Now the whole family can learn powerful self defence

"Master Les Hicks" Interview Part 2

17 January 07


This is the second part of the Master Hicks interview that was conducted by Regional Instructor Martin for the W.S.T.A E-Mag.


MARTIN; Master Hicks, is Shim Jang Taekwondo suitable for everyone ?

MH; Shim Jang Taekwondo is an art for ALL people. We have many men, women and children within our ranks. Members as young as 5 years old happily & successfully train in our classes, indeed some of our more Senior Instructors are lady members. The art does not discriminate and is freely available for all to enjoy !!

MARTIN; I notice that you have a website. Why does the art need a website ??

MH; The World Shim Jang Taekwondo Academy is a very diverse art with classes in many parts of the country and oversea’s. was established to keep our members and instructors up to date with any upcoming events or administration changes that may be taking place. The website is also a great way for anyone that is interested in the art to find out the necessary information to enable them to make an educated decision about joining. Our site is updated regularly by our Senior Instructors and it is freely available for all to see and enjoy.

In addition to the website we also produce a quarterly e-Magazine to keep our members up to date with all aspects of the art. In Nov/Dec of each year we provide all members with an Annual SJTKD Magazine that is a great keepsake for all members. The magazine is fully illustrated and has many photo’s and stories from classes, instructors and members throughout Australia and New Zealand, it’s a fun and educational read that our members can save for years many to come.

We also have a comprehensive DVD collection that specifically focuses on our members and instructors at various training camps and special training sessions that have been held around Australia and New Zealand.

MARTIN; Master Hicks how often do you still train and what is your personal routine ?

MH; As we get older our metabolism begins to slow and it becomes increasingly more difficult to keep the weight off and remain fit (I’m no different to anyone else on the planet) but as the Founder, Master Instructor and Leader of the organisation I believe that it is my special responsibility to keep myself in good shape in order to better represent the art, its instructors and students. Although I am now approaching 50 yrs old and am required to travel extensively I still spend about 15 – 20 hours each week on my personal fitness and TKD training. My personal training consists of a fast 5klm walk each morning followed by some stretching, pattern and bag-work. When I am in town I also get some regular sparring practice with my senior instructors, I find this keeps me both physically sharp and mentally alert to better enable me to fulfil my duties within the art of Shim Jang taekwondo.

MARTIN; Master Hicks, You are the Chief examiner for the W.S.T.A. What are the basic requirements for student promotion within the art?

MH; There is something special about seeing our member’s progress through the various levels in the art of Shim Jang Taekwondo. It gives me an immense amount of pride to be in a position to promote a student that has practised hard and is continuing to grow as a martial artist. This pride does not only extend toward our Students, I will never tire of seeing the expression of pride & satisfaction on the faces of our Instructor’s after their students perform well at the exams.

Our Branch Instructors are taught to approach the exams with a professional attitude, they understand that it is their obligation as an instructor to do their best to prepare their members for each exam and to provide some extra guidance if necessary. Our students are also taught that as it is the Instructors responsibility to teach it is also the student’s obligation to learn, disruptive behaviour is not tolerated at our classes and if a student is displaying an incorrect attitude they are advised to correct it or stay at home rather than interrupt the learning environment of the class. This way all members are given the utmost opportunity to succeed in the art and our instructors can prepare them properly for their exams.

There are basic requirements for promotion to each level in Shim Jang Taekwondo. Our Branch Instructors and their assistants are all highly skilled and well equipped to ensure that with regular training most members can progress through the various levels at regular intervals.

There are many things to take into account when promoting a student to the next level in the art; age, size, ability, attitude, focus, spirit and dedication to name just a few but as the Chief Examiner it is my special responsibility to uphold the arts reputation and technical standard. Therefore we have a minimum and maximum standard that is required to reach each given level. If a student does not reach the minimum standard for that level their promotion is postponed until they have met all necessary requirements. If a student performs above the maximum expectations they may be eligible for a higher promotion.

My responsibility is to ensure that the examinations are fair and the arts reputation as a style with high standards is maintained.

MARTIN; Are you the only one in the organisation that examines the students?

MH; In order for a consistent standard to be maintained it is always better to have the same person examine your technique each time, for this reason I spend much of my time travelling, examining and teaching the students from within our many regions. I also use the time and opportunity to communicate with, teach, advise and appoint the Branch Instructors from within those regions. Therefore, whenever possible, it is my duty to the organisation to attend all examinations.


Our art has an in-depth structure at the top end with some vastly experienced Taekwondo Practitioners that support the organisation on many levels. As a result the W.S.T.A has a great structure with plenty of back-up and this will ensure that our members will always receive top quality instruction, support and guidance during their training and at grading examinations.

MARTIN; How do you attract such talented and spirited people to the organisation.

MH; First of all it is not me that attracts them; they are initially attracted to the ART (and its teachings).

We have excellent Branch Instructors who display plenty of spirit and dedication; that is what initially attracts the new members to join our classes. Once the student begins to approach the senior ranks some of them begin to have ambitions to one day teach the art. They are then able to attend our “Instructor Licencing Program”, once completed they are issued with their Instructor Licence, this ensures that they posses the required skills and attitude for the important job of teaching the art of Shim Jang Taekwondo. Those that have met our Branch Instructor Requirements are always happy and excited to be a part of our wonderful “Family” of Instructors and of course this energy flows on to their members.

