The evolution of Crown Tae Kwon Do (CTF) began in 1974 when Master Hock Lye Ooi, a student of Grandmaster Choi Chang Keun, came to the UK from Korea. Master Ooi opened the first class of Ooi's Tae Kwon Do (Tang Soo Do) in a small church hall in Hackney, East London. Beginning with just six students, the club expanded rapidly throughout London and the South East. Master Ooi has said that his greatest passion as an Instructor was during his time in England and some of the best Tae Kwon Do fighters in the country came from his school.
Master Ooi moved to Canada in 1985, but over the years the club has maintained close links with him and he has run several training seminars at the club during his visits back to the UK. We are proud of our association with Master Ooi, who is now one of the most experienced and respected martial artists in the world. We are eternally grateful for the support we receive from him.
When Master Ooi left the UK many of his Black Belts formed their own clubs and one of these was Master Hercules ‘Chris’ Christophis, who then formed GC Tae Kwon Do with Master Steve Graham. Master Chris then went on to form the Christophis Tae Kwon Do Federation; the first CTF. Strongly supported by Patrick and Michael Morgan, Larry Harrison and Jack Watson, the club became very successful at competitions and produced many Black Belts.
Master Chris stepped down as Chief Instructor in 2002. He remains in contact with the club and is always available for support and advice, which is invaluable to us. Without his first class instruction and guidance over the years he ran CTF we would not have had the experience or platform to have been able to take the club forward.
When considering the way ahead when Master Chris retired, we decided that we still wanted to be known as CTF. As this new chapter in the story of the club started in the year of Her Majesty the Queen’s Golden Jubilee, we chose Crown Tae Kwon Do Federation as our new name. We also wanted to run the club on a more collective basis, to make the most of the experience and ideas of all our Black Belts. So, whilst new Chief Instructors were appointed – these being Master David Crump and Master Patrick Cloherty, they were strongly supported by the then Black Belts Mark Craker, Mark Willoughby, Peter Serretiello, Paul Smith, Mark Dever, Martin Smith and Jon Holmes through a newly formed Committee. Regular meetings were held and thoughts exchanged to plot the best way forward.
This democratic ethos remains and whilst the Chief Instructors tend to have the greatest influence because of their experience, decisions are made by consensus. The Chief Instructors are always receptive to suggestions from the other Black Belts and indeed from any club members or supporters. Unity in leadership remains paramount and regular Committee meetings and club events have helped with this.
We also value our independent status and thus far have decided not to affiliate to an umbrella organisation. We remain open minded about this however and if we perceive that there may be a benefit to our students in doing so at some stage in the future, we will do.
On hearing of the success of the restructured club, a number of our Black Belts who had fallen away from CTF expressed an interest in returning and we welcomed a number of them such as Stuart Holliday, Alan Piers, Dan and Matt Le Fleur back into fold. This open door policy remains and a number of our current Black Belts have come back to the club after having taken a break.
Since forming the new CTF three of our most influential Black Belts have passed on. The club seeks to keep their memory alive by dedicating our main annual honours to their memory:
· Student of the Year Award – Dedicated to Peter Serretiello who was killed on the 9th July 2002 in a motorbike accident on his way home after training at a class in Biggin Hill. Peter was an extremely talented martial artist and an inspiration to us all and the club retains strong links with Peter’s family, who often attend our annual Awards Night and present the trophy to the new recipient.
· Junior Student of the Year Award – Dedicated to Master Pat Cloherty, who left us unexpectedly in March 2009. Master Pat was not just a great martial artist, husband and father but a valued friend to everyone who knew him. His experience, inspiration and humour are sorely missed.
· Tenets Award – Dedicated to Dan Le Fleur, who lost a brave battle with cancer in August 2016. Involved with the club from a young age, he rose to 2nd Dan, was a class instructor and was very popular with everyone at the club. Dan was a great son, brother, husband and friend.
Following the loss of Master Pat, Master Dave became the sole Chief Instructor and began teaching on a full time basis. Other instructors continued to teach part time and Stuart Holliday and Mark Willoughby were appointed joint Assistant Chief Instructors. Together they gave the club a balanced and strong leadership.
Master Dave’s association with CTF ended in 2013 and our latest chapter sees Mark Willoughby (4rd Dan) and Stuart Holliday (3rd Dan) as joint Chief Instructors. They are working very hard to keep CTF the fantastic club that it has always been and they are extremely grateful to all our active Black Belts for their continued support.
As we enter our fifth decade the club continues to change and evolve. In the early years the bulk of our students were males in their 20’s, but now we have a real cross section of male and female, young and…. not so young! It is common to see parents training in the same class as their children. Why sit at the side and watch your children when you could be experiencing all the positives of this fantastic martial art yourself?
This mix of gender, age and ability has led to a real camaraderie amongst the students and everyone helps and supports their colleagues. This means there is a real family feel to the club and consequently our retention of students is extremely high.
So, what of the future? As long as people want to learn traditional Tae Kwon Do and we have passionate instructors, CTF will be there. We will carefully feel our way forward, listening to our students with an open mind and we will work hard to ensure they all maximize their potential. In this way we can and will go from strength to strength.