WATCH: A Catalan dentist hopes to expand his taekwondo teaching to take adult classes in 2017 following his successful junior classes at Sandveien Neighbourhood Centre.
Pio Torrent has been teaching 20 to 25 youngsters on Tuesday and Friday evenings for the past six months and following requests from some of the parents and others, he hopes to run senior classes at Sandveien and perhaps the Gilbertson Hall from January.
Torrent, who studied medicine in his native Barcelona for two years before completing his dentistry training in the Dominican Republic, also hopes to start golf classes in the 60 X 40 centre at Clickimin aimed at youngsters and seniors alike.
It is intended that there should be training available for people with disabilities as well, something that Mr Torrent is working towards along with Disability Shetland, Sport For All and Scottish Disability Sport.
Torrent is a committee member and treasurer of recently formed Shetland Sport for All. The charity is desperately seeking funding from sources like Sport Scotland, the lottery and the Shetland Islands Council, all of which are struggling with funding cuts.
The globe-trotting Catalan came to Shetland with his wife Maria in 2015 after five years working as a dentist in Cambodia and Vietnam for an NGO. He presently assists her in the Dental Shetland Surgery until he can get his qualifications updated with a view to practicing as a dentist again.
He also hopes to take his taekwondo, a form of Korean martial art, classes to the West Mainland Leisure Centre one day a week, probably Wednesday or Thursday. He hopes to run taekwondo alongside karate, taught by Neil Pottinger and boxing at the Gilbertson Hall.
He is assisted in his training by brown belt holder Valeska Pearson. The martial art, which dates from the 1950s and developed from various other styles, focuses mainly on spectacular, sweeping high kicks rather than punching or grappling, though hand strikes are also part of it.
According to Mr Torrent, you can get whatever you want out of taekwondo. It is great for self-defence, flexibility and conditioning the muscles, he said.
Perhaps more importantly it teaches self-discipline and builds confidence as well as learning to co-operate with others. It is also an effective method of keeping people “safe and secure” if they should be attacked. “It’s not a sensation it’s a reality,” said Mr Torrent.
Additional benefits are it leads to sharpness of thought and reflexes and combines well with other sports such as football, golf, other martial arts and the likes of yoga and tai chi as it promotes flexibility.
Torrent also worked as a part-time golf coach in South East Asia, though there was little demand as the sport has not yet caught on there. He started practicing as a boy in 1978 but has done little training since moving east in 2010.
“Now I am keen to teach and try and develop some coaches here in Shetland with the help of Scottish Golf to make something big here in Shetland,” he said. Shetland Golf Club captain Mike Stein will also playa big role in developing the sport.
They have high hopes of the 60 X 40 as it will enable year-round practice in dark and windy winter conditions. “It could be good for beginners, adults and kids. And at every hour you can go there till 10pm,” said Mr Torrent.
“We have the help of Scottish Disability Sport with Charlie Forbes, the Inverness based manager for the Highlands and Islands”.
When asked if some of the Shetland players could eventually take part in the Olympics or Paralympics, Torrent said: “Why not?”
He added: “In four years we can make some athlete from Shetland to go to the Paralympics in Tokyo. Golf is also back in the Olympics after a century, so we will try to help people whether they have a disability or not to get into the Olympics.
But he emphasized that everyone is welcome at the sports training, which is not just aimed at producing potential Olympians or Paralympians. “That’s why in the coming months we need some funding”.
Read more in tommorrow’s The Shetland Times.