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Taekwondo expert relaunches class to share martial arts passion with all abilities

PUBLISHED: 14:04 08 November 2017

Mary Sellen is teaching WTF Taekwondo to men, women and children of all ages and ability on Tuesday evenings at the community hall on Hollingsworth Road in Gunton. Picture: Mick Howes

Mary Sellen is teaching WTF Taekwondo to men, women and children of all ages and ability on Tuesday evenings at the community hall on Hollingsworth Road in Gunton. Picture: Mick Howes

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A Lowestoft woman who has been learning and teaching taekwondo for over 30 years is trying to get more disabled students involved in her classes.

Mrs Sellen has emphasised that taekwondo is a martial art accessible for everyone. Picture: Mick HowesMrs Sellen has emphasised that taekwondo is a martial art accessible for everyone. Picture: Mick Howes

Mary Sellen started training in WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) Taekwondo back in 1985 at the age of 37 and, having attained her first dan black belt in 1990, she then decided to start teaching.

It wasn’t long before Mrs Sellen began to develop a strong reputation for her tuition, which led to her passing on wisdom to the next generation of martial artists in countries across Europe.

Taekwondo has been recognised for the 2020 Paralympics and, after taking a break from teaching, Mrs Sellen has decided that the time is right to resume a club in Gunton and get more students with disabilities to give taekwondo a go.

Mary Sellen has been doing taekwondo since 1985 and is now a 5th Dan Master. Picture: Mick HowesMary Sellen has been doing taekwondo since 1985 and is now a 5th Dan Master. Picture: Mick Howes

“My aim is simply to get more students involved, and not just able-bodied students either,” said Mrs Sellen, who is now considered a ‘Master’ after reaching fifth dan.

“Taekwondo is supposed to be a martial art for everybody.

The more people that can do it, the better, but a lot of people just don’t know about it.”

Taekwondo has been recognised for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Picture: Mick HowesTaekwondo has been recognised for the 2020 Paralympic Games. Picture: Mick Howes

Mrs Sellen’s firm desire to make taekwondo accessible for everyone stems from the initial lack of confidence that she had in her ability to teach individuals who are not able-bodied.

“Back when I first started teaching, I received a phone call from someone at Mencap (a charity which supports people with learning disabilities) who was interested in taekwondo, but at the time I wasn’t yet confident enough in my own teaching ability.

“Then, one day, a boy in a wheelchair who used to sit and watch my classes approached me and asked ‘can I take part?’, and I was determined to give him the opportunity.

“I want to teach the person, not the wheelchair, and I personally don’t know where else people with disabilities can go and do Taekwondo.”

Mrs Sellen’s classes are available to men, women and children of all ages and abilities.

Sessions are held on Tuesdays from 7.45pm to 8.45pm at the community hall on Hollingsworth Road in Gunton. For more details, call 01502 581100.

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