The South Korean martial art taekwondo is one of the world’s fastest growing sports. It’s also catching on fast in Huddersfield. One Birkby club, which began with a single class six years ago, now boasts hundreds of members. Hilarie Stelfox went along to find out why.
HE’S widely known in the Huddersfield area as Master Mosy, the taekwondo instructor.
But just six years ago the Iranian-born martial arts expert had only a single class at Fartown High School with a handful of members. Today Mosy Bagherzadeh heads a thriving club with around 400 students of all ages and from all communities.
His enthusiasm for the world’s fastest-growing sport is so infectious that the Birkby-based Premier Taekwondo club, which he founded in late 2006, runs 20 training and sparring classes a week for children from the age of three, families and adults. It even has its own women-only session, led by a female instructor.
And it’s expanding, with newly-opened branches in Batley and Mirfield.
It’s quite a success story for the 30-year-old, who arrived in Britain as a student of English and ended up making Yorkshire his home.
Taekwondo is a full contact empty-hand combat form with its origins in the many types of martial arts that existed in Korea and its Far Eastern neighbours.
Mosy, who now lives in Lindley but learned taekwondo from the age of 10 in his native Iran, says the discipline is incredibly popular in the Middle East.
“It’s the number one sport in Iran,” he said. “Iran has the world champion and it’s becoming much better known here now. When I first started teaching here a lot of people didn’t know what it was and used to get it confused with karate or kung fu.”
As with many forms of martial art, taekwondo is said to improve fitness, boost confidence and self esteem and teach discipline.
Initially, Mosy, who became a black belt 15 years ago, took his classes into schools in the Kirklees area – he still teaches in some – and says he was welcomed by both staff and pupils.
“For example, I approached a school in Dalton and said I wanted 30 students but they called me and said 97 had signed up. I had to go to the school twice a week,” he explained.
“Taekwondo teaches self control and self discipline. I’ve taught children with learning difficulties, light disabilities, bad behaviour, anger problems and shyness issues. It’s good for everyone.”
When he began teaching the martial art Mosy was working as a part-time chef and in hotel management.
Today he is a full-time instructor at the club, which opened its own premises in Linden Road two years ago and is now run by a committee of officials.
Mosy says taekwondo gave him the self-confidence to teach.
“When I compare myself to how I was 10 years ago I was very lacking in confidence and very shy,’’ he said. “Now I can talk in front of 200 people and I feel absolutely fine.”
One of the keys to the success of clubs such as Premier Taekwondo is getting whole families involved.
The Siddiqui family from Salendine Nook is typical of the many who turn out each week to classes.
“It’s fun, it’s exercise and we can do it together,” said mum Jennifer.