Setting Solid Foundations: 1979 - 1986
Mike starts training in taekwondo at Goldthorpe Taekwondo Club, attains his black belt, and goes on to set up St. Andrews Taekwondo Club at Bolton-On-Dearne. Korean Master Tong Wan Shin becomes a major influence in improving Mike's technical and sparring skills.
Read Full Chapter
Mike McKenzie started training in Taekwondo in March 1979 at Goldthorpe Taekwondo Club part of the British Taekwondo Association. The Club instructor was Andrew Kennedy and the Chief instructor and grading examiner was Master Tony Quigley - one of the pioneers of British Taekwondo. Mike trained regularly at Goldthorpe and attained the rank of Black belt in December 1982. At Goldthorpe Mike learned the discipline and strength required to be a great Taekwondo practitioner.
Goldthorpe was a large well attended club with some talented members both as instructors and competitors, many other local clubs were founded by Goldthorpe members. Despite the obvious talent within the club the members failed to achieve their potential. This was due to inactivity with 2 competitions a year the norm, a lack of progressive training and also the BTA had been replaced as national governing Body by the BTCB.
In 1986, aged 18 years and a 2nd Dan Black belt, Mike left the Goldthorpe club and with Tim Gosling and supported by other black belts set up St.Andrew’s Taekwondo Club. The club was based in Bolton on Dearne. Tim was the senior instructor who introduced Mike to Taekwondo beyond the doors of the church hall at Goldthorpe. They invited Master Tong Wan Shin to be grading Examiner. This was the first time Mike had trained with a Korean Taekwondo Master. Master Shin was a major influence in Mike’s early Taekwondo career improving his technical and sporting skills. Master Shin was Chief Instructor of the United Taekwondo Association of which Mike was part of until 1992.
On a Mission: 1987 - 1992
Following life-changing travelling to teach taekwondo to under-privilege kids in New York, Mike returns to the UK to establish Quest Taekwondo in the same year that taekwondo features for the first time in the Olympic Games. The 1988 Seoul Olympic Games has a profound impact and leads to the opening of more Quest venues and the development of the Quest Mission Statement, "To give all Quest members the ability and opportunity to develop to their full potential both as Taekwondoists and people".
Read Full Chapter
In 1987, after completing A-levels, Mike travelled to the USA as part of the Camp America scheme. Mike worked as a camp counsellor teaching varied sports and activities including Taekwondo to under-privileged kids aged 7 -14 years from New York. This experience had a profound effect on Mike as it was equally challenging, emotionally draining, physically exhausting and incredibly rewarding.
When the Camp finished, Mike travelled the East Coast of America and saw for the first time evidence of “professional/full time instructors”. In the UK Master Shin and Tony Slaney* were the only full time Taekwondo Instructors Mike was aware of.
On returning to the UK, Mike was faced with the prospect of finding a job or starting a career. At this time there were 3 million people unemployed in the UK and the Dearne Valley and surrounding areas were still devastated by the collapse of the mining and steel industries. Mike began planning to set up a Taekwondo business as an Instructor. Aged only 20, he knew he would have to move into new territories away from the well-established Doncaster and Dearne Valley clubs.
Quest Taekwondo 1988
At 20 years of age, and on the governments Enterprise Allowance Scheme, Mike established Quest Taekwondo. The first classes were in Ilkley and Skipton in June 1988. Few people in the Taekwondo or business community took Mike seriously. At this time he couldn’t even drive and was travelling 750 miles a week, catching 4 trains a day, but with the support of his family he persevered. The first class at Ilkely was attended by only two people; Skipton was slightly better with four (3 of whom got to Black Belt!). The same year that Quest was established Taekwondo featured for the first time in the Olympic Games. Seoul 1988 showcased Taekwondo with a magnificent Taekwondo exhibition in the opening ceremony, featuring 1000 Taekwondo black belts. Taekwondo was introduced to the world as a demonstration sport. (Master Lee Kyu-Hyung** was in charge of the demonstration, Master Kook Hyun Chung*** was the outstanding Taekwondo athlete of the games).
The Games had a profound impact, first one of frustration. Though Mike had been training consistently for almost 10 years he had no chance of getting into the GB team as he was in the wrong organization and had never had the right coaching advice or opportunity. This lead to the Quest Mission statement – “To give all Quest members the ability and opportunity to develop to their full potential both as Taekwondoists and people”.
The second effect was that Taekwondo was now much more than an indigenous Korean martial art; it was a world sport and with this came the realization that Taekwondo presented a very exciting future. Through hard work and determination and with the support of some truly enthusiastic members, Quest began to grow into being a strong club. New venues opened in Baildon and Dewsbury.
Hard Work and Determination Lead to Success: 1992 - 1997
Mike takes Quest into the BTCB , qualifies as a Kup Grade Examiner and, now a 4th Dan black belt, is appointed GB Team Manager, is elected onto the BTCB Executive Committee, and qualifies as a WTF International Referee. In 1994, and on a historic day for taekwondo, Mike is part of a small group of BTCB representatives who attended the 103rd IOC Congress in Paris at which taekwondo was made a full programme sport for the Sydney Olympic Games 2000.
Read Full Chapter
In 1992 Mike took Quest into the British Taekwondo Control Board. That year Mike also qualified as a Kup grade Examiner and was now a 4th Dan black belt. The Olympic Games in Barcelona featured taekwondo, again as a demonstration sport, with 2 female athletes representing GB; Kathy Walker and Sarah Broadbent, with Peter Adamsons as GB Team Manager.
