The Whole Family That Has Their Sights Set On Black Belt

Gary, Mel, Rebecca & Eric. Our Unbelievables


By Kristy Hitchens – Brown Mouse Communications


The guide to being a superhero parent

Lesson Number One: Wake up one morning and decide (REALLY decide) every person in your family needs a Black Belt in Taekwondo.


That’s exactly how the most “Unbelievable” journey began for TKD Central parents Gary Veljacich and Mel Buhlmann.
And now our very own “Unbelievables” (because ‘The Incredibles’ was already taken AND it’s pretty ‘unbelievable’ we’re doing this!) are well on their way to achieving that dream.

Rebecca, now 10, had almost completed the Super Dragons syllabus and Eric,7, was rising through the ranks of Little Dragonflies when the inspiration hit.Gary and Mel simply decided one day that they wanted to be right there to support Rebecca as she made the transition from “the little kids’ classes” to junior Taekwondo.

Thanks to TKD Central’s unique twice-weekly family class in Australind, they were delivered an opportunity to train together as a family. Fast forward two years to Term 3, 2017 and The Unbelievables celebrated a stunningly memorable moment in their family’s history as Gary, Mel and Rebecca stood together before Master Justin for a Red Belt Grading Exam while Eric (still completing Super Dragons) watched from the sidelines.

Talk about the ultimate family bonding experience!

Now their sights are firmly set on attempting a Black Belt grading together next year.

Gary and Mel say they’re okay with the idea that it could take longer than that, but there is not a shadow of a doubt in their minds that they WILL all get there in the end. Unfortunately though, achieving a status in martial arts the majority of beginners will never actually realise, doesn’t come as easily as just waking up one morning and deciding. Former concreter Gary turns 60 next year and wages a constant war with old injuries but celebrates the remarkable improvements to his general fitness since starting training.

Mel splits her working life between lecturing in nursing at Edith Cowan University (collecting a Vice Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence as she goes because that’s just how “The Unbelievables” roll) and completing the study and research associated with undertaking a Masters Degree in Nursing.

Yet twice a week throughout the year, the four of them turn up to training and give it their all.

Every step in their Taekwondo journey together is enjoyed, celebrated and REALLY cherished. Photos, belts and board breaks converted into trophies by Gary are on display around their home to help remind them how far they’ve come and what they are working towards. Even Gary’s morning coffee cup shouts at him: “Headed for Black Belt. Don’t look back!”

Taekwondo has become a part of who they are – both as individuals AND as a family.

Those Black Belts are only a matter of time.

Rebecca and Eric talk with pride about their training and their goals and happily recount occasions where the virtues and confidence they’ve gained from Taekwondo has helped them navigate tough situations at school.Despite their young age, they can already see how perseverance is paying off.From Gary and Mel’s point of view, their family has an incredible opportunity to support each other towards achieving a common goal which looking forward, they believe will be of enormous benefit when they are forced to navigate the murky waters of parenting teens.

And they urge any parents who have been sitting on the sidelines to bite the bullet and join in the action so their families too can realise the myriad of benefits training together can bring.
All it takes is one term they believe, to figure out if martial arts is for you. Don’t worry about a uniform or the annual membership fee or gradings. For ONE TERM just turn up each week, pay for the classes as a casual participant, and give it a go. There’s nothing to lose and potentially, EVERYTHING to gain.

As for TKD Central’s instructors, Gary and Mel believe you couldn’t find a better one than 6th Dan Black Belt Master Justin Warren, describing him as head and shoulders above anyone else.And they say he’s well supported by 4th Dan Black Belt Ajana Plunkett and 3rd Dan Black Belt John Crawford who they find to be equally inspiring.

They’re experienced in their teaching methods and achieve a balance between being friendly, approachable and encouraging while understanding how to motivate and empower students to do their best. So what are you waiting for? You too can become a superhero parent like “The Unbelievables” through TKD Central’s family training nights.

· Tuesdays & Thursdays 5.45pm
Australind Senior High School Gymnasium


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  1. Brilliant stuff guys!!!!!
    Mel and Gary are such wonderful people, so encouraging and supportive to all the other members, what an asset they are to the TKD club 🙂

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