Dan Read welcomes residents 15-years and older to try out Hapkido and the Robson Valley Community Centre in McBride./ ANDREA ARNOLD

By Andrea Arnold

Dan Read’s motivation behind offering a Hapkido Club in McBride is twofold. Read has been on his own martial arts journey for 40 years and stopping because he moved to McBride was not an option.
Read decided that he would offer Hapkido classes to members of the community over the age of 15 at the Robson Valley Community Centre twice a week so he could continue his own training and share his passion.

Through his journey to being an instructor, Read has seen the many benefits that come from participation in martial arts.

“If you put time and attention into it, you are richly rewarded,” said Read. “I have seen people stretch their abilities, and over time, they can see those abilities expand. Not only physically, but mentally too.”

Read believes that as people continue martial arts training, they also continue the journey of improving themselves, building confidence and increasing focus.

“The real enemy is yourself,” he said. “I have seen so many students experience the internal struggle between initiative and laziness. They either give up when they get frustrated with a new skill, or work harder to master it. Martial arts expose human weakness and show you where you need to grow.”

Read has also seen some students torture themselves, demanding perfection from themselves.

“These students either learn to be more forgiving of themselves and improve, or they can’t get past it and they quit,” he said.

Read says other struggles he has seen students face include confidence, humility, and empathy.

Read began training in Taekwondo when he was 14 years old because it was available to him in his small community. He was being bullied, and he thought that learning some method of self defense was a good move.

“As I learned, the need to defend myself disappeared,” he said. “I am not sure if that is because of my confidence, or it is because we all matured.”

He says it is a good idea for someone as experienced as he is in Martial Arts to attend other types of classes and learn other skills.

“It is a humbling experience to go into a new class and learn new techniques and screw up in front of the other students,” he said.

Throughout his journey, Read has also learned Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, a Japanese style which is the source of many of Hapkido’s techniques.

“It was the family style of the Takeda samurai family; I was fortunate enough to study under one of those Takeda descendants while I lived in Japan,” said Read.

He also studied Escrima. A Filipino martial art, involving stick, sword and knife fighting, and Western Martial Arts. This is a kind of umbrella term for a modern revival of historic European martial arts (primarily different styles of sword fighting).

He spent 10 years learning to fight with longswords, based on actual historic techniques. “A super fun part of my martial journey, and a great example of how a martial artist can benefit from stepping outside their core style and learning something new. Also sometimes called Historical European Martial Arts.”
Read studied Hapkido under the late Grandmaster Michael Forster of Prince George, from 1989 until his death in 2019.

Read is offering participants their first class free.

“It isn’t for everyone,” he said. “I want people to feel like they can come check it out without having to commit.”

For those wanting to continue, Read is asking $90 per month to help cover the expenses associated with running the club. He asks that those interested in continuing sign up for month at a time because he finds that helps the commitment level.

He is not working with a strict lesson structure, allowing people ongoing access to begin attending at any time.

“I assess and teach each student at the level they are at,” he said. “If someone can only attend one class a week, or has to be gone for work, we can work with that.”

Students attending the classes need to wear something comfortable to work out in, and come with a willingness to work out and have fun. Uniforms are not required, and running shoes are not needed.
The two first classes brought in almost a dozen different individuals, and he is excited to see the initial interest. His hope is to grow the class into a solid group of committed people, and possibly in 15 or so years, be able to hand the club off to a new, qualified instructor.

“I hope I am building something here that would go beyond me,” he said. “That would be enormously satisfying,”

Read came to live in McBride after several trips to visit his sister. He found the community extremely attractive, and decided it fit the bill for the community he wanted to live in following retirement.

“I actually have some family history in the valley,” said Read. “My uncle is who Read Road in Dunster is named after. It’s a fun element of me being here.”