The history of many Martial Arts schools is often also very much the story of the journey of its senior ranks, and Tigers Taekwondo is no different. Tigers has grown and changed since 1994, thanks largely to the contributions of its senior ranks by setting a high standard for the students who have since followed along the path to black belt.
Ruth Brown and Jessica Rankin were our Dojang’s first two black belts, grading in 1999. Five more students achieved first Dan in 2000, and in 2001 another five students undertook Dan gradings. Since those earliest generations we have seen more than 120 Tigers Dojang’s students complete black belt examinations. Alex Jeffkins is our Dojang’s first student to grade to 5th Dan (master rank) after many years of training, and Madeline Thorpe, Gary Thorpe and Linda Huggins have all achieved 4th Dan black belt. Gary has also made an enormous contribution to the club over many years both in administration and his teaching roles. Thanks to the example of our senior ranks, Tigers Dojangs have a continuing culture of consistent good effort and attitude in training.
Chief Instructor Mr Tim Huggins is now 6th Dan rank in Taekwondo, but as with every student, started somewhere as a beginner. Tim began his training journey in Judo in 1980 under Mr Peter (Neng) Tan, owner of Tans Martial Arts Supplies, founder of the Phnom Doun Penh Martial Arts club and a skilled Sensei in Judo and Sabomnim in Taekwondo. Mr Tan had also trained in Bokator (a Cambodian style of kickboxing similar to Thai kickboxing) and Shotokan Karate as a younger man in Cambodia, so Tim’s development was strongly influenced by an appreciation for a wide range of martial arts styles. Sabomnim Tim travelled to Korea in 1990 to grade for his black belt, and was issued a Korean Taekwondo Association first Dan certificate in that year.
In 1992 Sabomnim Tim began training Taekwondo under the guidance of Mr Rod Black, founder of Black Taekwondo and a skilled sports fighting instructor and former Australian champion. Sabomnim Tim gained much of his sports fighting skills and experience in the rich training environment of one of Melbourne’s top fighting clubs of the time. Macleod YMCA was the home of one of the very first Ju-jitsu schools in Melbourne, and also has a long established Karate school. Black Taekwondo started a branch at the YMCA in 1992, initially under Mr Rod Black, and in 1994 Sabomnim Tim took over instructing at the branch. When Tim graded to 4th Dan in 1999 he founded the school name of Banyule Tigers Dojang. In 2000 he became a fully independent instructor and along with Mr Peter Vandelaarschot formed Tigers Taekwondo, incorporating Banyule Tigers Dojang and Casey Tigers Dojang. Mr Vandelaarschot later ceased instructing, and in 2005 Mr Huggins formed a sister club at the Kinglake West Hall; Mountain Tigers Dojang.
Tim has won numerous state and national Taekwondo titles in both sparring and poomsae, and represented Australia in sparring at the US Open, Dutch Open, Belgian Open and Singapore Open Championships. Tim has also worked full time in the martial arts industry in retail martial arts supplies, as a publisher/editor of a niche industry magazine called Impact Martial Arts Magazine, and as a fulltime Taekwondo and Self Defence in Schools instructor.
Tigers Dojang’s have a core team of experienced instructors and a number of assistant instructors (All our Dojang’s probationary Black Belts are required to contribute teaching assistance). All our instructors must undergo certified first aid training, have current Working With Children Checks and many have other Taekwondo, martial arts and sports qualifications. Many of our Dojang’s students and instructors are also current or former state and/or national champions, and some also have represented Australia in international competition.
Our philosophy towards teaching includes imparting a broad range of skills and attitudes. We focus on all aspects of Taekwondo including the sports fighting style that appears in the Olympics, self-defence, traditional Taekwondo actions, and overall personal development. Our self-defence syllabus reflects a ‘Reality-Based’ approach to personal safety that gives our students access to a world-class training system. We also place great importance of the correct use of these actions, emphasising violence is to be used as a last resort and we teach other methods of dealing with conflict including situational awareness, defusing/negotiating, safe compliance and verbal skills. Our club imparts discipline, patience and commitment as well as the skills to lead and work well in a group.
Taekwondo is appropriate for all ages with specialised classes for under 12 year olds and over 12 year olds, and Tigers has an inclusive friendly atmosphere for older adults, as well as mixed classes for all ages. Classes may also be separated into belt levels so teaching can be appropriate for the experience level of the students. Contact sparring is not compulsory and is taught in separate classes for those who want to take part in the full contact side of the sport, as well as dedicated self-defence and traditional forms classes.
Tigers Taekwondo prides itself on having an open and friendly family environment, and encourages families to train together where possible.