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DATE : 17-08-22 06:16
Taekwondo Takes on Educational Mission
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Taekwondo Takes on Educational Mission
By Kang Seung-woo
Staff Reporter
The Korea Times

Since taekwondo originated in South Korea, the country is often considered to have ownership of the sport.

South Korea is expected to dominate at major world taekwondo competitions including the Olympics.

However, World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) President Choue Chung-won believes the benefits of the martial art should not be limited to Korea. He wants it to be used as a tool to educate youth throughout the world.

``Taekwondo is a philosophy of action that is based on several virtues such as self-reflection, self-discipline, confidence, respect for elders, patience and the balance of body and mind,'' Choue said in an interview Friday (Sept. 26, 2008).

``After witnessing personal development in children who practice taekwondo, parents are getting more interested in it,'' Choue added. Choue is to make a presentation Saturday (Sept. 27) under the theme, "The Value of Korean Traditional Sport in Youth Education," at the 6th World Forum on Sport, Educatiion and Culture in Busan, Korea. The three-day forum is promoted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organized by the city of Busan.

There is increasing demand for using taekwondo training among elementary school students. Choue said about 90 percent of taekwondo practitioners registered at dojang, or taekwondo schools, in Korea are children.

Last year, taekwondo was adopted as a required course at elementary schools in Sichuan and Hunan provinces in China, and Indonesia plans to introduce it as a mandatory curriculum in primary schools. In Canada, Chatham College International initiated a residential secondary school taekwondo program.

The sport will also be an official event at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in 2010 in Singapore, which will feature athletes between the ages of 14 and 18.

Taekwondo Peace Corps

The WTF launched the Taekwondo Peace Corps (TPC) in July to provide opportunities for disadvantaged youth in developing countries to learn the sport.

The taekwondo governing body selected 27 college students majoring in taekwondo, including three translators, and sent them to a two-week training course.

The students were divided into seven, four-member teams and were dispatched to five countries - Russia, Paraguay, India, Pakistan and China - for one month. They spent that time teaching youths there the skills and values of taekwondo.

``The TPC offered taekwondo training, sports facilities and equipment, official school curriculums and extracurricular activities to those who are deprived of the opportunity to practice sports,'' said Choue, who has headed the WTF since June 2004.

``It is time for taekwondo to serve the world.

``Sending the TPC to underdeveloped nations and teaching taekwondo will help strengthen the grassroots there as well.''

Choue and the WTF, the only international taekwondo federation recognized by the IOC, plan to expand the TPC by getting more countries involved starting this winter.

``Most of the heads of our member national associations that I met during the Beijing Olympics, especially those from Kenya, Angola and Nigeria, showed great interest in the program,'' Choue said.

``We will ease the requirements for application to the TPC, and I believe that will enable more taekwondo practitioners to join and provide more opportunities for disadvantaged countries.

``Taekwondo is Korea's gift to the world. It has not only taekwondo's oriental spirit and philosophy, but it also offers service to humanity as an instrument for peace and harmony.''

Sport Peace Corps

Inspired by the successful debut of the TPC, Choue is working to establish a new entity known as the Sport Peace Corps (SPC).

This program provides coaching and training to young athletes, supplies equipment and facilities, and helps young people participate in international sporting events.

``The IOC is in favor of the suggestion, and I will also talk with Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the United Nations,'' Choue said.

``The idea coincides precisely with the UN's efforts to achieve world peace and the IOC's work to promote world peace through sports.''

In addition to promoting world peace, Choue said the program can help countries that have struggled in taekwondo to improve, and even out the sport's medal count among the nations competing in the Olympics.

Reflecting the growing popularity of the Olympic sport of taekwondo around the world, a total of 22 countries, including Afghanistan, took home at least one medal in the taekwondo competition at the Beijing Olympic Games. A total of 128 athletes from a record 64 countries participated in the taekwondo competition, with 32 medals up for grabs.

(Story from The Korea Times)