Taekwondo is a wonderful sport, a dynamic martial art and excellent conditiooner of the human body. Taekwondo has attracted
the attention of many all over the world, and there is no doubt that it is currently the most popular martial art in the world.
Taekwondo has been in Africa for the last 30 years. It is currently being taught and practised in 45 countries out of
the 50. Regular competitions have seen it grow even more.
What has attracted so many people to taekwondo? No doubt the spectacular techniques which are displayed in competitions.
Taekwondo demonstrations have shown people just what taekwondo practitioners can do. It's effectiveness as a form of self-defense
is beyond doubt. And it's flexibility and readiness to accept new techniques and recognition of other martial arts have seen
taekwondo gain more respect from other martial artists who end up converting to taekwondo.
All this shows that taekwondo has a real future in Africa. Many African countries have seen the benefit of developing
taekwondo in their countries. It is not a secret that some sports are dominated by some countries. Kenya and Ethiopia dominate
long distances in athletics while West African countries dominate in the short races. We see the same dominance by some countreies
in football, basketball, swimming, rugby, hockey, cricket.....the list is endless.
This has left many smaller counties with no chance of ever winning any medals in major sporting events; until taekwondo
Taekwondo is an Olympic sport, giving it an edge over other nartial arts. The smaller countries which stood no chance
in other disciplines have found themselves on the medal chart through Taekwondo. Good examples are Lesotho, Central African
Republic and Mali.
Sadly not all recognise taekwondo as a potential key player. For one, media houses do not give taekwondo the publicity
it deserves. Therefore there is still little knowledge of taekwondo trickling down to the masses. In my experience, I have
met many who think taekwondo is satanic, or some strange religion. I have come across many parents who deny their children
the chance to learn taekwondo and prefer other disciplines. And this is more common where the training of girls is concerned
mainly due to traditional beliefs and religion.
Of course these are not the only reasons. One of the boggest problems is lack of qualified instructors. First, there
are many people who think that there is money to be made in taekwondo. We have people who have no knowledge of taekwondo who
usually go to remote areas and claim to offer taekwondo training. Then we have other who have a little training then open
clubs. Other with more training simply go to non locals and offer sub-standard training at high cost.
Then there is a problem of poor leadership. In my 30 years' experience ion taekwondo, I have see, and fought against
poor leadership for a long time. Poor leadership is not just restricted to Kenya. But just like Kenya, there are divisions
in taekwondo in many African countries. Some of the Presidents are a law unto themselves, and will go to any length to muzzle
others. They do not account for assistance received from the WTF or any other institution. They opetare in disregard to their
constitutions and laid-down procedures. The result is that the standards of taekwondo in Africa continue to lag behind the
But all is not lost. There is still afuture in taekwondo in Africa. The African Taekwondo Union, should continue to organise
championships at more regular intervals. It should have it's own Calendar of events. The Calendar of events could have a championship
for juniors, an African Cup on the lines of the WTF World Cup, an Olympic style, which in my opinion should be during the
African championships, the regular 8-players format and an Open championships format which could include Poom-se. Africa could
also be devided into zones which should be encouraged to organise regional championships regularly.
At a different level, I honestly think Taekwondo should be introduced in the Commonwealth Games. There are many English-speaking
countries which have taekwondo. Alternatively, English-speaking countries could start organising their own champ[ionships.
The World Taekwondo Federation and tha African Taekwondo Union could play an important role in cleaning up taekwondo.
The two bodies could demand transparency and accountability from all member federations. They should also demand proper accounting
of all financial or material aid they give to the federations They should also set minimum qualifications to their member
federations for those who want to be instructors, and ensure that these conditions are followed religiously.
These are mmerely my views. I am sure there many with different opinions, but I believe that we all want the same thing;
the development of taekwond and it's success. Why not pool our resourses to achieve this?
KUKIWON BLACKBELT HOLDER