This year saw the Midleton Taekwon-Do Club celebrate its tenth anniversary. Founded in 2009 with less than twenty students, ten years later the club now has more than two hundred people training every week. Running six days a week in its full time hall in Market Green Shopping Centre, the Midleton Taekwon-Do Club has had many highpoints over the years, such as: training more than thirty three students to black belt level; winning multiple local, national, and international competitions; bringing home countless European and World medals, as well as claiming three ITF European Championship titles and three ITF World Championship wins.
The club started in 2009 with Taekwon-Do Ninja classes for ages 4-7. Run by Mr James Dwyer and Mr Paul Manning, the classes began in the Old School Building on Church Lane, before moving to the Community Centre in Market Green. Mr Dwyer then went on to open the Taekwon-Do Club for older students of ages 8 and up, as well as training teenagers and adults in the hall in the Midleton Rugby Club. The next year, in 2010, Mr Manning and Mr Dwyer won the Midleton Taekwon-Do Club’s first world medals, with Mr Manning winning bronze in the ITF World Championships in Korea, and with Mr Dwyer winning bronze in the same event fighting as part of the Irish Team and going one step further to win gold in his individual section becoming the ITF Adult Middle Weight World Champion.
In 2011 the club continued to grow and moved their classes to the hall in St John the Baptist National School, before getting too big again for that and finally leasing out their own full time unit in Knockgriffin Industrial Estate in 2012. It was 2012 where the club achieved its second huge win on the world level, with Mr Paul Manning winning gold in Canada and becoming the ITF Adult Light Weight World Champion.
One of the Midleton Taekwon-Do Club’s biggest years came next in 2013, where the club had its first students achieve their black belts: Arek Andrejewski, Arnaud Dumat, Daniel Hefkaluk, Jacob Mudy, Liam Kelly, Natalia Hefkaluk, Sam McSweeney, and Verlene Buenchou became the first eight people in the club to pass this extremely tough test. In the same year, more than twenty fighters from the club of all belts and ages also travelled to the TAGB World Opens in Birmingham and returned with 6 bronze medals, 4 silver, and 1 gold.
The club’s chief instructor at the time, Mr James Dwyer, took a step back from running the club in 2014 with Mr Paul Manning and Ms Aoife O Brien taking on the lead roles. The Midleton Taekwon-Do Club has been lucky to have some great instructors and assistant instructors over the years: Mr Mark Crowley, Mr Warren Delaforce, Ms Annie Cummins, Mr Michael Sheppard, Mr Michael McSweeney, Ms Julie Buckley, Mr Arnuad Dumat, and Mr Tomasz Zienkiewicz to name but a few. It was under Mr Manning and Ms O Brien though where the club found its permanent new home in Market Green Shopping Centre in 2015.
Over the next two years the club thrived in its full time location in Market Green, with many more international successes in countries such as Italy, Switzerland, Poland, and Brazil, and with many new black belt promotions. Mr James Dwyer returned to the club in 2017 to run the club’s most dangerous classes – the Taekwon-Do Ninjas (ages 4-7) – and in 2018 took over from Mr Manning and Ms O Brien to run the full club once again. It was 2018 when the club also won its third world championship title, with Mr Paul Manning taking bronze in Argentina in the adult welter weight division, and Mr James Dwyer winning gold to become the Senior Heavy Weight World Champion.
And finally, this year, the Midleton Club took part in the 2019 ITF European Championships which were held right here in Cork, with twenty colour belts winning more than thirty European medals from the ITF Cup, and with three black belts – Ms Lauren Jordan, Mr Tomasz Zienkiewicz, and Mr James Dwyer – winning an amazing thirteen medals between them, six of them gold; three gold medal wins as part of the Irish Teams, and three gold medal wins as European Championship titles.
To mark the past ten years of training, of constant hard work and of incredible success, the Midleton Taekwon-Do Club invited back all its past students to attend a group photo in its Market Green Hall. It was overwhelming to see so many familiar faces again, especially students who had trained as young as eight years old returning now as grown women and men (and most of them grown to a height of at least eight feet!). The Midleton Taekwon-Do Club would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who’s ever been a part of the club for helping to make it the success that it is today and to the entire Midleton community who have been an amazing support throughout the years. No doubt there will be many more years of great success ahead!