Taekwondo - The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Speed and agility are some of the defining characteristics of Taekwondo, the Korean national martial art.
And it was with lightning speed that over 100 people applied for the free Taekwondo classes when peacekeepers from UNIFIL’s Republic of Korea Battalion (ROKBATT) started the recruitment process in October.
The turnout and interest was overwhelming, but nothing new for ROKBATT, which introduced the Taekwondo classes to the general population of Borgholiyeh and Abbasiyeh, South Lebanon, back in 2008. Over the years, passion for this Korean combat sport has grown steadily and it is now a much-awaited program, especially since the in-person classes had been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, until now.
Locals, ranging from 6 to 32 years old, were selected and divided into different classes according to their levels, while the frequency of the classes has been increased from 2 to 5 days per week. The ROKBATT Taekwondo teachers are masters of this martial art, and a master wants her students to learn, grow and excel.
“Thank you ROKBATT for opening the free Taekwondo class for local people,” exclaimed 19-year-old Fatima. “I wish to be promoted to 4 dan through this class.” She has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of the in-person classes to progress and hopefully receive the next level black belt or 4 dan.
The newly recruited students, which include just as many girls as boys, kick and fist punch with a fervor that is infectious. Yet the training sessions are anything but easy; they require discipline, endurance and coordination. Nevertheless, the students love it, and the images show it.
UNIFIL’s ROKBATT has over the years supported the Lebanese Armed Forces and communities in the south through numerous projects such as medical support, paving roads, renovation of public facilities and installation of solar power generators. But sharing Taekwondo, this integral part of their culture, with the local population has been much more than a project of support; it has been a gift and this gift just keeps on giving.