, Mr. Bender, made the trek from London to Leeds for more than five hours of intense sparring drills under the direct instruction of Grandmaster Loh. The course was attended by TTA members from across the United Kingdom and included representatives from an impressive range of kup grades and dans, from 9th kup to 4th dan.
After the warm-up, Grandmaster Loh kicked the course off with a variety of partner stretching techniques followed by a series of checking kick drills against hoguls. Grandmaster Loh focused both on flexibility and balance and pushed us to remain on one leg as much as possible while performing checking kick combinations, including, at the end of the morning, three kick combinations of checking side kick followed by hook kick and turning kick, from one end of the room to the other, all without returning the lead kicking leg to the ground!
The course resumed after a short lunch break. Grandmaster Loh warmed us back up with some on-the-spot dynamic stretching and then we returned to our partners for further combination kick practice. The focus of this session was both the speed of the attack and the timing of the counter, with both the attack and counter including a combination of side, turning, back and reverse turning kicks. Interspersed throughout, Grandmaster Loh pulled out particular pairs to demonstrate both good technique and to point out common mistakes and also explained much of the theory behind good sparring.
After a short break for water, and thoroughly exhausted, we returned to the hall for the final session of the day. Following a warm-up of on-the-spot kicking drills, we met our partners again for combination kick practice, initially against kick shields and paddles and later against hoguls, and focusing on speed, accuracy and power. The final exercise of the day included speed side and turning kick drills against paddles. Afterwards, we had a group question and answer session during which Grandmaster Loh shared some of his insight into the theory of sparring, drawing from his impressive experience.
As the day drew to a close, we realised that we had spent the majority of the course standing on only one foot! Physically exhausted, we piled back into the cars and headed for London, excited about the techniques we had learned and memorising the drills and stretches that Grandmaster Loh had taught us to improve our taekwondo sparring. Thank you to Grandmaster Loh for his instruction and for sharing from his experience and thank you to TTA Leeds for organising another very successful course.