Chongshin Do is one of the more obscure and challenging of martial arts. Originating in Korea, it can be loosely defined as an amalgamation of a variety of different martial art disciplines, including jiu-jitsu, taekwondo, and aikido. It can be extremely challenging and is certainly not the faint-hearted. Which is what makes the achievements of British Martial Arts Teacher Richard Russell all the more impressive.

British Martial Arts Teacher – Richard Russell

Richard lives in Birmingham, UK, and is 71 years old. But unlike other Brits of his vintage, he is not passing his time doing some gardening or playing bridge. Instead, he has spent the last 21 years learning and teaching Chongshin Do in his home city.

His story starts at the age of 50 with a trip to the doctors. He was suffering from high blood pressure. When he asked what he should do to get rid of it, the answer was ‘exercise’. It happened that a few days previously a leaflet had dropped through his letterbox from his local Chongshin Do club. Richard decided this was an omen and the following weekend he headed down to the club to take a look.

British Martial Arts Teacher

Before Retirement

Having worked as a lorry driver before retirement, Richard was not used to strenuous physical activity. As he told the British newspaper the Daily Express, he found it very hard going at the start.

“I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. And it was hard because I was already 50,” he explained. “But I’m a stubborn old bugger and I’ve been going back ever since.”

It proved to be the start of a life-changing journey. Twenty-one years on, he has reached new heights in his discipline. But he has had to fight against the odds to do so.

Five years ago, Richard cracked a bone in his neck whilst performing Chongshin Do. As he was 66 years old at the time, it is perhaps little wonder that his doctor suggested he might want to spend his time doing something a little more relaxing. But Richard was having none of that. After making a full recovery, he was quickly back at his Chongshin Do club, working hard to achieve his goal.

And then last year, he travelled to the town of Woking, in the south of the UK, to try out for his second dan black belt. After a strict training session and assessment which lasted more than five hours, Richard was finally awarded his belt.

British Martial Arts Teacher

Still Training And Teaching British Martial Arts

Needless to say, he was elated at the achievement. “At the time that I passed the examination I just thought I’d done it and it didn’t really sink in,” he said in typically understated fashion. “It was only when they gave me the belt that I felt really chuffed.”

But despite securing the belt that he has been working towards for so many years, Richard is still not planning to quit Chongshin Do anytime soon. He has scaled back fighting in tournaments himself and is instead focused on his work as a trainer and instructor of British Martial Arts at the club.

Whilst he trains people of all ages, Richard says he has yet to come across anyone as old as himself. “The youngest pupil is a young boy of four, who comes along with his mum,” he said. [But] I haven’t come across anyone near my age though. Most people have given up before they get as old as me.”

British Martial Arts Teacher

Oldest British Martial Arts Teacher?

The UK media is speculating about whether Richard is the oldest British Martial Arts teacher. This may well be the case, but whether he is or not, his story is a hugely inspirational one. No-one sums it up better than Richard’s own instructor, and friend, Gary Taylor.

“[Richard] is the type of guy who never blows his own trumpet, very quiet, but he is truly inspirational. They say that only one percent of people achieve a black belt in their lifetime, [so] his second dan black belt is an amazing achievement… Even at 71 years old, he can hold his own against students half his age, proving that age is merely a number”.

The other lesson from this story should be that even in adversity, and against the odds, martial arts can be used by people from all walks of life, and all over the world, to change their life for the better. Richard Russell is an example to everyone of what we can achieve with commitment and hard work.

British Martial Arts Teacher
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