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  • JKN Sacha

    JKN Sacha staff training in winter nature settingA little more than ten years ago in the New Year of 2004, I started to have some lower back pain. I had an almost three year old son and an active job as a veterinary surgeon, I skied and rode horses. I was getting into the car one day and one foot slipped out from under me. I slipped two discs in my lumbar spine and fractured the pars joint. After six weeks of diagnostics, I underwent a surgical lumbar spinal fusion, and twelve weeks later, after much physical therapy, made it back to my job and my life. However, a change of pace was requested by the surgeon.

    “Don’t fall off any horses or mountains. If you break that fusion you will not walk, and it will break when the metal fails. If you don’t have the muscle tone and new bone ready when the metal fails, you will end up in a wheelchair.”

    Initially, I did physio and Pilates, but I found that a bit tame. When my son turned 6, he was small for his age but academically inclined. He was bullied in his primary school, so my husband and I researched the local martial arts classes. Alex tried it out and liked Kuk Sool Won. I liked the black uniform since there would be less washing. After a few weeks of watching and chatting with the other mums and dads, four of us; three mum’s and one dad (not my husband yet,) took the plunge and joined PSBN Chris Winter’s school in Dereham, UK.

    Alex grew in confidence, and I found a straight back and leg mobile exercise, with the mental stimulation of the Korean language, it offered the challenge I needed. Neither of us was great at it, but Kuk Sool Won is not a race. Alex and I promoted to red belt in Dereham, just prior to our relocation to the Midlands in 2009, when Alex was 8, going on 9.There was and still is, no Kuk Sool Won school in Northamptonshire, so we travelled West for 1 hour every Saturday morning, Tuesday evening and one Sunday a month to train with PKJN David Johnson in Hinckley. No two schools could be the same martial art and so different. Dereham in a sports hall, with a light hand on discipline. Hinckley in a cold, drafty old boxing club type industrial building with almost only Korean spoken and a physical, tougher approach, when 200 push ups for forgetting your belt was not unusual. But, that makes it sound bad…it was fun. It was hard and rough and ready and strongly team building.

    There was, and still is, no Kuk Sool Won school in Northamptonshire, so we travelled west for an hour every Saturday morning, Tuesday evening and one Sunday a month to train with PKJN David Johnson in Hinckley. No two schools could be the same martial art and yet be so different. Dereham had been in a sports hall, with a light hand on discipline. Hinckley was in a cold, drafty old boxing club type, industrial building with almost only Korean spoken and a physical, tougher approach, (where 200 push-ups for forgetting your belt was not unusual). But, that makes it sound bad…it was fun. It was hard and rough and ready and strongly team building.New Jokyo Nims

    I made some life long friends, met Asad, then about 13, and Alex and I promoted through brown belt stages. I took up veterinary acupuncture as a result of learning Maek Chi Ki and then meridian theory and pressure points and it has remained a part of the anaesthesia and analgesia veterinary anaesthesia service I offer. Hinckley school saw us through a hard few years in regard to work, and my first experience of stress that was almost depression, and the team started to be like family.

    In about 2011 Sir relocated to a new unit, and we all clubbed together to decorate and build and make it a Doh Jang. At that point, my husband declared that if the club made it into the better building he would join. With Ivan as a white and yellow belt and Alex and I new DBNs we had the worst year of our marriage. Ivan’s sister died after a short illness with cancer, and his mother had heart surgery. Kuk Sool friends helped us through, we got to know Asad and supported him in his move from foster care in Hinckley to independent living in Northamptonshire, and he joined the group of 5 students who now made the regular 2 hour round trip to train.

    Apart from our group, Hinckley member numbers started to fall, and for reasons it is not yet possible to discuss, the school in its original form closed in late 2013. We trained ourselves in a hired hall, in Peterborough, Tamworth, and Bedworth as guests while KSN Mark, and others like JKN Ian, worked hard to save the Hinckley school.

    Alex and I, along with Asad promoted to JKN in the summer of 2014. With the leadership of JKN then KSN Mark Hinckley, our school started to recover. My work position, and the need to offer more support to Ivan’s mother took Ivan, now a blue belt, and 2 JKNs to sell up and move again and in the odd hand fate plays you, back to Dereham!

    So, Alex and I are now training for the European championship tournament next month, Asad still lives in Northamptonshire and trains in Hinckley and Tamworth. Ivan had to retire as a red belt, in his 50s, with a hip injury. He still drops Alex to cadet class while I join them for the adult class after work. At work, I am an RCVS Advanced Practitioner in Veterinary Anaesthesia. Alex is 5 ft 3 and 13 years old, I am 5 ft and the wrong side of 40, and our Kuk Sool Won stories are not finished yet!

