Spirit Taekwondo pty ltd     ACN: 601 211 661     3/13 Dale St, Brookvale, Sydney, NSW, 2100, Australia

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From competitive dancer to black belt in multiple martial arts doesn’t sound like the likeliest of stories, but that’s how Spirit’s co-founder Anne Marie Smith’s Taekwondo journey began.

When her family moved from Scotland to London when Anne Marie was around 11 years old, she struggled to find a new dance club that was similar to what she had known and participated in the competition circuit. In her search for something else, Anne Marie’s mother suggested she join her at a Taekwondo class she had recently started, that was it. Anne Marie was hooked and hasn’t looked back since.

At that club, Anne Marie first met Jason and their club competed at many competitions through the 1990s across the UK and internationally. Upon moving to Sydney in 1999, Anne Marie and Jason worked with Taekwondo teams from around the world at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000.

In 2001, Anne Marie and Jason founded Spirit Taekwondo, and have dedicated themselves to helping students grow ever since. It’s this student growth, rather than personal competitive success, that Anne Marie now sees as her proudest moment in Taekwondo, particularly the moment of training a female student to black belt for the first time. This student, Melinda Tan, came to Spirit as a young teenager, ultimately reaching black belt and going on to mentor other students.

“It was such a proud moment for me as a teacher,” says Anne Marie, “especially when I reflect on my own experiences of often being the only female in the 1980s, and the challenges that presented both emotionally and physically. I had to persevere so much to keep up, and without the same killer instinct, had to focus more on technique to be able to keep up. Now I look around and seeso many successful women in martial arts – go GIRLS!”

As an instructor and teacher, Anne Marie focuses on each student with a holistic approach, teaching to the student’s ability and helping them grow, both as a martial artist and as a person. “A measure ofa teacher is finding a way to elevate a student that is not naturally talented and finding a way for them to achieve their goal,” says Anne Marie. “For example, I recall having a young female student who was extremely nervous with low self-esteem. I could see that aspects of training were confronting for her, and tapped into my own experience as a young female student. She needs a gentle, nurturing approach, and I love seeing her gain confidence and grow to be stronger, now mentoring other students.”

It is this holistic approach to an individual and their personal growth that Anne Marie sees as one of the biggest misconceptions about Taekwondo. People believe that it is violent or aggressive, but Anne Marie believes it is more about being a better person with good values, having the ability to protect themselves and to cultivate a peaceful warrior mindset. “Life will always bring its ups and downs and stressful situations. A student of martial arts is learning how to stay calm and navigate those moments,” says Anne Marie.

As well as her achievements in Taekwondo, Anne Marie also has black belts in both Hapkido and Kumdo, as well as study in other martial arts including Wing Chung, Thai boxing, Jujitsu and Systema. Anne Marie is also the founder of Spirit Kumdo, sharing her love of this sword-based martial art with students since 2009.

Away from the dojang, Anne Marie loves arts and crafts, music, movies and travel. Her love for theatre was so strong, it nearly turned into a career, but she followed her passion for martial arts instead. But she did get a bit of both worlds, with her Taekwondo demo team in the UK taking part in productions of Aladdin, Muppets Christmas Carol, and Streetfighter vs Soul Blade. Pretty cool, hey?


Spirit Taekwondo pty ltd     ACN: 601 211 661     3/13 Dale St, Brookvale, Sydney, NSW, 2100, Australia

Spirit Taekwondo pty ltd

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