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

Thunderstorm leaves small fire near Adams Lake in its wake

Wildfire crews are also fighting a small fire near Kamloops

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Heat, sun and a chance of thunderstorms for Father’s Day

Morning pancake breakfasts and fishing derbies across the region will see sun, showers may follow.

Dedicated Girl Guide leader recognized with Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Maryann Brock has volunteered with Girl Guides for 37 years

$30,000 donation for outdoor classroom in Salmon Arm to honour beloved teacher

Funds from Armstrong Regional Co-op to go to the Shannon Sharp Learning Circle

New South Shuswap community park proposed for Blind Bay

Regional district proposes the purchase of 9.5 acres now known as Centennial Field

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Police seek two suspects and car after stabbing in Kelowna

The stabbing took place on Friday evening on Wilson Avenue. It sent one man to hospital.

Okanagan pitcher tosses second no-hitter of season

Vernon’s Jarod Leroux has two no-nos in his last three starts for the BCPBL’s Okanagan Athletics

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Summerland Health Care Auxiliary completes hospital donation pledge early

$1M contribution to medical equipment campaign completed half a year earlier than expected

Letter: Writer argues biosolids will damage water, soil

Turtle Valley residents lost the first battle with Nutrigrow/Arrow Transport when our… Continue reading

PacificSport and SportHealth team up to subsidize physiotherapy for members

The partnership is touted as the first of its kind in Salmon Arm

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Summerland ready for dry summer conditions

Province has declared Level Two drought, but Summerland has not increased watering restrictions

Most Read