2 May 2024

Hedland Taekwondo: A regional club going places in the west

Located 17 hours from Perth, Hedland Taekwondo Club is a leading regional club in Western Australia. And its meteoric rise from humble beginnings has been no accident.

When the original Head Instructor left and retained its members, the new-look Hedland Taekwondo Club was established in 2009 with only eight members from five families.

Yet the club soon went from strength to strength. Its membership quickly doubled, and then tripled within six months. These days the club is even turning members away, although this is a situation Co-Founder and Head Instructor, Relma Bule-Turner (Relma), puts down to a lack of instructor capacity to manage growing class numbers. Turner herself is the only full-time instructor, while the other Black Belts can only attend certain training times due to external commitments.

“As a club we have gone through the fluctuations of the mining boom and its transient population,” she explains.

“At one point we had about 10 Black Belts, however, as is the nature of regional WA townships, everyone left town – either to return home or pursue other careers outside of Hedland. Regardless of this, we persevered with a minimal number of instructors and grew the club to what it is now.”

And what it is now is rather impressive. The award-winning club is structured as a community-based association, supported by a committee consisting of parental volunteers, with Turner as Head Instructor, her husband and Co-Founder, Tim, as Senior Instructor, plus support from a couple of young Black Belts.

Members of the diverse and multicultural club range from the age of 3 to 57 (including 32 per cent females), with the majority of students between 3 and 13 years old. The club promotes family participation by offering discounts for additional family members. The class schedule covers poomsae, sparring, self-defence, and board breaking for gradings.

Hedland Taekwondo was a 1st runner-up on most medals won at the 2023 WA State Championships – Poomsae Events – not bad for a club based in a regional area.

Club vision and values

Relma and Tim never set out to make the club ‘special’. They simply wanted to contribute to their community.

“Our vision for the club is to teach, train and transform young people and adults to be great humans with a love for Taekwondo as a martial art and sport,” Relma says.

“We are community focused, so social inclusion is paramount. Being of service to our community and people underpins everything we do. This is why the ‘Spirit of Taekwondo’ really resonates and confirms that our club’s values align with the values of Taekwondo.”

Relma’s understanding of this spirit has been honed by her attendance at the Kukkiwon Course delivered in Melbourne.

“As a regional club, updates on what is currently happening through Australian Taekwondo, such as the latest information, competitions, and seminars, is very useful – especially with events such as the Kukkiwon Course,” she says.

“I find the course essential for personal and professional development. I learned a lot from the professors, the other instructors, and club owners, and most of all deepened my understanding of the true spirit and values of Taekwondo as a ‘service to others or your community’.”

Moreover, Hedland Taekwondo Club benefits from engaging with other Australian Taekwondo services including club and individual insurance (which makes it easier for members to directly sign up for membership), and the ability to update accreditations via an online portal.

Driving regional development

With the support of Tim and parents, combined with a strong partnership in place with Australian Taekwondo Western Australia (ATWA) since 2022 (Relma is also a recent member of the ATWA board), Hedland Taekwondo Club has made a significant impact in its community and beyond.

ATWA has been working closely with Hedland Taekwondo and Taekwondo Broome to encourage regional engagement and participation at sanctioned tournaments. In 2023, the club held its first regional tournament, and recently finished the 2024 Regional Championships with Taekwondo Broome. Relma has liaised with Newman and Kununurra clubs to encourage regional participation in future tournaments.

Hedland Taekwondo has even been approached to deliver a Social and Emotional Wellbeing Program (Emotional Regulation Program) – starting in May 2024 at one of the local primary schools – highlighting the values and discipline of Taekwondo.

“The importance of regional competition is that it provides a soft entry with home ground support for our new athletes. These events promote great sportsmanship and skills development, build resilience, and foster regional camaraderies, whilst also being fun,” Relma says.

“All credit to ATWA led by GM Anita Tippet and her team. The way they run these regional tournaments is centred upon empowerment for the regions. The level of support from ATWA has helped our club grow in confidence to run our own events, and is valuable for the development of our athletes as well as the club. We have learned so much. We are very grateful and appreciative.”

From family support to individual passion

For Relma, who is from the Solomon Islands, Taekwondo has always been strongly linked to family. Her and Tim, who is English-Australian, have three young adult children together. All five members of the family are Black Belts. They moved from Canberra to Western Australia in 2005, initially to the Kimberley region working in the Kalumburu Community. In January 2007 the family arrived in Port Hedland for work. All except Relma soon joined the local Taekwondo club, then operating under a different name. Relma started Taekwondo in 2009, at first to join in with her family members who were already Blue Belts at the time.

“I used to do Kung Fu pre-children, so when I decided to do Taekwondo my intention was just to support my family. I did not set out to become a Black Belt. I am humbled that I have reached 4th Dan.”

Relma’s role now includes performing all administrative jobs, program development, class session planning, examining gradings, and community and stakeholder engagement. She recently decided to focus on running the club on a full-time basis. For Hedland Taekwondo, a regional club that’s clearly going places, Relma Bule-Turner’s even greater commitment can only be a positive.

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