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

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Can you imagine a fifth dan Taekwondo black belt being bullied? It’s hard to see it now, but as a 10 year old who had recently moved to a new area of London, this is what was happening to Jason Smith.

Jason tried to hide how bad things were from his parents, not wanting to add to the pressures that come with moving to a new area, but did tell his older brother about the bullying, who tried to motivate Jason to stick up for himself. “But I was so scared, and didn’t really know where to start,” recalls Jason.

Things changed when his brothersat Jason down to watch the Bruce Lee classic, Enter the Dragon. “My dad saw how inspired I was and started bringing home two kung fu movies each week for us to watch.” Jason would run around the house, kicking and chopping, and then the real change happened – a friend of his brother started martial arts and invited him along.

“I remember my brother’s eyes alight when he came home. He told me it wasn’t for kids though,” says Jason. But after three weeks of relentless nagging, Jason’s mum insisted that he be allowed to go. “I had no idea what martial art it was, and to be honest, it wouldn’t have mattered. I was so inspired by the training and the challenges that those instructors in the church hall dojang gave to me.”

Over time, as Jason’s confidence and self-esteem from training grew, the bullying faded away. But his love for martial arts only grew, especially once he started competing. During the 1990s, Jason regularly competed on the UK Taekwondo circuit, achieving several national titles, representing Britain at the 1995 Chung do Kwan world championships and qualifying for the 1999 WTF world championships.

There were blips in the road, however. Likemany students, Jason experienced frustration with his progress when he was around 15 years old. He’d not long received his green stripe belt and “I felt like the brakes went on, with everything getting much harder.” Jason then failed his next grading for green belt and quit soon after.

However, his brother continued, as did his friends, and a few weeks later, Jason was invited to a training session at the park. Realising how much he loved it, Jason returned to Taekwondo with a newfound enthusiasm. It is this experience that made him realise how much having role models, in his case his brother, on how to continue when things get hard is so important. “Just being able to see how to pick yourself up is more powerful than just words. That’s why I encourage parents to do the same and train alongside your children, becoming part of their journey.”

Moving to Australia with Anne Marie in 1999, the couple continued to train and assisted in the development ofAustralian national team members, including Carly Reasbeck for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, before founding Spirit Taekwondo in 2001.

“Helping students to discover their potential, and then take those lessons outside of the dojang into the world is one of the most rewarding aspects of being an instructor,” says Jason.

Learning to adjust the training to the student has also been a key part of Jason’s journey, a shift that began when his eldest son, Jayden, was diagnosed with autism at a young age. “One of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve learned was to see the world through his own eyes and not my own. It also meant I had to let go of how I thought thingsshould be taught or done, and instead find the way that he was able to. This led to a big change for Spirit’s culture and our teaching methodology.”

Jason’s own health challenges have also contributed to his approach to his martial arts practice, both as an individual and a teacher. In 2010, he was diagnosed with inter-cranial high pressure which crippled him with blindness and headaches, before surgery in 2013 to be fitted with a shunt to reduce the impact.

It is this belief that martial arts truly is a lifelong practice, not just a sport, that Jason feels is one of the biggest misconceptions. “Especially since Taekwondo attained Olympic status, many people overlook its true value as a martial art and the principles that cultivate the practitioner,” he says.

As anyone who’s admired the posters for Spirit events like Ultimatum might have guessed, Jason is also a lover of good design,something he spent many years at college and university studying. As well studying design, Jason also worked for the BBC and MTV during the 1990s!

When he’s not in the dojang, Jason loves practicing his board sports, with a particular love for skateboarding and snowboarding.


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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