Across The Ditch: A report on Australian Taekwon-Do

Gerard Kelly V Dan


Welcome, by all means welcome, to the Third issue of “Across the ditch”. Every edition of TKD Talk will feature this article, highlighting the Australian Taekwon-Do scene and its people.

2018 World Cup update

So, as we draw closer to the world cup, this year being hosted in Sydney, the excitement is mounting! I know that the teams from New Zealand will be hard to beat. Clubs across Australia are well into their preparations to meet with the best in the world and compete at the highest level!


Practitioner profile

Each issue we will do a profile on an Australian Taekwon-Do Practitioner. For this article, I have chosen Australia’s most veteran competitor, and my best friend and partner in crime in Taekwon-Do Mr Charlie Van Beelen. Mr Van Beelen has been a stalwart of the Australian Taekwon-Do competition scene for decades and has shown the young pups what indomitable spirit truly is.

Gerard: Mr Van Beelen, thank you for taking the time to talk to me.

Charlie: You’re welcome Gerard, I feel honoured to be a part of your article!

Gerard: Thank you sir, could you please tell our readers when you began training?

Charlie: I started TKD in 1996 at a late age 40 under, now Master Rocky and Mrs. Rounthwaite. My son Scott wanted to try it so I took him along and after sitting on the sideline watching for about two months, I was coaxed on the floor ” just to join in and have some fun”, 22 years later, I’m still on the floor, just having a bit of fun. My intention was never to stay very long, to do a couple of gradings and then sneak away never to be seen again.  But after each grading I thought, just do one more, then quit. When I watched the black belts grade, it freaked me out. I convinced myself, I could never do that, but once again, the wise words from Mr. And Mrs. R, just focus on your next grading, don’t think too far ahead always calmed my nerves.

Gerard: Who was your inspiration in those early years?

Charlie: The more I trained, the more confident I became. With a much younger group of kids around me in class, I found I started pushing myself harder to keep up with them. In particular, one young girl who really inspired me was 30 years my junior but always amazed me with her spirit, tenacity and ability, Carlie Dann.

Everything she put her mind to, she achieved with relative ease, especially when it came to power breaking. Weighing no more than a few kilograms wringing wet, Carlie at the tender age of about 12 or 13, had the ability to break more boards with her side kick, than most men could only wish they could break on their best day, yet she always remained humble and always took the time to stop halfway through her patterns to assist me with mine.

Gerard: What has been your most memorable moment in your TKD career?

Charlie: I graded for my first Dan in 1998 under Mr. and Mrs Rounthwaite, who also introduced me to power breaking. Over that time, I became very interested in the “power test” or “power breaking” side of TKD. Getting a black belt in any martial arts was never on my bucket list of things to do. The day I finally achieved that was a very proud moment in my life. Competing at black belt really sorted out the men from the boys and as much as I loved patterns, but always forgot them and loved sparring but was too slow, I had a knack for breaking stuff, so power breaking sounded great.


With two experts in the field as my instructors, Mr. And Mrs. R, I soon found myself trying out for World Champs in 2003 in Poland. Unfortunately, the only thing I broke was my foot. Now, after competing at six WC’s I’ve been lucky enough to come away with three bronze medals, two in team power and an individual power in 2011 at the WC in New Zealand. Winning a medal at any WC is a great achievement but winning the individual bronze power breaking at the age of 55 would have to be the proudest moment in my TKD life.

For me, it was never about winning gold, all I ever wanted was to prove I could make it with the best, my goal was to be successful with all five techniques. Germany, 2005 was the only time I achieve this but was disqualified for three of my techniques.

Gerard:  Having been there by your side at nearly every campaign at world champs but Germany was the hardest to watch my friend!

Gerard: What is your favourite Taekwon-Do technique?

Charlie: With so many different techniques in the power test, for me, bandae dollyo chagi would have to be my all-time favourite. It’s one of the most difficult techniques but looks spectacular and feels sensational when successful.

Gerard: Nice one mate! I know what you mean!

Well that’s all we have time for sir! Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me!

Charlie: You are most welcome Gerard, if you need anything else please let me know!


Take care.