International Taekwon‑Do Federation
A History Maker of Nepali Martial Art Society
Written by: Gham Bahadur Thapa
History is important and all people have their own histories and life stories. The seeds sown in history can be found in the plants today. Mr. Krishna Bahadur Balal is a well-known and popular personality in the Nepali sports society and in the international Taekwon‑Do field.
Mr. Krishna Bahadur Balal Magar was born in the rural area of Birbash 4, Gulmi District, Nepal, on March 21, 1973. He was a volleyball player and boxer before taking up Taekwon‑Do. Volleyball is popular in Nepal and is played in every village and city as a spectator sport and at various festivals. In fact, volleyball has become part of the Nepalese culture and Mr.Balal traveled to many places to participate in volleyball competitions. He was always interested in sports and especially in martial arts, but martial arts were not as developed in Nepal as they are now. The attitude toward martial arts in Nepalese society was also different. Mr. Balal had a great opportunity to learn boxing from his bother-in-law, Jhak Bahadur Midun who was a national boxer.
In 1990, after completing his initial education, Mr.Balal moved to Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, with the aim of pursuing post-secondary education and learning more martial arts. Army was given priority and much respected in the society here. Many of his relatives were in the army which led to his family pressuring him to join in too. However Mr. Balal had his own distinct and clear goals. He decided to enroll with the Saraswati College and the National Sports Stadium in Taekwondo which was affiliated with the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) currently World Taekwondo (WT). Thus, began his new journey.
Senior Master Love Prasad Gorkhali was the first instructor who taught him Taekwon‑Do in Kathmandu. Mr. Balal continued to learn Taekwon‑Do and took part in various competitions during that time. He was awarded his 1st Dan in 1993 and 2nd Dan in 1996. He had also completed the national umpire course. Immediately after that, Mr.Balal was appointed as an assistant coach in his own home district of Gulmi. The appointment was a government job under the National Sports Council of Nepal. Although it was a huge responsibility and challenge, it was a great opportunity for Mr Balal’s advancement in his Taekwon‑Do career.
After the appointment, he started to teach Taekwondo in his own district Gulmi. A year later, in 1998, he met Mr. Raj Kumar Thapa who founded the International Taekwon‑Do Federation (ITF) Nepal through his friend Mr. Khem Kanauje, a Taekwon‑Do instructor from Palpa district. From the meeting, he received information about the ITF and immediately started to study the original art of Taekwon‑Do ITF. He was so inspired. He decided to learn and develop the art, but to pursue this decision; he had to resign his government job. Ultimately, he left that job and his old sporting career to join the International Taekwon‑Do Federation (ITF) Nepal which was not an easy journey. With his new career path, he returned to Kathmandu and began to train and study the art more intensely. He also participated in various international and world competitions. While developing the art, the Federation also gave him the responsibility of a Central Executive Board Member and Chairman of Technical Committee. At the time, it was illegal in Nepal to train and teach the art of Taekwon‑Do (ITF). Many other martial arts and political groups conspired to ban this art in Nepal. They alleged physical violence was a part of the disagreements
All of the instructors and leaders were going through mental stress. They had to train and teach secretly. Mr. Balal stated that, "there were various unforgettable experiences in his life at that time." He recalled that an incident of physical torture of the coaches which was still fresh in his mind. Apart from that, he still has memory of disappointment and lowered morale due to the incident of bringing in a foreign instructor to Nepal and having to send him back. However in the year 2000, General Choi Hong Hi, the father of Taekwon‑Do, was invited to Nepal for an International Instructor Course. The event was tremendously successful, with the participation from various other countries. That event made the Nepali proud and support began to grow for the ITF. In 2003, the then president of the ITF-Nepal, Mr. Raj Kumar Thapa, took leave from the leadership and with this decision, Mr. Balal’s responsibilities increased as the second President of the ITF-Nepal. The journey of ITF-Nepal and Balal’s career were moving forward together simultaneously.
The journey was not easy after becoming the President. When Mr. Balal took over the leadership, the situation in the country was deteriorating. The Nepali Civil War was still waging. Thousands of people were dying on the side of the Nation and the Maoist party that led the war at that time. The Maoist party was taking young men and women from different places and making them take part in the war with the People's Liberation Army. These individuals who had learned or had knowledge of martial art were of high priority for use in the war. Mr. Balal said, "In 2004 while going to take Taekwon‑Do grading in Palpa district, the People's Liberation Army led by Maoist party attacked Palpa district at midnight killing many people. We were able to save from war. Then I felt like I had a new life." Despite the hardship, he remained steadfast in his goal, continuing the program that had been running in the past. He had various plans and goals for the organization:
- continue to strengthen the International Taekwon‑Do Federation-Nepal
- to expand the art of Taekwon‑Do
- continue to coordinate with international associations
- to have Nepali players representing their nation in the international competitions
- to expand the relations of the organization with the nation’s various political parties, journalists and communities
- to have the organization recognized by the National Sports Council - the highest body of Nepali sports
- to participate in competitions organized and hosted by the nation
- to build the structure of the organization in the Five Development Regions and its various districts
- to arrange for Taekwon‑Do training in the departmental team of the Government of Nepal:- Nepal Army, Nepal Armed Police Force, Nepal Police,
- to conduct various National Competitions and seminars, to bring in international instructors for training
In order to strengthen the sport in South Asia, the South Asian Taekwon‑Do Championship was launched to cooperate and collaborate with other martial arts sports organizations. Financial management was the main key in running the organization which he has his plan on to enable the participation on the organization in various social activities. In the process, he has been building organizational structures in five development regions and related districts and managing sports training there. In order to motivate the players and to produce positive message of this art to society and the Nepal, continuous competition had to be conducted. He viewed that that would be a good way to communicate with the government and society which made it easy to promote the art and its federation. So, he decided to launch the national competition under various names. Mr. Balal says, “Every year we conducted 4 time national championships under different names and various training and seminars due to which the attraction of the game was growing.” Entries from other martial artists and new members were growing. With the aim of breaking the conspiracy and negative publicity towards this sport, the federation decided to celebrate the anniversary of the federation annually. On that occasion, he organized food feeding to the elder citizens, blood donation, sanitation campaign in the arena and annual black belt test. He continued the participation of Nepalese players, coaches, and representation of Nation in international events. The positive message towards the organization was spreading. Therefore, the federation was officially registered with the National Sports Council in 2006. He says, "That day is an important and great achievement day of my life." Taekwon‑Do ITF had been nominated for the 5th National Sports Games in 2009 hosted by Nepal National Sports Council.
Mr. Balal was able to officially train the Nepal Army and Nepal Armed Police Force in 2010. The organization became stronger. He started the South Asian Taekwon‑Do Championship with the aim of strengthening and developing ITF Taekwon‑Do in the South Asian region. The first edition of the competition was held in 2008 and the second edition in 2011 under his leadership. His work was cemented into the history. With the aim of making the development of art even stronger and easier, he started the National Professional Championship annually since 2008. The title of the tournament was "National Professional Taekwon‑Do ITF Championship" and the prizes for the first, second and third place were, $500, $300, and $200 US dollar, respectively. The tournament was the first historic attempt at martial arts sport in Nepal. Therefore, he says "it had played an important role in the motivation of players and coaches, communicating and drawing the attention of the government. He was later nominated as Chairman of the Junior Tournament Committee of the Asian Taekwon‑Do Federation.
Mr. Balal (6th Degree Black belt)
International Instructor and International A class Umpire of ITF