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

Only steps away: Gutsy Walk returns to Kelowna

The walk to cures for Crohn’s disease and colitis comes June 2

Sister of cancer victim cycles across Canada to raise awareness

Her journey started on May 14 and will end in early August

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Firefighters respond to bus fire on Highway 1

Smoke in coach bus reported to have been caused by overheating, driver and passengers safe

Most Read