Sport is ‘saving grace’

FOR Rhee International Tae Kwon Do instructor Kevin Johnston, martial arts is more than just a means of self defence, it is a vessel to fight his demons.

Rhee Tae Kwon Do will host its first annual come and try day on Saturday at Kurnai College’s Maryvale campus during Mental Health Week.

The day will double as a fundraiser for Beyond Blue, and Johnston said the discipline had been a saving grace in his own personal battle with depression.

“I don’t know where I’d be without it really,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter how good you’re doing or what you do you still feel like nothing sometimes if you suffer from that sort of thing and this is a good positive activity.”

Johnston took up the sport in 1983 with a group of friends and has been an instructor for 12 years.

Now a senior instructor at four of the club’s nine locations throughout the Latrobe Valley, Johnston has immersed himself in soccer, music, motorbikes as well as tae kwon do over the years as a self-help measure.

“It all helps if you’re involved in those activities and this is one really positive thing that has helped me,” he said.

“It gives you goals and something to improve yourself and it gives you self confidence.

“A lot of people with depression turn to alcohol and drugs and that sort of thing but if you’re in a sporting atmosphere where you need to keep fit and active, you kind of watch your lifestyle.”

The open day will allow newcomers an opportunity to learn some basic movements and engage in non-contact sparring as an introduction.

Johnston said the stretching, balance and coordination aspects of the discipline may also be of interest to people.

“Mostly it’s about getting people involved in something positive and giving them something to look forward to and something to improve themselves,” he said.

“It’s about personal development; you train at your own level and pace and everyone can achieve the same goal.”

The training session and demonstration will commence at 10am and finish about 1pm.

The cost is a gold coin donation and a free barbecue will follow.