On 16 October, 2015
Taekwondo, an exciting Korean martial art invented by General Choi Hong Hai in 1955, is becoming increasingly popular amongst young people in the UK.
Taekwondo is also a martial art in which young British athletes are excelling on the worldwide arena. Here is the lowdown on five up-and-coming Taekwondo athletes and established stars of the Taekwondo world:
Damon Sansum won silver at the World Taekwondo Championships, held earlier this year in Chelyabinsk. He was the first British male to be awarded a WTF medal and he has also recently won a bronze medal at the Korean Open. This is an incredible achievement when Sansum only started Taekwondo five months ago!
Sansum has enjoyed a successful kickboxing background but applied for the 'Fighting Chance' programme and was fortunate enough to be selected for the British Academy in Manchester, giving him the breakthrough that has enabled his determination and integrity to be translated into international victories. WTF Taekwondo is currently the only kicking martial art that offers the chance to represent your country on an international level and is also an Olympic sport. Damon Sansum hopes to represent the UK in Rio.
Jade 'The Headhunter' Jones
Jade Jones is one of the UK's best-known taekwondo stars, particularly in Wales, where she won the public vote to become the 'BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year in 2012.'
Jade was born in Wales in 1993 and left school aged 16 to concentrate on taekwondo full time. This early dedication paid off as Jade became Team GB's first ever gold medallist at the Summer Youth Olympics, in Singapore in 2010.
After numerous other trophies at international events, such as the World Championships, Jones won a place in many British hearts when she won a gold medal at The London 2012 Olympics, an awe-inspiring achievement, the first ever Brit to win a gold medal in this discipline, and was subsequently awarded an MBE in recognition of her achievements.
Jade's nickname is the 'Headhunter' as her preference is to aim higher-scoring kicks at her opponents heads rather than their bodies.
The Ginger Ninja Trickster/Aaron Gassor
Aaron Gassor aka The Ginger Ninja Trickster has become a YouTube sensation with his helpful online taekwondo tutorials, which have over 113,000 subscribers.
Taekwondo is in the family for Newport-based Gassor. His dad and sister are instructors at the local Martial Arts and Fitness Centre in Newport, and his mother and other sister also work there as receptionists. Gassor has become a well-known and highly respected Taekwondo instructor and is an acrobatic and energetic taekwondo practitioner. In fact, he is well-known for combining acrobatics with traditional taekwondo moves. His online tutorials are incredibly popular because of Gassor's down-to-earth approach and the clarity of his instructions that are helping thousands of youngsters to improve their taekwondo techniques.
Gassor's career as an instructor is going from strength to strength and is also diversifying; he has recently been involved in a Welsh action movie 'Kamikaze' which showcases some of his finest moves- look out for it soon!
Lutalo Mohammed was born in Walthamstow, East London in 1991, and started taekwondo from early childhood; his father began instructing him when he was only three years old!
Mohammed went on to become a highly successful British taekwondo athlete, who won a bronze medal for team GB in the 2012 Olympics. The decision to select Lutalo over his long-term rival Aaron Cook was controversial at the time, with Cook so disgruntled with the Olympic officials that he elected to become a citizen of Moldova, but Lutalo's determined success proved that he is not a taekwondo star who is easily defeated.
Lutalo Mohammed suffered a serious knee injury earlier this year but luckily recovered enough to win another bronze medal at the European Championships held in June. Let's hope Lutalo is on better form than ever at the Manchester's World Taekwondo Grand Prix this weekend!
24-year-old Bianca Walkden is a British taekwondo athlete from Liverpool who is another member of the GB Taekwondo Academy in Manchester, a city that has been dubbed the 'Mecca of British Taekwondo'.
Earlier this spring, Walkden beat Glady Epanque in an exhilarating final of the World Taekwondo Championships. This was an important victory for Bianca as she became the second Brit ever to be awarded a Taekwondo world title. Bianca's phenomenal success in 2015, even with an injury to a knee ligament, means that she is full of confidence to tackle the next challenge, the 2016 Olympics in Rio, when hopefully she will be fitter than ever.
