MANILA, Philippines – If there is one combat sport familiar to Filipinos aside from boxing, it is taekwondo.
Introduced in the Philippines by Kim Bok Man and Young Man Park in the 1970s, taekwondo is currently one of the most practiced martial arts in the country.
It is “one of the most systematic and scientific Korean traditional martial arts that teaches more than physical fighting skills,” says the World Taekwondo Federation on its website. “It is a discipline that shows ways of enhancing our spirit and life through training our body and mind.”
Taekwondo is among the sports featured in the 2012 Palarong Pambansa in Lingayen, Pangasinan from May 6 to 12.
More than kicks
The word taekwondo itself points to its main characteristics.
It comes from the Korean terms “tae,” which means to strike using the feet; “kwon,” which means to strike with the fist; and “do,” which means way or discipline.
The WTF defines taekwondo as “the right way of using all parts of the body to stop fights and help to build a better and more peaceful world.”
Taekwondo is different from other oriental martial arts, according to the WTF, because it uses more foot skills and its physical movements are aligned with the mind and “life as a whole.”
Its colorful belt system also sets taekwondo apart. The color scheme signifies the athletes’ rank in terms of learning and knowledge about the sport.
Players advance through each belt color by undergoing and passing promotional tests, starting from being a novice white belter to being a veteran black belter.
Taekwondo athletes could either participate in full-contact competitions, where they spar with other players, or compete in poomsae contests, where they perform the different forms of taekwondo.
Outside contests, taekwondo also serves as a form of self-defense.
In the country, the Philippine Taekwondo Association (PTA) is the main organization catering to taekwondo athletes. Since its inception, the PTA has been grooming medalists for the Philippines.
One of them is taekwondo superstar John Paul “Japoy” Lizardo, who won in the 26th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games held in Indonesia in November 2011.
Lizardo, along with Kristie Elaine Alora, contributed to the gold medal tally of the Philippines in the said competition.
Still in the 26th SEA Games, the trio of Rani Ann Ortega, Camille Alarilla, and Janice Lagman, also emerged as champions of the Women’s Poomsae competition. The trio defended their title against their Vietnamese counterparts, finishing with 826 points.
How do they do it?
This, says Lizardo, is the key to taekwondo: “work hard, train hard, and enjoy what they are doing.” – Rappler.com