Vision Taekwon Do by Mr Philip Lear 6th Degree

Master Tan
Master Tan

In 1994 I moved to Malaysia where I was offered a job in the capital city Kuala Lumpur. As an opportunity not to missed at 23 years old I decided to leave England and make my way over 6,000 miles to South East Asia. I passed my first degree in 1993 and was still a first degree at the time I moved to Malaysia. I had heard of a renowned instructor in Kuala Lumpur name of Mr Tan who was at the time a 5th Degree and had taken a training session once in Tunbridge Wells that I had attended. Unfortunately Mr Tan in Malaysia is as common as Mr Smith in England, so there was no chance in just turning up and finding him in the telephone directory, as there were hundreds of them.

Whilst looking for Mr Tan I found and trained with a Master Low 7th Degree in Kuala Lumpur and although for his age he was very impressive in his knowledge, ability and strength, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for as I enjoyed training as hard as I possibly could and not spend all the class time watching someone else.

medalsI kept searching for Mr Tan and even contacted friends back in England to find some information about him, eventually after a month and a half I found Mr Tan in the suburb of Petaling Jaya.

I remember in the first private session I had with him, he looked at me after I performed Chon-Ji (the first pattern) and he put his head in his hands, shook his head and said “you are Sh*t!” I was in shock. But from that moment on I was determined to improve and make him proud of me. For months we just practised Chon-Ji, Dan-Gun and Do-San. I thought that I was quite good back in England as I had been relatively successful as a colour belt, but here I had been served up a juicy slice of humble pie!

sweatyI stayed with the now Master Tan for two years training every day and having private lessons twice a week. For the last 6 months of my stay in Malaysia I quit my job and trained full time. I would go running at 10am or play 2 hours of badminton every morning, then have lunch, Leave for classes at about 1pm and train or teach classes throughout the day. Sometimes Master Tan would train me to one side whilst training the other students (usually school kids at an after school club). I would regularly do over 500 press ups a day culminating in reaching my goal by the time I left of 1000 in a day in sets of 50. I would train through the afternoon, with breaks of course, all the way until 10.30 or 11.00 at night.

Many times whilst I was still working I would not leave the office until 10.30 at night after a 14 hour day, then Master Tan would be waiting for me at the condominium I was staying in to teach me my private class in the apartment’s squash court.
world gold bos

To say I trained hard would be an understatement, I really pushed myself to the limit, in fact the only way to describe it would be that Master Tan took me to hell and back. I can recall one time after a 14 hour day at work I returned to the apartment at 11 at night to find Master Tan waiting for me. I got my stuff together and we went to the squash court to train. I struggled that night and whilst training I suddenly felt ill, I ran out of the squash court and was sick in the bushes. I walked back in feeling light headed, Master Tan said to me “are you ok Phil?” In my mind I thought wow he has compassion, I said “yes thanks, I’m ok now”, he then said “good, 50 push ups!”

If you can imagine the heat and humidity was constant, over 30 degrees centigrade rain or shine, every time you breathed in you would feel the heat burn your lungs. Most of the time we would train outside at the main training area on concrete called PJ Arena, so there would be a slight breeze in the evening, but many times we trained inside where there was no air conditioning and the conditions were sometimes unbearable. But it helped to toughen me up.

I have never sweated so much as I did when I was in Malaysia, I became far stronger than I had ever been, faster and more powerful in my patterns. Master Tan really taught me the art of what he calls “whipping power!” This revolutionised my patterns. Throughout all this time Malaysia was going through a faze of what they called “Vision 2020”, which from what I can remember signifies that by the year 2020 Malaysia will be a strong economy with a futuristic city and where it will no longer be classed as a third world country, This is their national “Vision”.


Master Tan chose the name Vision Taekwon-Do Centre for his classes. I believe that Vision can mean different things for different people. For him it is very much about family, as his family are all involved in Taekwon-Do and it extends to his Taekwon-Do family, his students, to whom he is like a father figure. I was welcomed into his family as if I was part of it. Many times if I was working in the evening and they had a family dinner (sometimes over 15 people at a table) his mother would ask, “where is the Kwai-Lo? (white devil)” I always took this as an affectionate way of referring to me, as sometimes if we were out and about Master Tan would just call out “Kwai Lo” and I knew he was talking to me.

I returned to England in 1996 after grading to 2nd Degree under Master Tan and successfully winning several tournaments. Whilst in Malaysia I would sit in my room at nighttime and plan out how I would run my classes, what I would expect and the standard I would attempt t achieve for my students. At this point the seed had been planted in my head, because I didn’t want to be just another TKD instructor, I wanted to produce quality students and true practitioners of ITF Taekwon-Do, no watered down versions.

I knew after the experiences that I had been through, the continual cut feet and blisters from training on concrete, training in the heat, training until I was sick, the cracked ribs, a twisted pelvis, blistered knuckles, knee problems etc… that enduring the pain had taught me many lessons about how far I could push my body and what it was to get the incredible feeling of satisfaction when I got through the class. This made me feel on top of the world.

After leaving my job to train full time I rented a room in a house with a Chinese family. There was no air conditioning, just a fan. Every night I was eaten alive by mosquitoes and I woke every morning to cockroaches in my bathroom. Also, because I didn’t have a washing machine, I would sit over the bath and scrub my dobok (uniform) with a brush and soap every night after training, which would normally take one hour to do.

I felt that I could pass these experiences on to others, so after speaking with Master Tan he kindly agreed to allow me to use the name in England. In return I try to send any of my students to Malaysia to train with him intensively for a few months during the year.

(from left) Tan Eng Chai, Philip Lear, Master Tan and AVS Bathi in 1995









What does Vision now mean for me? Vision is what I see for the future, it is a very positive word that is always moving forwards, always progressing, never resting on its laurels or happy with how things are. Vision is also about the people and creating an attitude to training which is to work hard for what you achieve and never expect anything to be given to you. It is about creating an extremely high level of student who is prepared to train hard to achieve their goals and have the self-belief that they deserve what they have. It is about the students feeling as one with other Vision students, knowing that within all the Vision schools that we have a support mechanism and a team spirit that can never die. Vision is about loyalty.

Master Tan, Thank you for helping me to become the Taekwon-Do practitioner that I am today, thank you for your kind support and guidance. Thank you for letting me be part of your family and Vision.

Your loyal student,

Philip Lear

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