Launchpad veterans train with Taekwon-Do champions

Launchpad Taekwon do group[1]

(L-R) Speke House residents and staff John Edwards, Steve Bresnahan, Franc Iacobucci, Gareth O’Neill and Lenny Stone with Japan’s multiple gold-medal winning world champion, Hwang Su-il.

Two former world and European Taekwon-Do champions dropped-in to a local Liverpool sports centre this month to put on a masterclass for veterans ahead of the European Championships taking place in the city.

Master Alan Clark, England’s International Taekwon-Do Federation Head Coach, was joined by Hwang Su-il, Japanese multiple gold-medal winning world champion and ITF Technical and Education Committee member, in providing expert tuition to residents of Launchpad’s Speke House in the south of the city at the nearby Austin Rawlinson Sports Centre.

The event was organised by Launchpad, an award-winning UK-wide charity that provides rented housing, employment and welfare support for veterans who struggle with transition from military service to civilian life.

Residents aged 16 to 60 from Speke House took part in the Taekwon-Do class, part of a wide range of activities aimed at supporting veterans from all services in overcoming a series of challenged from depression, alcohol and drug-related problems.

Both teachers gave a demonstration of their own unique skills, with Hwang’s distinct style catapulting him to iconic status within the gaming community having provided the motion-capture for the popular Hwoarang character in the combat game, Tekken.

Launchpad Taekwon do training[1]

Japan’s multiple gold-medal winning world champion, Hwang Su-il at front, joined by Speke House residents Franc Iacobucci, John Edwards and Lenny Stone.

Master Clark explained the significance of today’s visit. He said: “We have had a long-established tie-in with the armed forces and, indeed, we will be grateful for their support throughout the championships later this month. Thanks to the British Army we will have serving members of the forces providing medical support on a voluntary basis as well as providing chefs to the team.

“It is important to our support to our veterans and the visit was arranged throughout our finance director, Mike Moran, who is a supporter of the work undertaken by Launchpad. Both myself and Hwang Su-il have enjoyed success in our careers – although I would acknowledge Su-il has a higher profile than me – and I think all the residents enjoyed hearing about the history of Taekwon-Do as well as taking part.

“I let Su-il take most of the session but we brought enough pads and other kit to make sure everyone was involved regardless of age or ability.”

David Shaw CBE, Chief Executive of Launchpad, thanked both Taekwon-Do experts for taking time out from their schedules to teach the rudiments of the ancient martial to the Speke House residents.

“I am grateful to both Alan and Su-il for coming to teach our veterans the art of Taekwon-Do. Health and fitness is a big focus for us at Launchpad and we have found that it makes a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of these veterans.

“Recently, they have undertaken some boxing training from one of our facilities managers but this was a completely new experience for all of them and one they thoroughly enjoyed.

“With Liverpool hosting this year’s European Championships it was a fantastic opportunity to hear both speak of the dedication and sacrifice required to make it to the top of their sport, a philosophy that resonates with our servicemen and women.”



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