The family who get a kick from the martial art Taekwondo

Taekwondo champion Gurlaine Sidhu with Alan Titchmarsh and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith
Taekwondo champion Gurlaine Sidhu with Alan Titchmarsh and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith

Luton mum Prinder Sidhu, 57, doesn’t look like the proverbial tiger mother.

She’s slim, modest and self deprecating.

But ask her children what she’s really like and they reveal a woman with a will of iron.

All three won black belts in Taekwondo before they were teenagers, thanks to her steely determination that they should succeed in the martial art.

And it was Prinder who suggested just over two years ago that her offspring should start Sidhus’ Taekwondo Academy, now jointly owned and run by Gav, 26, and his sisters Prit, 25 – a former Luton Sportswoman of the Year – and Gurlaine, 20, who is British Lightweight Champion.

Prinder explained: “I said there are three of you, so why don’t you set up on your own? Why don’t you pass on what you’ve learned?”

Gav, who studied sports journalism, agreed: “Taekwondo is our passion, it’s become a way of life.

“It’s about integrity, perseverance, self respect and respect for others. And coaching is so rewarding.

“One of our first students had dropped arches, a shortened calf muscle and poor co-ordination. He couldn’t kick above his ankles and had to wear special shoes.

“But our training helped everything to stretch and loosen – and now he can kick above his head.”

TV researcher Gurlaine said there were no problems with discipline because it was inbuilt in the art.

Final year osteopathy student Prit added: “We’re a really family-oriented club.

“Taekwondo is primarily a self defence martial art. We show our students how to defend and how to attack – sparring is the combat side.

“We teach traditional patterns where the movements are very technical, and the history behind them, as well as the meaning of the various colour belts.”

Gav started classes when he was about five; his sisters were slightly older.

He recalled: “I used to come back crying but Mum wouldn’t have any of it. If I said I wanted to play football or hang out with my friends she’d say ‘No, you’re going training.’”

One of his most treasured memories is meeting South Korean master General Choi Hong Hi as a young lad of 10.

“I had to shake his hand in a certain way and I remember being scared I’d mess up,” he confessed.

“The General was very stern, very quiet, very serious. But not in an intimidating way. He was quite reserved and didn’t speak much English but he was very fit – he was up early in the morning punching sandbags.

“I feel very honoured to have met him – even though I fell asleep in his lap when we were driving to Leicester for a seminar.”