Miss Marie Udall

Miss Marie Udall 2nd Degree Story

Hello, My name is Marie Udall, but you can call me Maz. I'm assuming that the majority of people reading this, won't have a clue who I am, so let me introduce myself.
I'm a 30 year old cat Mum, who is currently living in Chester. I am moving to Thailand in July and I am a primary school teacher by trade. I am a chatterbox and I'm pretty sure Mr Salt will regret asking me to write this because it'll probably go on and on and on... There, that's the pleasantries over with. Now onto, why on earth, a 30 year old teacher from Chester, is writing for a Tae Kwon Do newsletter?

Well for that story (get yourselves comfortable) we will have to go back 21 years.... Our story begins in the little town of Leek, and a 9 year old Maz was moving up to middle school. Now something that you need to know about me, is that I, am in fact....a crier. Still to this day, I cry all the time. I cry if I'm happy, I cry if I'm sad, I cry if I see a nice advert on the TV! So as a sensitive, little country bumpkin moving up to middle school, I was obviously a little nervous. I won't name names, but at the time, this middle school was based in the centre of the worst part of town, and was, lets say, a little dodgy. What preceded to happen over the next few years, was bullying and I was unfortunately on the receiving end quite frequently.

After months and months of me trying to skive off school with the usual tricks of "I'm not very well Mum, I can't go to school" and my Mum's typical, "Mum Response" of a kiss on the cheek, and a kick up the bum "Into school you go", (My Mum would have sent me to school on a broken leg, and told me to "Walk it off") it eventually got to the point, where my parents didn't really know what to do with me.

One day and I don't know who's idea this was, but they decided to take me to, wait for it, you guessed it, TAE KWON DO!?! The crying kid? Let's send her to get kicked and punched in the face? Great idea?! Don't worry, their reasoning wasn't so I could beat the bullies up, (wink wink) it was to improve my self esteem and to build my confidence and hopefully stop me from crying all the time!?

I remember turning up to my first ever lesson. It was in this old building, at the top of a very steep hill, The Maude Institute (I think it's now Genetix Gym) and being greeted by the legend that is Mrs Sue Salt! She was sitting at this little desk just outside the hall, and she had a halogen heater next to her feet and a smile on her face. She was so welcoming and made me feel a lot less nervous. After explaining that I had to take off my shoes, I entered the hall and immediately got a splinter from the bare hardwood floor (I'm pretty sure I probably cried). In the Dojang were, what I considered to be, power rangers and ninjas that I was instantly in awe of. At the front of the hall was a man that looked like James Bond, and that was it! I was sold! This was now my favourite thing in the world to do.

I started going every week, then twice a week, then three times, and the "Mr James Bond" who was obviously Mr Dennis Salt, one day had an in house competition. I was about a yellow belt, and it was to win a poster! Something else that you need to know about me, is I am extremely competitive. It is definitely off my Dad, who to this day, never lets me win anything! So this tiny competition with about 10 people in it, ended up being quite a big turning point in my life. I ended up winning that bright yellow poster (and decorated my entire bedroom canary yellow and blue to really frame it!?) and it had pride of place at the end of my bed for years. This tiny competition that Mr Salt probably decided to do in his blue subaru 5 minutes before he got into class, sparked a new love of competitions that ended up changing my entire life. From one of my colour belt gradings, Mr Bradshaw has spotted some potential in me, and asked if I would like to go to the England Squad training? To be honest, I had no idea what I was getting involved in, but luckily my parents were very supportive and for the next 5 years drove me around the country to enter competitions and train.

Miss Marie Udall

Tae Kwon Do became my everything. I lived, breathed, slept TKD and training for my Black Belt went from 3 times a week to 5 times a week. I made friends, I brought friends with me and I even found a few boyfriends from Tae Kwon Do. I passed my black belt, and very much like passing your driving test, that is actually when you "start" to learn? This is when my TKD life truly began!

I am going to be honest with you, I was never the strongest, or the most flexible, the quickest or even the most confident (I still cried all the time). To start with, I lost quite a lot of fights, but I just kept going. The perseverance and indomitable spirit were tenets always ringing in my ears, so I just kept turning up. Every now and again I'd win some kind of medal and eventually some of the UKITF coaches started to recognise me (and not just as the "crying kid"). In 2005 I was invited to the Irish Championships in Cork and that was where my mindset changed. I got knocked out, I'm pretty sure twice, in my sparring final, got back up and went on to win the competition!

From here, I was fortunate enough to be selected to represent the girls UKITF team and fly out to Australia for the World Championships. I lost my first fight individually against a German girl, but ended up winning every round as part of the team. We came back from that competition with a Gold Medal and 2 Silvers. The following year the World Championships were in the UK, which was a big deal for all of us. I was fortunate enough to qualify for every category, individual sparring, patterns and special technique as well as being on the girls team again. I somehow managed to medal in every event and came back with a staggering 3 Bronze medal, 1 Silver medal and 3 Gold medal haul?!

As well as my competing career, part of my Tae Kwon Do life had always included teaching. Even being a kid myself, I knew that I loved working with children. I was always one of the first people to teach the newbies and I even had the pleasure of teaching Mr Finch on his first ever lesson (his front snap kicks on the pads nearly broke my arm off). From the age of 16, Mr Salt gave me my own Little Puma classes in Leek, Fenton and Stone and I was given the Little Puma coordinator role at national competitions. This was the start of my professional career and was the spark for my love of teaching and coaching. At 18 I went to university to get a degree in Primary Education and that is where I had to choose. I failed a year at Uni and it was because I was trying to do too much. Training had to take a back seat and I officially hung up my Dobok after winning best overall female at the Battle of Britain night in 2008.

Tae Kwon Do shaped me into the person I am today. This is a fact. It has shown me that if you work hard, make a load of mistakes and have the right mindset, then the world is literally your oyster. If it wasn't for TKD I wouldn't be doing my job or have gone to University. I wouldn't have half of the friends that I do, and the huge life experiences that I have lived. I owe everything to that bully in middle school, because it ended up changing my life for the better. I believe everything happens for a reason, and hopefully one day, that will mean an end to my retirement too.

Tae Kwon

Miss Marie Udall