In 1993 an American named Brett Mouldenhauer visited family in Dewsbury. Brett was an assistant coach with the US Taekwondo National team and he visited Quest Taekwondo – Dewsbury. Mike wanted to give more people the chance to train with Brett so he contacted Gary Sykes - GB Team trainer Seoul 1988 - and Pete Adamsons. Both hosted training sessions with Brett after which Peter invited Mike to work with him on the management of the GB Women’s team.
Between 1994 and 1997 Mike and Pete worked together during one of the most successful and eventful periods of British Taekwondo history. They were instrumental in bringing together outside taekwondo organisations into a unified team.
In 1994 Mike began to travel internationally with the GB team. Although the men’s and women’s team were initially coached and managed separately, this changed in 1994 when Pete was appointed National Coaching Director and Mike GB Team Manager. Also in 1994, Mike was elected onto the BTCB Executive Committee and qualified as a WTF International Referee. Despite receiving no funding, Great Britain was emerging as a major power within European Taekwondo and also on the World stage.
As GB Team Manager, Mike attended British Olympic Association Coaches and Managers Advisory Group sessions where he was introduced the some of the greats of British Sport. Unfortunately, Taekwondo was not to feature in the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.
In September 1994 Mike was a member of a small group of BTCB representatives who attended the 103rd IOC Congress in Paris at which Taekwondo was made a full programme sport for the Sydney Olympic Games 2000. This was an historic day for Taekwondo and a massive achievement for the World Taekwondo Federation, lead at that time by President Un Yong Kim.
In 1997 Mike was the Executive Director of the Un Yong Kim Cup in Birmingham. The event was an “Open World Championship” held at the NIA in honour of Dr. Kim the man responsible for leading Taekwondo into the Games. Over 500 athletes came from all over the Europe and other continents for 3 days of competition. The Cup was the first Taekwondo event to be filmed in the UK and be broadcast on Eurosport.
A young girl named Sarah Stevenson made her international debut for Great Britain at this event. After the event, Mike stood down as GB Team Manager and as an Executive Committee member, and turned his focus back on to growing the Quest Organisation.
Back to Basics and the growth of the Quest Taekwondo Organisation: 1997 - 2009
Quest continues to expand and Mike continues to develop his qualifications and experience, travelling to Korea in 2002 to complete the International Instructor Course and attain his 6th Dan qualification. Mike leads Quest in national and international events, hosts Korean team visits, and renews his International Referee qualification.
Read Full Chapter
Quest continued to expand with new clubs in Liverpool, and Mike was also helping to set up Taekwondo in the Isle of Man. In 1998 Mike organized the Tri-Nations Cup; a home international competition between England, Scotland and Ireland held in the Isle of Man. This was filmed and broadcast on Sky Sports, as was the event 'Home Nations Challenge' the following year featuring England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Mike continued to work as Chief instructor of Quest and developing his own qualifications and experience. In 2002 Mike travelled to Korea to Kukkiwon where he took part in the International Instructor Course and also took his 6th Dan grading exam, fulfilling a lifetime goal.
In 2003 Mike opened the Quest Fitness & Martial Arts Studio in Parkgate, Rotherham. In addition to taekwondo there were various fitness and Yoga classes, and Mike also worked with Master Cris Janson-Piers to qualify as a BFKKO Kick Boxing instructor. Cris offered Mike help and advice which proved invaluable to his wider martial arts career.
Quest participated in national and international events, hosted Korean team visits including the Korean National Demonstration Team and one trip with over 100 Korean children. Korean student Young Moon Cho was based at the Studio for 6 months.
In 2009 Mike renewed his International Referee qualification and was the first person to referee a final at the U-21 European Championships in Vigo, Spain. He went on to referee the same event in the Ukraine. In 2010 Mike was invited by BTCB Chairman and Technical Director - Adrian Tranter - to join the National Technical Team responsible for Dan grade promotions and national seminars. In that year he also took his 7th Dan examination.
The Opportunity of a Lifetime: 2009 - 2012
Mike is invited by BTCB Chairman, Adrian Tranter, to join the National Technical Team, and also attains 7th Dan status. In 2011 he is then achieves the role of Technical Operations Manager for the London 2012 Olympic Games Taekwondo Event, later being promoted to Sports Manager responsible for actual delivery of the whole event. The event is hailed as a tremendous success of the Games.
Read Full Chapter
In 2011 Mr. Andrew Link, Sport Manager for Taekwondo at the London Olympic Games, asked Mike to interview for the role of Technical Operations Manager for London 2012. In February of that year Mike moved to Docklands in London and worked full time in this role. The role included working closely with Andrew on issues such as the event schedule, equipment, rules and regulations and working with the WTF over LOCOG functional areas and other organisations.
In July 2012, Mike was promoted to Sport Manager, and was responsible for the actual delivery of the London Olympic Games 2012 Taekwondo Event.
The games were a tremendous success thanks to Andrew and Mike’s work, and new developments in the sport featured for the first time in the Olympics-instant video replay, personal scoring system (Electronic body pads for scoring). Rule changes made the contests more spectacular and the many different countries winning medals made it successful for all.
INSPIRE A GENERATION
This was the message of London 2012 and Mike’s new focus. Working as Quest Chief Instructor and as a member of British Taekwondo’s Martial Art Technical Team, Mike will continue to work as a leading figure in British and World Taekwondo.
* Tony Slaney was BTCB Chairman at this time and was head of the dan grading panel amongst other roles.
** Mike had the honour of hosting a visit of the Korean national demonstration team lead by Master Lee Kyu-Hyung.
*** Mike met Master Kook- Hyun Chung at the World Olympic Qualifier in Azerbaijan in 2011. Mike got to spend valuable time with him and they met again at London 2012.