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Mildenhall's Joe Mclaughlin secures black belt in tae kwon-do

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When Joe Mclaughlin rediscovered his passion for martial arts training in 2014, he never expected to progress to a tae kwon-do black belt in just five years.

But that is what the 69-year-old Mildenhall resident has achieved, with the Mildenhall Tae Kwon-Do School pupil one of 15 to gain their black belt grades at an exam session held in Bristol last month.

Mclaughlin performed in front of five 9th Dan Grand Masters to achieve his black belt grading.

69-year-old Mildenhall man earns black belt in Taekwondo at Mark Farnham Schools (20932647)
69-year-old Mildenhall man earns black belt in Taekwondo at Mark Farnham Schools (20932647)

The Mark Farnham Schools of Tae Kwon-Do have had a lot of success and these latest passes bring the number to achieve their black belts to an incredible 544 over the last 32 years.

Mclaughlin, who originally hails from Coleraine in Northern Ireland, moved to Mildenhall 45 years ago and, after seeing an advert in a local paper, took up kuk sool won; a traditional Korean martial art that utilises weapons.

He said he achieved his black belt in 1994, at 44 years old, before stopping training; he said he ‘fell out of love with it a bit’.

But, after again seeing an advert in a local paper in 2014, he decided to try tae kwon-do; and the rest, he said, ‘is history’.

“It was definitely not the intention to get a black belt when I thought about trying a martial art again,” he said. “I just wanted to get back training. But it’s great to have done it, it is quite an achievement.

“And I suppose I now have black belts in two martial arts which is great. Although kuk sool won and tae kwon-do are completely different, I did have a grounding in martial arts, I’m sure that has helped.

“Training has certainly helped to keep me fit and healthy for my age as well. There’s a minimum of two years for the next level (2nd Dan) so we will have to wait and see if I’m going to get it.”

He added he is ‘very grateful’ to Larry Day (4th Dan), who is his instructor at the Mildenhall Tae Kwan-Do School.