Teaching tae kwon do is to prepare people for competition in the streets, not in the ring, says chief master instructor John Smolcic.
A practitioner for 42 years, the 8th Dan Black Belt leads classes at Moon Lee Tae Kwon Do Centre in Dandenong.
Most people take up the traditional self-defence martial art for fitness and confidence, Mr Smolcic said.
Some of his students enter the police force, others are managers, nurses, doctors and teachers.
Where there is trouble, the best advice is to walk away safely, Mr Smolcic says.
“Martial arts isn’t about being mean and tough.
“No, we’re about good character, good confidence and self-discipline.
“The most important thing is to be confident and defuse the situation where we can.
“If you’ve got no confidence, you can’t fight.”
If someone draws a knife, you’re best to walk away and not “die a hero”.
Mr Smolcic learnt his craft under 80-year-old Grand Master Moon Lee, who started the centre in 1974.
His mentor still trains and grades him to this day.
It runs classes for all ages and levels.
The centre won plenty of championships in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s but it’s not the focus now, he says.
“Our main competition is out on the street rather than the ring.”
Moon Lee Tae Kwon Do Centre is in 19 Bennet Street, Dandenong. Details: 9706 9211.