Filipinos are among one of the most avid practitioners of martial arts in Asia. All over the country are either gyms or dojos teaching one form of martial arts or other. And while the Philippines have their own wide variety of homegrown and formalized fighting styles, it’s plain to see that forms from East Asia – China, South Korea and japan for instance – have a firm grip and appeal upon Filipinos young and old who have chosen to walk the path of martial arts practitioners. The same goes for the city of General Santos on southern Mindanao. When it comes to the most prominent East Asian martial arts there, no question that a lot of Generals look to learn and practice Taekwondo.
Taekwondo, or TKD for short, is a Korean martial art developed in the 1940 and 50s by a grand gathering of mostly South Korean martial artists and schools after World War II, wherein several indigenous Korean fighting styles were combined and incorporated with principles from Chinese martial arts and Japanese karate. Audiences today would recognize taekwondo by its emphasis on fast and powerful kicking attacks that can reach all the way up to an opponent’s head from a standing or jumping position. The art as a whole is governed by the Korean Taekwondo Association in its home nation, and globally by both the International TKD Federation and the World TKD Federation, the latter of which is responsible for competitors of the art and sport at the Olympics, of which Taekwondo has been an official event of since Sydney 2000.
In GenSan, taekwondo has quite the visible presence. Certain local universities, colleges and even high schools have TKD training clubs, wherein qualified instructors are on hand to teach interested students who would join the clubs. These clubs then field taekwondo jins (practitioners) to compete in either intramural sports festivals or for interscholastic tournaments in either city, regional and national levels. But outside of academic institutions, more private TKD dojangs (schools) also attract a lot of pupils, as the art and sport facets of taekwondo are praised for many benefits such as keeping fit, instilling discipline and self-control, and of course the practical knowledge of self-defense for dangerous situations.
Among the popular TKD dojang in the city today is the Dragon Heart Taekwondo Academy, at corner Leon Llido Street and National Highway. Established in the year 2001, Dragon Heart has had a decade and a half to build both its reputation as a school to learn TKD, but also a highly active and successful stable of sport competitors capable of winning not just national tournaments but even contests of a world level. A family-run enterprise with three professional instructors on hand, DHTA is not only the main TKD belt testing center in Gensan (for belt promotion), but is the main branch and supplier of Kix-brand pro taekwondo gear and equipment.
Just recently, SM City General Santos played host to a taekwondo summer clinic that gathers some of the best TKD schools, instructors and students from all over South Central Mindanao. This was under the hosting of the Asian Institute of Discipline and Arts (AIDA) World Taekwondo Gym, another prominent source of award-winning TKD practitioners in Gensan, in their case for the past 20 years, during which many of their jins have since made names for themselves internationally.
Among those athlete instructors who served as speakers for the event are John Pierre and Brian Alan Sabido. JP Sabido is a Gensan native, who has gone on to become 5-time world champion in taekwondo tournaments. His time at the University of the Philippines Diliman saw the blooming of his world-level potential and skill in taekwondo. This saw him eventually becoming part of the Philippine national TKD team, where he went on to earn glory and accolades for the country in international tournaments. During the 9th World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Mexico, JP Sabido was proclaimed World Men’s MVP following 3-gold wins by Team Philippines in the events, two of which were courtesy of Sabido.
He credits his successes to his pursuit of betterment through taekwondo which has diligently practiced from childhood. In an interview with local news network Brigada, JP expressed gratitude for the self-discipline he picked up from the art, which has helped him endure stress and adversity in life such as defeats both in and out of the ring. He encouraged the participating jins to practice TKD out of sincere love for it.
Brian Alan Sabido meanwhile is no slouch either. He has participated in the WTF Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in 2008 and 2010, with the latter earning him first place gold. He too was present in the taekwondo clinic to share his expertise with a new generation learning the art and sport for exercise and self-improvement, especially for when dealing with bullying. The AIDA World Taekwondo Gym then invited those who participated in the clinic to really take the plunge and enroll for classes with them. They assure those who are interested that TKD is a good pastime, hobby, fitness routine and discipline for all ages and genders, to help them learn greater things than just martial arts, but how to live life as well.
The AIDA World Taekwondo Gym can be found at Lifeway Park, Queenies Love Village, Dadiangas Heights, at Gen. Santos City, Philippines.
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