They’re young, confident, successful and living the life of their dreams! This talented dynamic duo, sisters from the United Kingdom, are still only teenagers, but don’t let those classic feminine looks fool you. They’re serious fighters with all the TAGB credentials (training under the TAGB Taekwondo Federation of Great Britain) to back-up an already astonishing collection of notable achievements and accolades under their belts.
These fresh-faced youngsters, both beyond black belts in taekwondo are also multi-time World and British Championship title winners. This tremendous high kicking and flying sister act fuse real, solid martial arts skills with dance underpinned by a frenzied, infectious energy which never fails to thrill and inspire audiences whenever and wherever they perform! Both, having worked on various TV shows, are looking forward to taking their skills to the bigger stage of film, seminars and beyond as they continue to grow and share their passion with the world.
So what’s their story? We thought it would be a good idea to find out so, let’s not keep the queens of combat waiting, let’s meet Lauren and Sian, The Edmunds Sistas…
It’s nice to meet you both!
Thanks Raj, nice to meet you too!
Let’s start off with a few basics: what’s your height and weight now, how young are you both?
Lauren: I’m 5ft 3 inches (1.60m) tall, 52kg and I’m 18 years old
Sian: I’m 5ft 5 inches (1.65m) tall, 50kg and I’m 16.
How and when did you first get started in the martial arts?
Lauren: It was mainly through our father [Peter] who did karate. I was 5 years old.
Sian: When I started seeing Lauren train, I joined in and enjoyed it! I was 3 years old.
Who were your main teachers?
Lauren: Well, we’ve had various teachers through the years where we used to train in Newton Abbott. Since then, we’ve moved to Exeter and we’ve trained under the same teacher, Ben Cheriton, for about the last 4 years.
Who would you say were your martial arts role models growing up?
Lauren: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, we both grew up watching lots of martial arts movies!
In that case right here, we HAVE to ask you, what are some of your favourite martial arts movies?
Sian: I also like No Retreat, No Surrender, it’s pretty inspirational!
Video of the Edmunds Sistas as Grand Finalists on “Britain Does Variety”
Can you tell us about any female/male martial artists that you look up to?
Lauren: As for females, we aspire to be like Chloe Bruce. She’s worked in movies too. We’d like to work with people like her, we also keep in touch with Cynthia Rothrock, we love her! As for guys, we learn a lot from Warren Vice (5th Dan) 19 times taekwondo World Champion, he seems to win every time he competes. We do watch his videos on YouTube quite a bit!
What kind of training do you do?
Both: Lots of practice of taekwondo kicks, leg holding in the air, conditioning of the legs, running in the gym etc.
How do your skills and abilities differ?
Lauren: Sian is more into the gymnastic and acrobatic stuff, including aerial and flip combinations.
Sian: Lauren is more “leggy”, (flexible in her leg work) and does the really high kicks with a lot more power.
What, if any, are your favourite moves that you like to perform?
Lauren: I think we’d have to say the scorpion kick because it’s the hardest move to do, few people can do it because of the difficulty level. It’s the one we’ve probably trained the most on.
Sian: And you need a flexible back for that!
You’ve won lots of titles, how many up to this point?
Lauren: Over 300 national titles between us. I’ve won every British, Welsh, English, Scottish and regional, South East, South West, Midlands and European Disney championships (competing in the Disney Park) I’ve been 41 times national and regional champion as well as 3 times world champion.
Who’s been your toughest opponent so far?
Sian: I would say Lauren’s been my toughest opponent! We have to fight each other a lot. It can get quite brutal but fortunately we’ve never managed to injure one another even though we go in quite hard with each other!
How do you feel about potentially representing Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics?
Both: Quite excited! It’s something we’ve always wanted to do. We’d like to do what Jade Jones did in 2012 at the London Olympics and bring home a gold for taekwondo GB. However, we’d need to change our style. We do a different style of taekwondo to the Olympics style. For instance, we don’t wear the protective gear on our chest we use our hands as much as our feet. They don’t use their hands or guard either. We don’t use touch technology or anything like that as they do in those tournaments. So you see, we’d have to learn and implement some changes. Hopefully we’ll succeed in making that transition in the trials coming up, and we’ll see how we go. We’ll probably prepare by going to the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) training centre in Manchester. Hopefully we’ll both have a chance to compete in 2016!
What kind of physical injuries have you had and how did you work back up to form?
Lauren: In August 2012, I completely tore my ankle ligaments. I was sparring and my foot hyper-extended the wrong way. The pain was pretty bad and for 6-8 weeks I was on crutches. In the meantime I still taught and did light stuff, staying away from impact exercises. So it was more about gentle conditioning on my ankles and building-up the strength, rehabilitating at home.
