Triumph for Watton Taekwondo master

Just five years ago he was told be would never be able to bend down far enough to put his socks on again after osteoarthritis forced him to have both hips replaced at the age of just 42.

Just five years ago he was told be would never be able to bend down far enough to put his socks on again after osteoarthritis forced him to have both hips replaced at the age of just 42.

But thanks to the steely determination and mental and physical strength that more than 30 years of dedication to Taekwondo has given him, a Norfolk police sergeant has fought his way to the top of his chosen martial art.

Kevin Jervis, who is a sergeant based with the policing team at Watton, has achieved his seventh dan black belt in Taekwondo.

The grading is the fulfilment of a life long goal for the 47-year-old, and it places him in the higher echelons of the sport.

Currently only half a dozen people in the UK hold a seventh dan.

“When you decide you are going to get this you have to train hard and I started training specifically for this a year ago,” said Mr Jervis.

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“I went for it in April and was unlucky despite training every day, so I upped the training and started practicing twice a day when I could.

“When I heard them say I had achieved it that was a big relief. I just cannot describe how it felt.”

The grading, which took place in Hamilton, Scotland, last weekend saw Mr Jervis perform in front of the vice president of the World Taekwondo Federation, grand master Park Soo Nam.

The highly respected grandmaster is one of only a small number of people in the world to hold a ninth dan in the internationally popular martial art.

During a gruelling half hour, not only did Mr Jervis have to perform several set pieces with perfect technical precision but he also had to demonstrate self defence, knife defence and baton defence skills.

Power breaking manoeuvres on thick planks of wood also formed part of the grading.

The grading, which is awarded by the British Taekwondo Control Board, is recognised by the World Taekwondo Federation, the governing body for the Olympic arm of the sport, and has the approval of Kukkiwon the world headquarters of Taekwondo based in Seoul, South Korea.

But as if realising a life long dream were not enough, what makes Mr Jervis's achievement all the more spectacular is that five years ago doctors told him he would never be able to pursue Taekwondo again.

He said: “I suffer from osteoarthritis in both hips and even though they have replaced the hips the damage around the joints is still there. I have also had to have several operations on both ankles.

“Four months after I had the hip operations I still could not put my socks and shoes on and my surgeon said to me I never would be able to. But I went back to him seven months later and was able to put my knee to my head.

“It has been a hell of a job to stay flexible and I have to work at it all the time.

“Taekwondo teaches you about the indomitable spirit and the values of perseverance and self discipline. It is for these reasons it has become such a poplar martial art and is excellent for building character in young people.

“You have to look at the ways you can do things rather than the ways you cannot - you cannot give up.

“If you are in the training hall and you cannot get it right then you just keep doing it until you do.

“What you have to do is take that outside the gym and use it in everyday life.”

And having achieved more than doctors thought he would ever be capable of, Mr Jervis has no intention of taking a back seat.

He is now considering returning to competition in the technical arm of the sport.

Mr Jervis teaches Taekwondo in Norwich. Anyone interested in learning the martial art can contact him on 07949 105562.