There’s no messing with this Taekwondo family!
John and Sue, both 51, along with children Mikey, 17, Jake, 16, and Aimee, 15, have spent seven years training together to reach 2nd Dan level – a grade above the first Black Belt level.
I was looking for something to build their confidence quickly and I had done some martial arts when I was younger
Now the Garstang family help more than 40 other Taekwondo students work through their martial arts grades.
Their journey began out of adversity, in September 2008.
John, who works in the renewables industry, said: “The two boys are redheads and they got a load of bullying because of that.
“I was looking for something to build their confidence quickly and I had done some martial arts when I was younger.
“I knew that with Taekwondo it was something that isn’t long-winded, you can move on quite quickly.
“Then when I saw them doing it I got itchy feet and got into it again. Then my wife and daughter came to watch and wanted to join a couple of months later.”
The family have all made a deliberate effort to stay at the same level and work through the gradings together.
While the children and John have done various contests, Sue had never entered a competition until May when she entered the national championships and won her category in sparring.
“She’s a hard nut,” laughed John. He added: “For a family to do it like this is very unusual, it’s never been done in our association before.
“Lots of people get to first Dan, the black belt, and then finish. But it’s really like driving a car, that’s when you’re just starting to learn.
“As you get older you look at things differently and develop what you’re doing.
“It’s all about confidence. You get young kids coming wanting to be the next Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan because it looks good, but it’s about confidence and courtesy.”
He added: “Taekwondo was developed as a form of self-defence, but it teaches you that you don’t have to fight. You know you’ve got the skills, but you don’t need to use it.
“I had a confrontation a few weeks ago outside our property over bins. There were two drunken young lads and they wanted to play fisticuffs.
“But I spoke to them about the consequences of it and they ended up picking up the bins and putting them away.”
Now more than 40 students attend classes run by the family in Garstang, one session takes place at at Garstang YMCA on Saturday mornings and three others are during the week at Garstang Community Centre.
The eldest student is 62 and the youngest is four.