At Shim Jang TKD we do not just “throw” an instructor into a class and say “teach them”, this is a very dangerous practice, it is both unprofessional and very hard on the new instructor. At Shim Jang TKD we offer continuous guidance and support to our newly appointed instructors both on an instructional and promotional level, this way our instructors are assured of their future success and our members can be assured that they are getting first class, quality instruction at all times.

MARTIN; Master Hicks I notice that many Taekwondo styles require their members to use Korean terminology both during training and when addressing the Instructor etc, why doesn’t Shim Jang Taekwondo put so much emphasis on this ?

MH; It is true that Shim Jang Taekwondo (like all other styles of Taekwondo) has roots that extend back to Korea our name (Shim Jang) is a solid reflection of that fact but, like I have said before, we don’t live in Korea !!

Shim Jang Taekwondo is predominantly an Australia / New Zealand based self defence martial art school, we are not a foreign language school. Of course while studying Shim Jang Taekwondo our members do learn different Korean words from our instructors who do make it their business to have a basic knowledge of Korean commands but the Korean language is not part of our curriculum so if an instuctor uses a korean term he/she always backs it up in english.

Shim Jang Taekwondo is first and foremost about developing good health, respect, discipline and attaining a sound knowledge of skilful self defence, it doesn’t matter what country you are from in a way we all speak the same language. Taekwondo really is a universal art.

The way I see it is the more class time you spend learning other languages or turning your class into a history lesson or even practicing point scoring for tournaments the less time you are spending on technique and self defence, after all isn’t that why we started training in the first place ??

Our instructors are “Instructors” so why try to confuse the issue by calling them Sabums or Subumnim etc ? I don’t see any point in complicating things.


MARTIN; Master Hicks how does the way Shim Jang students train differ from that of other martial arts with regards to “free sparring”

MH; Sparring in Shim jang Taekwon-Do is different to that in most other Taekwon-Do schools. Instead of a points-based system while wearing protective equipment, the sparring is unscored, unarmoured, and controlled. This means that while attacks are executed with full power and full speed, they are also stopped just short of the opponent's body. This teaches greater control and also prevents the art from turning into a sport, where there are no students and no instructors, only fighters and referee’s.

MARTIN; Master Hicks, do you accept students from other martial art styles and if so do you honour their rank in that style ?

MH; As I have said before it sometime shows an incorrect attitude to bounce from one art to the other but I am also well aware that there can be many underlying reasons for this to happen so I do not judge anybody, my first concern is for the safety of our training members. (For example If I ask one of our senior members to assist a junior member, I can be assured (because of their rank) that the junior member will be in safe hands) However when a member comes to us from another school I am obviously unsure of their ability and attitude until I speak to them personally and see them in action, therefore I expect that student to train in the class separate from the other members until I have had the opportunity to assess them.

At Shim Jang TKD we have RPL (Recognition of Prior learning) affiliate members are usually placed at their current level or a level that is appropriate to their skills within this art. We do not “punish” affiliating students by making them start back at “white belt” nor do we “throw around promotions”.
For example; if you were a mechanic at a dealership and decided to go to another garage to work could the dealership from which you had resigned say you were no longer a qualified mechanic? (Of course not !!) Nobody can take away your life experience & what you have learnt, this is the 21st century and the day of the dictators is gone.

I have the utmost respect for anyone that has dedicated themselves to attaining a black belt in any art ! so if a “Black Belt” member comes to us from another taekwondo organisation I do, in most cases, recognise them as a “Black Belt” but it is important for the safety of our members and the credibility of the art that they familiarise themselves with our organisation and it’s expectations.

I guess there are some instructors and Black Belt members who, for one reason or another are not completely happy or satisfied with the situation that they are in; this is indeed an unfortunate position to find yourself in after years of training so if we can assist them to re-ignite their passion and get back involved in the martial arts of course that would be a good thing and we would be happy to discuss their situation and requirements.

However; being a Black Belt Member doesn’t automatically give you the right to teach Shim Jang taekwondo !!.

MARTIN; Shim Jang taekwondo is a very popular style, How do you see the Arts future ??

MH; My aim is not focussed on just GROW, GROW, GROW, Shim Jang taekwondo is my life and of course I want it to be successful but my ultimate aim is to help our members reap the many benefits that myself, my instructors and our families have experienced from the art over the years. I firmly believe that the secret to Shim Jang Taekwondo’s success is “our belief in what we teach” which extends not only to self defence but to our overall physical and mental well being. People spend thousands of dollars and many hours each year going to the gym, doing Aerobics, Pilates, Yoga etc and of course all these things are good for our health and well being. My aim is for Shim Jang Taekwondo to become the popular, low cost alternative that is available for everyone to enjoy. Regular training in the art can teach us some very important skills and one of the arts many benefits is its self defence curriculum, I am sure it can only be a good thing for our society if everyone possessed some self defence skills.

This doesn’t mean that we should all become “World Champions” believe me “Some Self Defence Skills are better than “No Self Defence Skills”

Of course some of our senior students, when the time is right, move into the Instructional side of the art, my responsibility as the Master of the art is to support them in doing so & of course the art will naturally grow. The main focus however must always be to provide Top quality, Professional Instruction to all who wish to learn. It is also important to position our centres so that they are readily available for people to access but Shim Jang Taekwondo has no plans to establish a Dojang on every corner (“far from it”).

MARTIN RUTTER; Thank you for the Interview Master Hicks.