Thursday, 27 September 2012


TAE kwon-do instructor Gerry Waugh teaches in Charmouth and Bridport, as well as across the Devon border in Axminster and Sidmouth. Having grown up in Scotland, he moved to Devon in the 1980s. He trained in the martial art at local classes and became a full-time instructor last year. Gerry is married to wife Vanessa, who helps with the admin side of his classes, and they have a 21-year-old son, Robbie, who is currently at university.

HOW did you become interested in tae kwon-do?
I had dabbled in other martial arts, first judo as a young child and then karate as a teenager, but I didn’t stick with them.  I discovered tae kwon-do at a TAGB demo in Honiton in the 1990s. My son enrolled in classes and, as there are some similarities to karate, at least in the basics, I was able to help him at home for a while. But, as he moved through his first few belts, the differences became obvious and I was out of my depth, so I joined too. By that time, he no longer needed my help and I was doing it for myself. I have never regretted it. Obviously, as my son started training first, he got his black belt before me, but I have very much enjoyed training alongside him.  As well as being a tae kwon-do instructor, I am also a qualified tournament referee and officiate at competitions all over the country.  

TELL us about your tae kwon-do classes...
Apart from Axminster, I also teach in Sidmouth, Charmouth and Bridport.  Adults and children train together and we have quite a few family groups, which pleases me, as I originally trained with my son.  I think it helps to have someone at home who shares the interest, so I offer a discounted training rate for family members training together. All my classes are part of the Tae Kwon-Do Association of Great Britain (TAGB). There are more than 600 TAGB schools in the UK, with around 20,000 students training.

WHY would you encourage others to take up tae kwon-do?
Certainly for fitness and flexibility. When I started, I was in my thirties and had a very sedentary office job. I was overweight, very unfit and extremely inflexible – I could barely kick above knee height. Anyone, with enough dedication and effort can go from that as far as they want to take it. For the kids, it also brings confidence, respect, discipline, coordination and good mental focus.  

DID you watch the Olympic tae kwon-do and what did you think about Jade Jones' gold medal?
When I first started watching the Olympic matches I hated it - too much hopping and cuddling! The kicks were technically superb, incredibly fast, powerful and accurate, but they were so few and far between that, as a spectator, I found it very dull to watch. I was frustrated as the art offers so much more than the limited window you see at the Olympics. Tae kwon-do translates, very loosely, as the “Way of the Foot and Fist” but, in the Olympics, punches to the head are not allowed, which gives a very restricted view of the dynamic and exciting art that I know. The later rounds, especially the finals, were more exciting.  However, sparring is really only a tiny aspect of the full range of tae kwon-do and anything that raises awareness is a positive thing. 

DO you think the Olympics has inspired others to get involved in the sport?
I certainly hope so. I hope it has inspired a whole generation to get more physically active. As I said, however, tae kwon-do is much more than just a sport. Anyone who wants to try it out is welcome to come along for a couple of free, no obligation trial sessions. You can find out more at or call me on 01297 639830.

WHAT are your other personal interests?
Tae kwon-do takes up most of my time but I also love music. I have only limited musical ability, but I like to try to write songs. There are lots of open mic sessions in several venues around this area and they are a great place to try out new material. Nobody is judgemental or critical – we all just share in the experience and support each other. Those nights are a lot of fun. I also freely admit to being a computer nerd.

WHAT do you like about living in this area?
The Devon and Dorset coastlines are amazing. Millions of people come here on holiday just to see them. Even travelling between my classes several times a week there can be times when I can turn a corner and catch a view that takes my breath away.

WHAT would you add to or change about the local area if you could?
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the saying that applies. I love it here, so why change anything?

WHAT three items would you want if stranded on a desert island?
My wife, my son and a crate of sun cream. I’m a Scot, we’re not genetically designed for sunshine!

WHERE is your ideal holiday destination and why?
I love to visit France. I’ve been there many times, although not for a couple of years. I lived and worked on the Swiss/French border for a while several years ago. I love the French way of eating out – a meal is about much more than just the food. It is a social experience. The pace of life, even in some of the cities, is more laid back and it is really nice to fit in with that for a while.

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