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Over the weekend of the 24th, 25th and 26th of March ITF Ireland (IUTF) held the eagerly awaited International Instructors Course and the special 40th Anniversary celebrations in Cork City.

With nearly 250 Taekwon-Do practioners from around the world in attendance, the weekend couldn't have gone any better. As the Taekwon-Do students, Instructors and Masters descended on Silver Springs Hotel, the atmosphere was buzzing as old friends met once again and new friendships were made. The weather was typically Irish but that didn't dampen spirits as bus loads of Taekwon-Doists made their way to the Neptune stadium for the first part of the IIC on Friday evening.

With everyone lined up, Mr Dalton brought the assembled practioners through one of his legendary warm ups. With everyone stretched and ready to go, each dan grade was put into groups and a Master assigned to each one. In attendance that evening was Master Trevor Nicholls (UKITF), Master Mark Ogborne (PUMA), Master Isaac Harry (UKITF), Master Bhup Sahota (GBITF), Master Peter Sanders (Netherlands) and Master Robert Wheatley (USITF). Each Master took a designated group for specific training. Master Sanders concentrated on Self Defence, detailing special joint locks and manipulations. Master Sahota taught the fundamentals of Sine Wave motion and also the importance of meditation and the power of the mind. Master Wheatley concentrated on pattern work bringing the higher degree's through So-San tul. Master Ogborne taught boxing techniques, Master Harry concentrated on kicking drills and Master Nicholls spoke about the need for Taekwon-Do self defence training to become more realistic and street orientated.

After a thoroughly enjoyable time at Neptune stadium, it was time to head back to the Hotel and an early night for everyone as Master Choi arrived early the next morning to continue training.

On Saturday Morning the students were brought through some fundamentals by Master Wheatley and Mr Dalton and were suitably warmed up and ready to for the arrival of our President, Choi Jung Hwa IX degree Grand Master. When President Choi entered the room accompanied by ITF VP MR Michael Tibollo, he was greeted with a tremendous round of applause. He addressed the students briefly and thanked the IUTF and Mr and Mrs Dalton for the work in organising the event. We then got down to brass tacks as President Choi led the assembly through each Taekwon-Do pattern with remarkable detail and precision. You could see real awe on the face of the younger students as President Choi demonstrated techniques with amazing speed and power. The day flew by and as it drew to a close President Choi finished up with Yul Gok tul covering each 38 movements with detail. The assembled students then paid their respects to President Choi for a wonderful days training and applauded him as he left the Dojang.

That evening the stage was set for all in sundry to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the International Taekwon-Do Federation- established in 1966 March 22nd by President Choi's late father and founder of Taekwon-Do General Choi Hong Hi. When everyone was settled in and President Choi arrived, everyone was treated to a special video dedicated to the memory of General Choi which was accompanied by a heart warming rendition of Frank Sinatra's 'my way' sung by Ms Frances Tibollo. With many people holding back a tear or two, President Choi emotionally spoke about the work his father did within the ITF and dedicated himself and asked others to work hard to promote the authentic art form of Taekwon-Do.

After the traditional toasts, everyone sat down to enjoy a splendid dinner, after which special awards were handed out to people in recognition of their work in the ITF and Taekwon-Do in general. President Choi also announced a special recognition award for all those coaches and staff who were present at the World Championships in South Korea in 2004. He said this was a very special occasion for the ITF as it was the first time the that authentic Taekwon-Do was returned to land of its inception. After all the speeches and awards of recognition and achievement Master Wheatly rose to give the results of an earlier dan grading. A big cheer arose from all the IUTF members in attendance when it was announced that Mr Mark Philpott was successfully promoted to 4th degree International Instructor. Not to be out done in the cheering stakes, PUMA had an equally proud reason to cheer as Master Wheatley announced that it had been agreed by the ITF promotions committee that Mr Mark Ogborne PUMA vice chairperson was to be elevated to 7th Dan Master! A visibly shocked and emotional Master Ogborne humbly thanked the Masters present and in particular President Choi. As everyone returned to the celebrations President Choi assisted by Mr Dalton blew the candles out on the ITF birthday cake as Master Sanders lead everyone through a few bars of 'Happy Birthday'.

The following day's training was started again by Mr Dalton who warmed the students up suitably. President Choi then brought everyone through Joong Gun tul. After Joong Gun, President Choi concentrated for a number of hours on power kicking. He outlined how best to use the body's mass to its full potential while kicking. The correct technique was explained for side piercing kick and turning kick respectively. The students then were able to practice the kicks on the focus shields as President Choi looked on and corrected where needed.

After the time spent on kicking drill, president Choi continued on with tul, reaching Ge Baek tul by the end of the day. All in all the weekend was jam packed with technique, advice and power development. In usual form President Choi dedicated his time after the seminar to photo's and signing's. It was sad to see it was all over, I for one wished it was just starting at this point! When everyone was finished and changed, the goodbye's were said and warm hugs were all around as new and old friends parted. Thankfully the goodbye's are only for a short while as undoubtedly we will be together again for many more training sessions to come.

Written by: Mr J Mackey - 28th March 2006

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