On 23 October, 2015
There are plenty of things to do with kids that are fun, free and mostly indoors, so they can be enjoyed no matter what the season.
Here are some ideas of things to do with kids:
1. Bring the Beach to your Garden
Why not bring the beach to your garden? Creating a sandbox is not expensive. A bag of baby sand costs around £3.
2. Victorian Lesson at the Ragged School Museum
If you live in Greater London, look out for free family activities at museums. At the Ragged School Museum, kids can find out what it was like going to school 150 years ago and dress up in Victorian costume free on the first Sunday of each month.
3. Playing a new Type of Skittles
It's a good exercise for hand-to-eye coordination. Alter the distances every so often or ask kids to hit only a specific "colour" of skittle, having previously tied coloured ribbons around them.
4. Visit Smelly Streets of Sailortown
The free admission Museum of London Dockyards offers a designated gallery zone for tiny "Mudlarks", and great exhibits for older kids in the main galleries, including a walk-through exhibit recreating the sounds, sights and smells of London's dockyards during Victorian times.
5. Messy Play
Mums and dads living in Greater Manchester should look out for messy play sessions for kids under six at the Active Copley Centre in Stalybridge. Admission per child costs £3.00, but everything is edible, even the paint.
6. Zip Wire Adventures
In London's Coram's Fields Playgrounds, Zone 1 offers kids a great time. Huge trees, sandpits, paddling pools and pens with chickens, goats, birds and rabbits - what more could your budding naturalists want?
7. Family-friendly Martial Arts
Try a free family Martial Arts class where parents and children can try Martial Arts together as a family. Things to do with kids include Ju Jitsu, Kickboxing, Karate, MMA, Self Defence, Taekwondo and Kung Fu. Instruction can be tailor-made to families' requirements.
8. Wacky Garden Races
All kids like to race around like little lunatics. Create a finish line on your patio or lawn and off they go.
9. Assault Courses for Tots
Create a mini-adventure ground with tunnels, obstacles and climbing frames that are safe.
10. Modelling using every-day Junk
Egg-carton bugs are easy to make and a fun display on window sills.
11. Treasure Hunt
Create one set of clues for every player, perhaps rhyming the clues for extra fun. Each clue leads to the next one and eventually to the treasure. Seal clues into envelopes marked with clue numbers (one of eight, 1/8 for example), so treasure hunters can keep track.
12. Write a Family Recipe Book
Write a family recipe book and get kids to provide pictures for it. Encourage kids to try out recipes under supervision.
13. Indoor Camping
Build a den that will last for an afternoon - it's one of those all-time favourite things to do with kids that will remind you of your own childhood!
14. Indoor Picnic
Get kids to help prepare mini-sandwich triangles, cocktail sausages, quiche slices and biscuits or muffins.
15. Inspiring Young Artists
Other fun things to do with kids that are usually free include visiting artists' studios such as Neon Wonderland at God's Own Junkyard in Walthamstow, Greater London. It's open to the public from Fridays to Sundays.
16. Animal Feeding Times
Large public parks offer many free exciting things to do with kids. Watch pelicans being fed fresh fish at London's St James's Park on Duck Island at the eastern end of the park, daily at 2.30 pm.
17. Family Cycling Trips
Sherwood Pines Forest offers Nottinghamshire-based families some 3,000 acres in which to let off steam. The Family Cycle Route is an easy 3-mile jaunt for all ages and ability and can be enjoyed in most weather conditions. In Hampshire's New Forest families also can hire bikes and enjoy signposted trails suitable for all ages.
Kids aged 8 and older can enjoy kayaking with an experienced instructor. Look out for river and lake kayaking centres in your area. Often the first lesson is free.
19. Nature Walks
Large city parks usually offer free nature walks, sometimes in the evening for bat and owl watching adventures.
20. Making Kites and Lanterns
Many parent and kid websites offer printable free templates for kite and lantern making. Head to the park for your own lantern parade and kite-flying competition.