Small club making big impact

IMUGI Taekwondo students recently tasted success on the national stage.

And, the small martial arts school’s first year of operation has exceeded what chief instructor Tony Gillespie and Kelly O’Brien could have ever imagined.

Imugi Taekwondo was founded by Gillespie and O’Brien in January.

With almost 40 years’ combined martial arts experience, the pair originally began to teach their five children a discipline, which boasted high integrity and technical skill.

Now, Imugi has two dojangs, one in Medowie and the other in Sandy Hollow.

Gillespie and O’Brien travel to both dojangs to train their students, thus ensuring their high standards of skill and dedication are maintained throughout Imugi.

In addition to developing well-rounded strong martial artists, the couple led their small school into the National All Styles (NAS) Martial Arts and Australian Martial Arts Championships (AMAC) circuits.

They went to gain tournament experience and see how they measured up against other students from across NSW and Australia.

Not only did the Imugi pupils have loads of fun, they found themselves to be extremely competitive with all 13 who competed finishing within the top five in NSW for their respective events and divisions.

Two students, including Merriwa teenager Jeannie-Belle Mason, came home 2014 state champions.

Mason captured the 15-17 years female 10th-6th Kyu point sparring and novice women’s point sparring titles, while Taylor Windle prevailed in the 15-17 years male 10th-6th Kyu point sparring.

“The national championships was an extremely exciting occasion for all the Imugi team, both at home in support and on the mat in competition,” Gillespie said.

“Never in their wildest dreams did any of them imagine they’d qualify, let alone actually be a contender for an Australian title.

“Our small contingent made the trip to Melbourne (NAS) and Sydney (AMAC) in late November for the national championships.

“We couldn’t have been prouder nor predicted the amazing results that were to follow over the two days of competition.

“The 10 Imugis returned home with 14 placings, including three national titles.”

Gillespie, himself, was a strong member of the NSW male open black belt point sparring team who defeated both Victoria and Queensland to be crowned champions.

Seventeen-year-old Mason was part of the NSW novice women’s team who defeated their opponents in very convincing style.

Denman’s Hugh Higgins, 12, achieved an amazing personal feat, becoming a national champion in the 12-14 years 10th-6th Kyu male point sparring.

Other exceptional results from the championships saw all Imugis finish within the top eight of their respective divisions and events.

In addition to competing, Gillespie and O’Brien were appointed NAS officials and NSW state coaches.

“The Imugi team has an extremely bright future ahead, with all 10 who competed at the national titles, qualifying for the World Championships in 2015,” he said.

“That said, we are not losing sight of what we have back home in our dojangs.

“We’re preparing for our own inaugural Imugi presentation night and our first junior black belt grading in early 2015.

“Everyone is working hard to ensure they not only enjoy their chosen art but also become strong well-rounded martial artists.”

The Imugi motto is Train Hard, Fight Easy.

Following this has served them all well throughout 2014 – and will continue to do so into the future.

GREAT YEAR: Imugi Taekwondo chief instructor Tony Gillespie, Taylor Windle, Codi Marsh, Jeannie-Belle Mason and Kelly O’Brien. Absent: Hugh Higgins

GREAT YEAR: Imugi Taekwondo chief instructor Tony Gillespie, Taylor Windle, Codi Marsh, Jeannie-Belle Mason and Kelly O’Brien. Absent: Hugh Higgins