About the Kel-West Society of Martial Arts:
Established at the former Westbank YM-YWCA in August of 1995, Kel-West Society of Martial Arts is the Central Okanagan's first and oldest Taekwon-Do and Hapkido, not for profit institution. The school was founded by Mr. R.J. Smith, (a West Kelowna-based Black-Belt) who has been a Black-Belt Instructor of Taekwon-Do, Hapkido and Kum-Do since 1995. The school is affiliated nationally and internationally, with the Global Taekwon-Do Federation (G.T.F.)(20 years) and the World Hapkido Association (W.H.A.)(18 years). the latter of which he is a "charter member."
Mr. Smith, who started his martial arts training in September of 1975, is a certified 3rd Degree (G.T.F.) Black-Belt and National Instructor who holds certified black-belts in three martial arts (G.T.F., I.T.F., W.H.A.) and has 41 years of experience, (including 30 years in Taekwon-Do, 23 years Hapkido and 23 years of Kum-Do). He has trained with some of the most prominent martial artists in Western-Canada (and overseas) and is among the Valley's most experienced and intelligent instructors.
During its' first year of existence, the school was known as 'Kelowna-Westbank School of Taekwon-Do.' However, on July 16th, 1997, Mr. Smith decided to shorten the school name to "Kel-West" (from the wordy 'Kelowna-Westbank') and the rest (as they say) is history!
According to Mr. Smith, the name 'Kel-West' was meant to imply a school that was truly representative of both the City of Kelowna (population 140,000+) and the District of Westbank (population: 40,000+), which are the two largest cities situated within the British Columbia territory known as the Regional District of Central Okanagan. (R.D.C.O.)
"The main reason why this school was established in 1995," notes Mr. Smith, was because of the increasing commercialism of Taekwon-Do here in the Okanagan Valley (and elsewhere). Basically, back in the 1990's, there were local instructors exploiting the trust of the Kelowna public?
That's where we decided to step in and said: "enough is enough." We (including most of our parents) wanted a school where the priority would be on developing good character and happiness among our students. In our experience, a growing number of "commercial" schools in Kelowna (and elsewhere) are teaching a sloppy, undisciplined version of martial arts, where "making money" is the only redeeming value of their schools ?
"Over the last 23 years at Kel-West, we have developed a reputation for not only being "good businessmen," but also, excellent teachers and instructors who really care about their students."
'The main reason why this school was established in 1995,' notes Mr. Smith, was because of the increasing commercialism of Taekwon-Do here in the Okanagan Valley (and elsewhere?). We (including most of our parents) wanted a school where the priority would be on developing good character and happiness among our students. In our experience, a growing number of "commercial" schools in Kelowna (and elsewhere) are teaching a sloppy, undisciplined version of martial arts, where "making money" is the only redeeming value of their schools ?'
Mr. Smith has worked long and hard to promote the art of Taekwon-Do, here in the Valley. He was the first person to introduce a Taekwon-Do program within the YM-YWCA's of Greater Kelowna, teaching classes at both the Johnson-Bentley Memorial Aquatic Centre in Westbank and also, the Athans Aquatic Centre in Rutland.
The school has seen steady growth since 1995 - at one time in its history, Kel-West Martial Arts had three schools; Westside, Rutland (established in Sept./96) and also, on Sutherland Avenue in Kelowna (established in Oct./96)
Meanwhile, the Westside School (Adults and Little Dragon's children program) is the first known Taekwon-Do and Hapkido program in the City of West Kelowna.
A big proponent of self-defence training, Mr. Smith has introduced the Korean art of Hapkido to Okanagan residents, which, he points out, is not an "easy" art to teach, but is a skill "worth learning, nonetheless." He has been instrumental in promoting the Korean martial arts as a "non-commercial," affordable family activity and has introduced virtually hundreds of people to Taekwon-Do and Hapkido (most of whom have had no previous training in any art).
Over the years, students at Kel-West Society of Martial Arts have gone on to become local, provincial, and national champions, especially at the black-belt level and the Kel-West Society has received praise from instructors from all over the world, for its training methods and reputation for producing outstanding athletes of all ages.
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