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Spearheaded and organised by Mr Adams, our Student Mental Health Lead, Key-Stage 4 students were offered an opportunity to attend a series of extra-curricular Taekwondo and Tai Chi sessions throughout the month of May, in a bid to introduce them to the many physical and emotional benefits to be gained from engagement with martial arts.

Instruction was kindly provided by Emelia May who is an ITF 4th Degree Black Belt, Infinite Tai Chi & Chi Kung teacher and the founder of The Wharfedale School of Martial Arts. Emelia volunteered her time and provided IGS students an hour’s weekly tuition for four weeks.

Students were introduced to the key tenets of Taekwondo and learnt basic class etiquette such as ‘Charyot’ (standing to attention) and ‘Kyong Ye’ (bowing to the instructor). Following warm-ups, the sessions then usually consisted of fun exercises aimed at improving balance, co-ordination, stamina and speed, before progressing onto basic stances, defensive techniques (blocks) and offensive techniques (punches). Progression was particularly speedy and, by the second week, students were already growing in confidence and becoming adept at executing front rising kicks (‘Ap Cha Olligi’), front snap kicks (Ap Cha Busigi’) and had even given ‘Saju Jirugi’; a four directional punch exercise, a go! Interspersed in all sessions were Miss May’s words of wisdom, where she introduced and explained to students the very many benefits to be gained from opening their minds to learning a martial art: self-discipline, self-control and self-defence, as well as increased focus and concentration which can give rise to a stronger sense of self and determination to achieve goals! 

But it wasn’t just all about Taekwondo! Miss May also took time to introduce students to the wonders of Tai Chi; a gentle form of mindful movement that can aid in improvement of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Class participants took to these sections of the sessions with great interest and executed the various chi-cultivation exercises with consciousness and commitment. Miss May took time to speak with almost hypnotic effect about the power to be gained by connecting with natural elements and how students can then use this power to sustain themselves during life’s ups and downs. And finally, how Chi cultivation can increase energy flow to transform blockage and create inner strength and harmony. As sessions concluded, participants veritably floated out of the training-space! 

Challenged, yet refreshed and re-charged with a calm inner confidence, they had enjoyed being pushed out of their comfort zones, making new friends and experiencing camaraderie. The students enjoyed learning new techniques that they could take-away and directly apply to improve their wellbeing.

IGS would very much like to thank Miss Emelia May for volunteering her time and expertise. We very much look forward to welcoming her back and working with her again in the future.

Emelia's door is always open to new members. Sessions run in Burley in Wharfedale, Otley and East Morton. Class times and contact details can be obtained via: 

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