Teenager wins place on elite martial arts course in South Korea

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TEENAGER Robbie Close is preparing to jet off around the world and learn martial arts at university in South Korea.

The 17-year-old has been picked as one of only three students in the world to undertake a new choi kwang do course at Hanseo University.

Robbie Close

Robbie Close

Robbie ditched studying A levels at Highbury College in Cosham in a bid to follow his dreams of becoming a choi kwang do expert.

Robbie said: ‘The college’s mission statement is “to enable all our students to succeed”.

‘They were upset when I told them I was leaving but they understood when I told them it was dream.

‘As soon as I told my mum she was worried but she soon came round.

‘Now both of my parents are just as excited as I am. They’re both saving up to come and visit me.’

Choi kwang do is a form of martial arts with roots in tae kwon do. As well as teaching self-defence, it teaches respect and discipline.

Robbie will study it along with language lessons for the first two years and then he will have the opportunity to study for a further two years to obtain a degree in the sport.

The lessons will be taught in Korean and Robbie says that language is no barrier as is determined to learn it even if it meant burying his head in books for the first few months.

He has even been trying to eat spicy food in preparation for the Korean diet.

He joked: ‘I have been training myself. I even had the medium sauce when I went to Nandos.’

Robbie, from Fareham, has worked his way up to instructor level after joining South Coast choi kwang do, which practises at Henry Cort Community College in Fareham, three years ago.

He said the sport has helped him in so many ways.

Robbie said: ‘When I started I had no confidence, becoming involved with choi kwang do has boosted my confidence.

‘Now I’m up there calling grades, but the best bit about being an instructor is the thanks you get from the students.’

Robbie said he would miss his friends but they would stay in touch, with some hoping to come to a music festival in South Korea.

His tutor Jon Webster said: ‘I am incredibly proud of him. He deserves it and he has worked hard.

‘When he first came to the group he was quite quiet. This has brought him out of himself and he is now going from strength to strength.’

Mr Webster joked: ‘We speak a little bit of Korean in class but I’m sure he’ll be able to correct our pronunciation when he comes back.’

Robbie is flying out to South Korea today and said goodbye to his college friends yesterday.