Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Martial arts school couple raising money for teaching

Martial arts school couple raising money for teaching

THE founders of Watlington taekwondo school are to stage a 26-mile sponsored night-time walk to support teaching of the sport.

Adam Gardner and his fiancée Agnes Wrobel are raising money for the school’s parent organisation, the Professional Unification of Martial Arts, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

It has had no income for the last six months and is at risk of folding.

Mr Gardner, 41, who is a teaching assistant, and Ms Wrobel, 40, who works at a medical research facility in Harwell, normally run classes for adults and children at the Watlington Club in High Street as well as Nettlebed Community School.

However, when the covid-19 lockdown was brought in March they had to switch to online teaching. Students were split into different classes depending on their experience.

The couple also gave one-to-one classes and held quizzes and storytime sessions for the children. Now they have resumed nornal classes three days a week while adhereing to social distancing guidelines.

The pair will be walking from Watlington to Newbury on Saturday, October 3, starting at 9pm and hopefully finishing at 7am the next day. They have signed up about 15 other people to join them.

Mr Gardner said: “I could see that the lockdown and restrictions on our teaching was not going to be short-term.

“The association that we’re part of has had no income at all since lockdown. All its income comes from gradings, competitions and seminars and, of course, none of that has happened. The instructors like ourselves have still received income but the association hasn’t.

“It is run by a group of amazing people and they never ask for help financially.

“Taekwondo and martial arts can be life-changing and the end of PUMA would be a great loss to thousands of people.

“Martial arts is one of the ways that people deal with personal and physiological difficulties and the loss of our association would be detrimental to the welfare of a lot of adults.

“That would take a lot of good things away from people who struggle with their wellbeing. There’s so much good that martial arts does.

“We just thought something needed to be done and to do something to inspire people to want to do it with us. Agnes came up with the idea of the walk. We know it will hurt and we’ll get a few blisters but we’ll keep going. When you’ve done martial arts for a long time you realise pain is only temporary.”

The couple are hoping to raise £1,000 and have already collected about a third of the total.

Mr Gardner said: “We all love PUMA — it has given so much to our lives, families and friends.

“Now is the time to support our association to ensure it is able to continue for future generations.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the association.

The walk will finish at Newbury taekwondo school, which is run by Master Mark Ogborne, a triple world champion and an instructor.

Mr Gardner and Ms Wrobel, who live in Didcot, founded their school two years ago next month and train several times a week.

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