Getting his Kicks
Reg Lawrence (left) in action in heavyweight division at 2007 Canadian tae kwon do nationals in Quebec. Submitted photo
Reg Lawrence thought Jean-Claude Van Damme was the coolest guy in the world and admits to wearing Ninja pajamas as a youngster.
He doesnt mind confessing that now because, at six-foot-four and 215 pounds, the 24-year-old tae kwon do national silver medallist, who was born on Christmas Day, isnt likely to be taunted by anyone.
I always wanted to learn how to do that, Lawrence said of the Van Damme martial arts movies, but not necessarily to beat people up, he adds with a laugh.
If watching the big screen action stars who cant act first peaked Lawrences interest in martial arts, discovering a sport where he could kick all he wanted sealed the deal.
Lawrence participated in kenpo karate in Grade 7 at Fred Kirby School in C.B.S., but later a friend introduced him to tae kwon do and he was hooked.
It seemed like I was getting more opportunities with tae kwon do, said Lawrence. Now there is nothing I love more. Im obsessed with it. I really enjoy representing Newfoundland at nationals.
In August, hell get to represent not only Newfoundland, but all of Canada at the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand.
As a young man, Lawrence also competed in kickboxing and boxing while trying to find the sport which would afford him the best opportunity to progress as an athlete.
Other sports took him to several countries around the world, but he decided to stick strictly to tae kwon do when the Canadian Olympic coach suggested to him to keep kickboxing as a hobby but focus on taekwondo.
He was basically telling me I had a future in the sport if I devoted most of my time to it, said Lawrence, who took the hint to heart.
Must leave home
Unfortunately, he has had to leave the province every couple of months to get the competition needed to keep him sharp and earn ratings points at various Canadian events.
Lawrence, who has lived and trained in Halifax for five months with the Canadian coach, will head to Quebec to spend June and July in intensive training with a two-time world champion from Columbia before he heads off to Thailand with his tae kwon do teammates.
The training program in Quebec will mean six hours a day of practice with one day off each week.
Hell be sleeping in the gym so he wont have to pay for accommodations.
It means Ill be living and breathing tae kwon do for two months. Ill be kicking more than walking, Lawrence said with a laugh. Its very exhausting, but its what I want.
Lawrence, who made it to the quarter-finals in his first nationals four or five years ago, feels hell do well at the World University Games, but he doesnt expect to be champion given the calibre of competition which includes Olympic-level athletes.
His ultimate goal is to compete in the 2012 Olympics.
He isnt sure how much more competition hell get involved after that, but he says he plans to participate in taekwondo the rest of his life.
Lawrence is pushed by challenges and thats another reason hes still involved in tae kwon do.
The thing about this sport is that is seems you can never conquer it.