Martin Svitek, 22.5.2011 – Quest was simple (and Ondra Vrábel was its creator) – make an interwiev during Bohemian championship or Czech Open. I thought about some Swiss taekwondist from the beginning, because I knew others doesn´t want to use english so much. Peter Regan would be good choice, but then I got idea that talking to Sandra Guggisberg might be interesting. She is kind of big small women of Swiss taekwondo for me (I hope it sounds nice because it is meant that way :o) ) . We spoke drinking beer before Czech Open, but together with all the chat with 2 boys from Sonkal (just passing their I. Dan test), Radek Kolář and rest of Swiss team the interview would not have any meaning :o) So I did it through internet. Enjoy.
1/ How long have you practised TKD?
I have practised Taekwon-Do for about six years now. I started at a GTF school while I was on an exchange year in Ireland – a friend of mine is a black belt and dragged me to one of the classes. It turned out that I really liked it and fortunately, I found a great school (TKD Baden) when I returned to Switzerland.
2/ Is TKD the first martial art you practice? Did you do any other sports before?
Yes, Taekwon-Do is my first martial art. As a kid, I always wanted to do Karate, but I never found a club near where I lived. When I was a teenager, I did wheel gymnastics (Rhönrad) for a while, but wasn’t very good at it. I also played handball for a few years. I’m glad to have found Taekwon-Do: It turned out to be perfect for me and really got me excited about martial arts and sports in general!
3/ Who is your teacher?
Peter Regan (IV), president of ITF Suisse, is my instructor.
4/ Do you lead any trainings?
Not very often, but when the other instructors are away I lead trainings. I often lead warm-ups or stretching routines and I help out with kids‘ training every once in a while. During normal training, I help correct the beginners.
5/ How did you enjoy the international seminar with Master Hwang?
I enjoyed the seminar very much and think I learned a lot. It’s great to attend these seminars as a black belt: You actually see and hear something because you get to stand in the first half of the hall and not in the last row. I remember as a colour belt I would stand all the way at the back and not benefit so much. I also really liked the training hall and the mats, which were great to train on. Finally, I always like training with other people from other countries – at our club we always have the same training partners because there aren’t so many black belts, so it is a good experience to train with other people for a change.
6/ Was it the first event of that kind for you or do you travel more often to take part in international events?
I try to attend as many seminars as I can. However, I usually support the seminars that we hold in Switzerland. I travel to the Czech Republic fairly often (2-3 times per year) for training camps with Ge Baek Hosin Sool and sometimes Sonkal school.
7/ What are your plans and goals in tkd?
At the moment, I am preparing for my 2 nd Dan exam, which is my short-term goal. I want to get better at jumping, too ;-) I am also looking forward to the World Championships in North Korea, which I would really like to attend, even if it’s just as a spectator.
For the future, I am hoping to keep training at least twice a week – at the moment it’s usually 4-5 times but I’m sure once I’m not a university student anymore, I will have less time. I also want to keep improving and learning - I think in TKD, as in many other fields, this process never really ends.
I could even see myself teaching my own TKD group at some point or even opening a school together with my partner, who is a 2 nd Dan at the moment.
8/ The Swiss Taekwon-Do federation is a pretty small and new organization. What do you consider to be its greatest advantages and disadvantages?
The advantage of being a new and small organization is that we’re very open to innovation and change. When we want to try something new, it’s unlikely that someone will say: “But we’ve always done it in a different way…” Also, with some of our club’s members being part of the federation’s administration, we can influence the decisions being taken.
But this also means a lot of work, since many of us hold multiple positions within our federation or our club. My instructor, Peter Regan, for example, is not only the president of ITF Suisse, but also the founder and president of our school. At the same time, he is one of the national coaches, the head instructor of our school and organizer of seminars and other national events. I am the secretary of ITF Suisse and also help with the website, sponsoring and PR.
Another disadvantage is that we are too small to be able to afford our own Master and don’t have access to technical instruction for our higher ranks. This is why we travel to so many seminars and training camps abroad. This is why most of our black belts are quite knowledgeable and experienced for their rank. I think to a certain degree, you appreciate instruction from another instructor or Master a lot more when you have to travel far for it.
We also don’t have very many black belts, which means that there aren’t always enough instructors. This also has a bit of an advantage, however: our blue, red and black belts have experience leading trainings since there aren’t always enough instructors. The small number of black belts also means that we often have the excellent opportunity to speak to Masters at seminars, since we are fairly important within our own organization.
Questions and foreword by Martin Svitek, ideas by Sandra Guggisberg ;o)