Sian: Aside from a hip injury, I’ve been fortunate not to have had any other major injuries. I think Lauren tends to get them more, she’s a bit more umm…forceful!
Do you follow any kind of special diet?
Lauren: In the past I didn’t pay too much attention to it and just ate whatever, but now in the last few months I’ve made changes to my diet. Whereas before I used to live off Red Bull, now, I drink more water, no alcohol, don’t smoke anyway, eat two meals per day (I’m not a breakfast person so I’m not hungry to eat in the morning) eating more fruits and vegetables. I believe these changes will stick!
Both: At lunch we’ll eat things like jacket potatoes, eat a healthy Thai-style chicken dish at dinner, for instance my aunty has a Thai restaurant. We may drink recovery drinks too.
What’s been your proudest achievement to date?
Lauren: Winning the World Championships in 2010, winning three gold medals and a silver, everything went right on the day, will also be competing in the European Championships, in Switzerland this year.
Sian: It was good winning team gold for sparring! I’ve also won the British Championships again just recently.
You’ve another younger sister too, haven’t you?
Lauren: Yes, Lara, she’s 13 years old and a 1st Dan in taekwondo now. She also appeared in the movie: “How To Lose Your Friends and Alienate People”. She practices with us and did her first show at the Martial Arts Expo in Coventry last October, alongside us!
Can you tell us how a day in the life of the Edmunds Sistas generally shapes up?
Both: Generally we start around 9am.
We do some admin work for the Edmunds Sistas. Then we teach at our club. We train for two and a half hours per day making sure we also have time to rest. In addition to the teaching it comes to about five hours training per day. If we have a show coming up, we’ll spend extra time doing more focussed training. We’re often home by about 10-10:30pm, we always end up having late dinners! On our day-off we still do quite a lot of stretching. Other than that, chilling out, doing errands, the usual kind of thing!
What are a few interesting things you’d like to share that perhaps many people don’t know about you both?
Lauren: We were home schooled by our parents. I used to do boxing in 2010, but, actually, we’re all quite normal and girly outside of the martial arts!
Sian: Once Lauren was supposed to go on a talk show with Jackie Chan but she was ill and couldn’t attend, she was 6 or 7 years old at the time!
Lauren: Once, I had my ribs broken! I was at an event practicing with a guy who had special needs. When the fight ended, he decided to kick me (while we were meant to be listening to the instructor explain something).
Both: We have rather old-fashioned tastes in music, that’s what we’ve grown-up with. Elvis, Michael Jackson, we’re not really into the new super-modern stuff!
Have you travelled much?
Both: We’ve probably been to Thailand about ten times. We tried out kickboxing classes while there on holiday. We’ll look at this more in the future. Interestingly didn’t see many women engage in kickboxing there!
Sian: I’d like to go to Hawaii again (I was there when I was really young) and train on the beach.
What hobbies do you have outside of the martial arts?
Lauren: We used to play football a lot more when we were younger and loved it, but it was beginning to shorten our hamstrings, affecting our flexibility.
Sian: I do like dancing. But really, all our friends do taekwondo, pretty much whatever we do, is connected to the martial arts! I liked coaching football to 9-12 year olds. I support Manchester United.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Lauren: We’d like for the Edmunds Sistas to get more exposure doing more demonstrations and events. This will, hopefully, lead to more TV and film projects. We eventually want to get into stunt work, like Jackie Chan, who does all his own.
Would you be willing to take your skills to the likes of Thailand with their demanding shooting schedules along with the climate?
Lauren: Yes, that would be a great opportunity! Along with the tough, repetitive work, (we’re used to Thai weather too) we’d be fine with that. We’ve been on lots of movie sets so we know what that’s like.
How do you keep yourselves motivated?
Well, we’re all passionate about what we do, we all love taekwondo and it’s a lifestyle for us, that in itself provides a great base of support!
To girls and young women considering taking up a martial art, what advice would you give to them?
Lauren: Just don’t be phased by or worried about men in the martial arts. Lots of women hesitate, but remember, we can do it as well as they can!
Sian: Also, remember, you can still be feminine without being butch!
What warrior words have proved useful for you over the years. Do you have a favourite training motto?
Lauren: To the negative ones who try to bring you down, don’t retaliate simply remember, the best revenge is massive success. In the long term that’s the best way.
What’s the best way for readers and fans to get in touch with you?
Finally, what message would you like to give readers of Kung-fu Kingdom and your fans around the world?
Both: just keep doing what you love, stick at it and strive to be the best in whichever martial art you do.
That’s wonderful girls! We have to say it’s admirable to see from teenagers like yourselves such dedication, sincerity and humility flow from everything you do. Great to get to know you better, KFK wishes you all the very best for the New Year 2014 ahead, keep in touch!
Thanks Raj for giving us the opportunity to tell you all much more about us and share our message. Happy New Year!