A martial family, the Pachansky family, portrayed by the words of the young Mia and the photos of Joe Hart

Taekwondo is a family business for the Pachanskys. The Korean martial art allowed two brothers and a sister to overcome gender differences, to unite themselves in a single, all-encompassing passion. A passion portrayed by Joe Hart’s skilled camera.

We talked to Mia, the feminine side of this household dedicated to the art of kicking and punching: a clear-headed teenager who recently joined the British Taekwondo program. Thanks to her  voice we embraced the Olympic dream and we understood the importance this sport can have for a young girl. Good vision.

How long has Taekwondo been part of your family? Were you and your brothers the first to practice it or is it a family tradition?

My brothers and I originally came across Taekwondo by chance just over six years ago; at the time I was a very un-sporty kid who could’ve never fathomed fighting someone, let alone competing on a broad scale.We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time to receive a flyer on the way to school for the local club, and my family originally joined just to get healthy and improve our fitness a bit.

What made me want to start to take Taekwondo seriously was watching my brother at his first competition. Experiencing the electric atmosphere in the competition venue and seeing how exciting competing was for my younger brother inspired me to want to start training more seriously and do the same.

What are the sensations and emotions you feel during training and competitions?

The feeling of thrill that you get from stepping onto the mats in a competition is very addictive. Hearing your teammates cheering you on in the background as you walk on, psyching yourself up as your opponent approaches the mat, seeing your name up on the screen – These are all reasons that make me feel adrenalised before a fight. Having the opportunity to travel abroad to many different countries that I never would have had the chance to see otherwise is something I’m very grateful for. I also feel very lucky to have met new friends from different parts of the country through training with the GB development team.

Day to day training on the other hand, isn’t always as glamorous. Balancing training every day, while being in school full time can get very stressful. It can get very difficult to motivate myself sometimes. Getting started is always the hardest part though – once I’ve warmed up I feel committed to having a good session and there’s nothing more satisfying than the feeling of endorphins at the end of training.

How do you feel about being a young girl involved in a martial art?

Practicing Taekwondo has boosted my confidence immeasurably. Whilst martial arts isn’t a panacea to solve every gender based problem a girl may ever face, I strongly believe that girls can benefit from the skills developed in martial arts; from learning self defence to building up your sense of self-worth. Britain has a very strong women’s senior and junior Taekwondo team, and has a large selection pool so I have never lacked sparring opponents due to being a girl.

Does the relationship between you and your siblings change on the tatami? And has your personality been changed/improved by the encounter with Taekwondo?

To be honest my siblings and I do argue all the time, but we get on better during training and we motivate each other. I am grateful to have my brothers to train with especially during the pandemic when all other training was stopped. Doing Taekwondo, and any sport I believe, definitely does shape your personality as you learn to cope with stressful situations and it teaches you that putting yourself outside of your comfort zone will reward you. I think that a lot of the skills I’ve picked up from there, like time management, perseverance and willingness to try new things, are transferred to other parts of my life too.

How do you see this sport in your future and what are your goals?

My ultimate aim is to win a gold medal in the Olympics; my sights are set on Paris 2024 and LA 2028. Those are however very long term goals, and a shorter term goal of mine is to be selected for the 2021 Junior European Championships. Recently, I have been accepted to join GB Taekwondo’s full time programme, and I look forward to starting full time training in July. Being able to do what I love full time is something I’ve aspired to do for a long time. I would love to be able to shine a positive light on the sport, and I would like to be able to inspire a younger generation of Taekwondo athletes the way GB’s current athletes inspire me now.


Ph Joe Hart
IG @joehartphoto

Text by Gianmarco Pacione