Doug: So it’s been quite a while since we’ve done any of the instructor interviews, so I thought we’d do our very own Conor Lucas who has worked in the shop for a good couple of years now. You can find out all about Connor, it’ll give you a chance to find out all about him, and if you call up the shop or you come to the shop, you’ll know who you’re talking to.
First question is how you got into martial arts.
Connor: So I started martial arts, I actually started Judo, to start off with. I think it was just advertised at a leisure centre. So I got sent to it. I did a couple of lessons, but I think it was more of a creche kind of thing. Did the same with Taekwondo and that didn’t work out, so I was only there for a little bit. Then, I think my mom was walking home from the shops one day saw a leaflet for Dragon Tang Soo Do at the Community Centre. And yeah, I started that when I was about seven and I’ve basically been there ever since. 19 years now, quite a long time.
Doug: So obviously, you’ve kind of grown up with it, So very used to just training day in day out, but what is it still love about it that makes you keep training? Because a lot of people will do that as a kid and then when they hit their teens they drop off or, you know, maybe, I mean, we see a lot in the shop of people coming back to stuff after a twenty year gap. So you’re quite an oddity in a way that you’ve stayed with it.
Connor: Yeah, no, definitely. I think the answer kind of changes throughout the years. At one point it will just be most people start off at the white belt and they can say ‘I want to get to black. Especially people who are my age 14 to 18-19, there’s loads of other stuff in life that sort of pops up and people sort of disappear. For people I started with have kind of gone and I kind of wanted to do the same, I got to a certain point and my mom saying “Come on, let’s get to Black Belt. Once you get to your black belt, you can potentially think about quitting and so there you go.” That’s the goal is to get to here. And when you get there, I ended up entering world competitions and doing quite well and your peer group kind of changes. So like mates weren’t people were my age, people older than me and you kind of stay for that and then it’s like, okay, well now I’m helping out the class and you kind of stay for that. So the answer kind of changes, I think that’s just the natural progression in martial arts. When you get a black belt, you’re kind of not done learning, but you’re done learning the basics, and now it’s your job to help other people. I think that’s why some people struggle because they get to Black Belt and go “I’m not learning anything now, it’s a bit stagnant and want to go off and do other things or whatever.” So I fully have had that experience myself, but I’ve stayed just because of other people and you do get to that certain point, and that’s like, oh, actually, I’ve crept up and I’m a second Dan now. Now you’ve got new stuff to learn, people in class need help and there’s competitions and yeah, just sort of carried on through loving it. You do appreciate it, for what it is, I love the people, I love my instructor and stay for those things, I enjoy it and I think it’s more focus for me. It’s part of my life and I’ve done it more in my life than I have not in my life. I stay for multiple reasons, but I love it at the end of the day. Its main reason.
Doug: Just if people haven’t heard Tan Soo Do, it’s not particularly well known style. It’s not one of the big ones necessarily. There’s a lot more of it in Bristol than there are other cities. We’ve had people in here that have said “I can’t believe you’ve got Tang Soo here. It’s crazy. It doesn’t exist in Norfolk or wherever. Just none of it.”
Connor: The majority of the time I say customers when they do come in, who aren’t really clued up on martial arts. They go “what do you do” and normally I say Karate, and its because it’s a Korean form of karate or people say “what style” and you say Tang Soo Do and they don’t know it so you say it’s very similar to Taekwondo, and they . It’s quite big in Bristol. We used to have about 14 clubs all across Bristol. But being in Tang Soo Do, you do start branching out and now we’ve got people up in workshop and people over in Spain and Holland and stuff like that where they’re all kind of interlinked. But yeah, it isn’t one of the most well known things. Probably most well known for having Chuck Norris in it. And then he’s well known for being the hardest man in the planet.
Doug: Cool. So what’s your plans with your training and what’s the plans like for the future?
Connor: So at the moment I’m currently a third Dan. I’m going for my fourth Dan masters in October so we’re recording this in September. So if you come into the shop after this has come out, after October, I’ve either failed or passed. And I think once I’ve done that, potentially opening up a club with one of my good friends who have done it with for years, I think we’re going to open up a club here in Bristol. And yeah, I’ve trained with quite a few different clubs, not just in Tang Soo Do, with kickboxing and MMA. I’d like to get back into those and I like to train a bit of Thai but at the moment, I want to solely focus on my Tang Soo Do to get myself to fourth Dan, open up a club and then I can kind of broaden my horizons and train at other places while also maintaining my own club. That’s the kind of goal. I think I owe that to my instructor who’s trained me for years and years. I think once you get to that level, your job then is to pass on the knowledge, so open up a club is kind of the next logical step. I think once you get to your fourth Dan.
Doug: So for those who maybe met you in the shop or spoke to you on the phone, how did you get involved with the shop? How did it start?
Connor: I basically used to be the Saturday boy, back when I was 17-18. Yeah, I needed a Saturday job and I trained in martial arts. I was here for about a year and a half or so. Maybe one or two days a week, then I’ve gone off of work for multiple different companies and then became a manager in retail. I was doing shoes at one point and then I was doing high end jewellery at another point and all of it was not really what I was passionate about. I was passionate about martial arts, and I saw you advertising, during COVID and thought, actually let’s go back there. I’ve been in job probably three years now. So yeah, it’s been wicked. It’s another reason to reignite your love for martial arts because you don’t just speak to people who do just your thing. You speak to people who do loads of loads and loads of different martial arts whether it is slightly more sporty based like you’re boxing or MMA or, people who do really traditional stuff like Tai Chi and Kung Fu. You can just listen to everyone’s perspective on certain things and why they love it, it kind of reignites your love for all things martial arts. So yeah, I basically get to stand in here and sometimes we end up having customers come in who just chat to us for hours on end just about training. People start talking about training and travelling and stuff like this, it’s wicked to hear loads of stories. If you’re into martial arts this, this job, probably one of the best ones you can possibly do. So yeah, sucks for you though, because I’ve got it.
Doug: Cool, thanks very much. No worries. Any questions for Connor drop them in the comments
Connor: I’ll be the one replying to them. So yeah, any questions drop me a message. Drop. Drop us a comment. Or give us a phone call? Yeah, I’m probably gonna be answering so this interview goes out on the mailing list. So we have a mailing list and we send out stuff all the time and then every quarter we send out like a big newsletter which this goes on. So yeah, if you want to be part of that, on the website, or drop us an email, and yet we’ll stick on it.