    With an honourable mention to Ivan, Helen, Josh, Amy, Emily, Jordan, JKNs Alex, Tammy, Ian, Asad, Steve, Helen, Mike, Raj, Cory, Ian, Haley and KSN Rebekah, Mark and PSBN Kirsty and Richard, and PKJNs David, Chris, John, and so many more.

    Peace and Long Life, and Kuk Sool Won…

    JKN Sacha

    Kuk Sool Won of Hinkley

  • Dahnbo Nim Claire Barclay

    Kuk Sool Won™ has quite literally changed and saved my life.

    Prior to starting Kuk Sool Won, I spent the last few years of my life at a very, very low point both physically and mentally. I found myself caught up in the whirlwind of depression and severe anxiety. I had no confidence. I had withdrawn from socialising. Eventually, these things manifested themselves in an eating disorder.

    I found myself as an inpatient at a specialist eating disorder ward. The first time was for seven months. When I relapsed, my second stay was five months.


    Upon my second discharge I knew I had to do things differently if I wanted to stay well. I had to find something positive to fill my life and fill the massive space that had been filled with eating disorder.

    Barely a month out of hospital I went along to Kuk Sool Won™ of Dunfermline.DBN Claire Barclay

    I could never have even dreamed how much Kuk Sool would change everything for me. I started off as a tentative student – once a week, extremely nervous, thinking I would never manage the things I was being shown and encouraged to try.

    Now, nearly four years on from my first class, my progress both physically and mentally astounds me. In terms of my ongoing recovery I have taken massive steps – a lot of which comes down to the fact that I realised that in order to train (now four times a week) I needed a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. I have taken on challenges and overcome them with the support, patience, and dedication of my instructors.

    I have taken on responsibility for running a Wee Warriors class once a week and being heavily involved in helping with the other kids classes. I have been involved in demonstrations,  taken part in tournaments, and done gradings and national testings. I am now within touching distance of achieving my Black Belt.

    DBN Claire at KSW of DunfermlineI have met people I trust. I have made friends. I have even met my fiancé.

    And now, even when I struggle, I have a strong motivation to keep going. I have achieved so much in Kuk Sool and Kuk Sool has helped me achieve the ‘impossible.’ I have too much to lose by slipping back. It has not been easy to get to the stage where I am now, but the fact I have managed it proves to me just how much I am capable of, and how much of a positive influence my Kuk Sool training has been.

    This is my Kuk Sool journey so far.
    I’m ready to travel the rest.

    Kuk Sool Won™ School





    Update from Claire

    I have now promoted to first-degree black belt!

    This is an incredible achievement by itself, but it feels even more amazing considering that 5 years ago I was confined to the four walls of an eating disorder unit – not allowed to go outside or walk about too much due to my eating disorder and my BMI/weight being dangerously low.

    Yet 5 years on I have completed many, many, many three-hour gradings which have been extremely tough both physically and mentally. I have been challenged and yes, I have had wobbles along the way. But thanks to my instructors, fiance, and friends at Kuk Sool Won of Dunfermline, I did it. I am now a Jo Kyo Nim.

    I am so so incredibly proud of myself and how far I have come. Yet this is not the end of my Kuk Sool journey. I believe this is just the beginning. I will continue to train hard, stay healthy, and learn. There is so much more to come! And now I really do believe that I can achieve anything.

    JKN Claire Barclay
    Kuk Sool Won of Dunfermline

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  • Brown Belt Shawnie Coffey

    My two young sons became students of Kuk Sool Won in spring of 2012. I always stayed to watch their First board, yellow belt testclasses. When I was a child I spent a decade studying and then competing in gymnastics. I derived immeasurable satisfaction and joy from it. While watching my children practice, I would tell myself, “I could do that!” and, “That looks like fun!”.

    I held back at first because I was afraid that my almost 40-year-old body could not handle it after having pushed it so hard as a child. When I saw that one of KSW getting the brown beltthe students who had a blue belt was in her late 60’s, I realized I had nothing to worry about. I started taking classes during the summer of 2013. I love every minute of it! I haven’t felt this strong and capable in 28 years! Some of my gymnastics is coming back to me, which I have dearly missed. I could not continue that sport as an adult because of the strain on too many of my joints, but I have no trouble expressing myself when I practice martial arts.

    When I see myself in the mirror in class, I am proud of what I have accomplished so far, and I look forward to continuing for a long time to come.

    Kuk Sool Won School

    Kuk Sool Won of Half Moon Bay, CA


    Brown with Black Stripe