Mr Chris Barrett 6th Dan

I first encountered TKD in 1969 just after leaving university, a work colleague dragged me along to an evening class at Watford Technical College. My first instructor was Patrick Wong and as far I remember he was a student at the college. We also used to train in London on a Sunday morning, first of all at an old church hall somewhere near Kensington – I remember our stances evolved to avoid the floorboard nails and splinters – later we trained at the Brunel University gym. Most of this is lost in the mist of time, but would love to hear from anybody who was there.

In 1972 I moved to Brighton to do a PGCE and did a few lessons at the university club. I think this might have been WTF style, but as I recall, my main reason for not pursuing it was because the lessons were on Saturday morning at 10am. (The crack of dawn if you were enjoying being a student again on a Friday night).

The gap in my training continued until about 1976 when I saw a TKD demonstration at Rushden Sports Centre in Northamptonshire and I thought it would be easier to do that to keep fit, rather than the tedious process of phoning to try and book a squash court every few days. So this was really the start of my continuous training in TKD, this time with instructor Paul Smith (1st Dan) in Murray Walker’s Premier Taekwondo Academy.

In 1979 I moved to Bristol to start a new job and found a TKD club run by Michael Dew at the nearby Kingsdown Sports Centre. Immediately I had many new friends with whom I have shared all the highs and lows of TKD up to the present day. Starting back at 6th Kup in the UKTA, with the friendship and encouragement of Master Dew, my fellow students, and my wife (who by now had also started training) I eventually made it to 1st Dan on the 25th September 1983. In those days it was not unusual not to make it through gradings under Master Rhee, when breaking was a requirement at coloured belt level. I even had to repeat the pilgrimage to the UKTA Headquarters in Glasgow to get my Black Belt at the second attempt.

By now I had moved to Hampshire for new employment and was training at Andover under Brian Lovejoy and also helping to teach. Having stayed with Master Dew to become a member of the TAGB, together with my wife, Elizabeth, we started Winchester Tae Kwon-Do in September 1986. I took my 2nd and 3rd Dan gradings under Master Hee Il Cho, and after failing my 3rd Dan became very determined to prove that I was worthy of my grade. I guess I must have done something OK because I was presented with the Black Belt Grading Award for my 4th Dan (1994) and also my 5th Dan (2003). Now that I am a 6th Dan, and have taken the Winchester club past its 25th birthday my hope is to continue to inspire and encourage our students as my seniors have done so for me.