R.J. Smith (middle right) and members of Kel-West Society of Martial Arts. Photo: FaceBook

Longest running Korean martial arts school is still going strong

R.J. Smith (middle right) and members of Kel-West Society of Martial Arts.

R.J. Smith founded the Kel-West Society of Martial Arts in 1995 to bring his passion of hapkido and other Korean martial arts to his home town.

More importantly, however, it was a way to introduce holistic styles of martial arts to help not only with self-defence but also mental well-being.

Martial Arts isn’t solely about winning tournament medals and competition.

“It helps with cardio, it feels good, it’s a stress relief, helps with meditation, and you can start to feel the energy in the whole community,” said Smith.

“An important principle of martial arts is peace of mind.”

Smith is proud to have the longest running Korean martial arts school in the Okanagan Valley, but acknowledges that it hasn’t always been easy.

Whether it was lack of interest from the community, people signing up for the newest fad like MMA, or the politics of the martial arts world, Kel-West has stood the test of time celebrating its 24th anniversary in August.

“I think it’s quite an accomplishment, schools of this nature tend to come and go,” said Smith.

The school is a traditional school that follows the etiquette and original instructions of the founders.

READ MORE: Founder of Me Too movement speaks in Kelowna

Smith, a third-degree black belt and national instructor who has 43 years of experience in hapkido and taekwondo, started the groundbreaking martial arts school at the former Westbank YMCA in 1995 as a not-for-profit organization, and has since moved to the Kelowna side. It’s still the only hapkido school between Vancouver and Calgary.

Since then, Smith has tried to not only provide self-defence teachings, but also to give an outlet for people who looking for fun activities and for people struggling with disabilities.

Now 60 years old, Smith has recovered from his own personal disabilities including a near-death car accident in 2012 that prohibited Smith from teaching for over a year.

Smith used martial arts to find a way back to the happiness of teaching.

“It’s important to me, as a health tonic, and it (helps me) cope with my disabilities,” said Smith.

“But it comes down to, ‘Do you enjoy your work out? Does it make you happy?’ Martial arts are about happiness.”

Kel-West Martial Arts students have collected more than 300 medals, and Smith has coached at the Canadian national taekwondo championships once. He is the first Black Belt to act as an assistant coach at the GTF World Championships twice, in 2005 and 2007.

“My accomplishments in my arts are with my students,” said Smith.

For more information on the Kel-West Society of Martial Arts can contact 250-768-1111 or instructor@kel-west.org.

To report a typo, email:
newstips@kelownacapnews.com
.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Mobile Mammograms coming to Salmon Arm

The truck will be in town from April 11-15

Changes to dog ban on foreshore approved

Time of Salmon Arm prohibition will be two weeks later in spring

Parcel tax jump coming to combat city’s poor road rating

Salmon Arm paved road grade drops below 50, transportation parcel tax may increase by $30

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: A mix of sun and cloud, potential showers

Environment Canada predicts showers today will go away to allow for sun later in the week.

Small slide reaches highway’s edge east of Canoe

Ministry to monitor site, otherwise no concerns reported in area

The good, bad and the unknown of Apple’s new services

The announcements lacked some key details, such as pricing of the TV service

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

‘Planet of the Geese’: Okanagan city’s parks a muck with goose poop

Off leash dogs proposed as a suggestion to cleaning up the mess

Protecting natural habitat: Okanagan provincial park expands its borders

19 hectares of protected land has been added to Myra-Bellevue Provincial Park in Kelowna

VIDEO: Teenage girl was person killed in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Police are investigating the fatal crash at Mariner Way and Riverview Crescent

Sailings cancelled after BC Ferries boat hits Langdale terminal

The Queen of Surrey is stuck on the dock, causing delays to Horseshoe Bay trips

Okanagan Fest of Ale promises to be bigger and better

A record breaking 75 breweries are now confirmed to participate at the annual event in Penticton

SPCA seizes 54 animals from Vernon property

Animals weren’t receiving adequate care

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Most Read