International Taekwon‑Do Federation
How I have discovered ITF Taekwon‑Do favorite Martial Art by accident, and it has been your way of life
How do I come across Taekwon‑Do?
I am from Finland, a country where Santa Claus lives and is known for Ice-hockey, skiing, ski jumping, and multiple Rally – and Formula 1 drivers. I have spent most of my life in a small city in Finland, which is 60 km outside the capital.
I had encountered martial arts in my childhood and teenage years, such as boxing, Japanese Ju-Jutsu, Wado-Ryu, Shaoling Kung Fu, Kendo, Ninjutsu, and WT Taekwondo.
In 1989, I moved to another city for work. To search for the nearest taekwondo school, I went to a demonstration. I was surprised when they demonstrated sparring – punching each other’s heads. Then I wondered what kind of Taekwon‑Do it is. To find out, I registered myself for a beginner course. After the first lesson, I was pretty confused about Korean terminology, student oath, etc.
I almost cried when I reached home because I had trained so many years in other martial arts and knew so little!
After that, I always showed up in training, and I took part in a lot of competitions. In 1990, I won my first Finnish Championships medal in sparring 1990, and in 1991, I also got a Gold medal in heavy weight in sparring at Finnish Championship.
I opened my 1st Taekwon‑Do school in 1996 and established an NGB in 2003. Until 2010, I opened around 15 Taekwon‑Do schools around Finland, and some Civil Colleges have accepted our training as part of the sports program, including one military school in Southern Finland.
From 2010 to 2012, I handed all schools to local Black Belts to run weekly training.
I thus trained senior black belts and gave weekend seminars. From 2002 to 2015, I drove 65,000- 95,000 km per year to teach all over the country. I was also the National Team coach for 10 years and the first NGB President for about 10 years.
I have become a professional sports coach under the Finnish Ministry of Education and a Personal Trainer. Now I have over 20,000 Personal Training lessons for beginners to Olympic-level athletes of different sports.
What makes ITF Taekwon‑Do so exceptional?
ITF Taekwon‑Do comes with a complete package - fundamental exercises, patterns, sparring, power breaking, special techniques, self-defense, with theory, terminology, etiquette, protocol, and so on. It is a unique, versatile martial art and a tool for both body and mind. I think our Founder Gen. Choi Hong Hi is a genius. One thing I love the most is the breathing method which I believe creates the most powerful techniques in the World of Martial Arts. I have taken that breathing method to the gym and other sports students too. Once I taught 2 players from National Golf Team the breathing method, they were shocked to find that they were more relaxed and got longer shots. They even joined my Taekwon‑Do training for about 2 years before moving to Spain to play professional golf!
Also, the Encyclopedia is a treasure to every Taekwon‑Do participant. You could not find in other martial arts not the same level. Our theory of power is a unique one created by our Founder Gen. Choi Hong Hi. I was 1st one who translated the theory into Finnish. Years later, I noticed that other martial artists copied my text and used it at their seminars. I contacted them, and they reflected that they don’t have anything similar to what we have in ITF Taekwon‑Do. I even got invited to their seminar to teach the Theory of Power.
ITF Taekwon‑Do has fundamental exercises, patterns, sparring, power breaking, special techniques, self-defense, theory, terminology, etiquette, protocol, and so on. Sometimes I got told that Taekwon‑Do does not work in real-life situations. In fact, I have been training with various martial artists. They were all surprised that I knew how to avoid their low kicks or even use low kicks against them or throw them and lock them in the ground.
In addition, in these few years, I have noticed enormous progress in seminars (IIC/ITS), mainly seminars conducted by ITF Technical and Education Committee. They have given a more precise explanation at the technical level, and now the gap between different aspects of Taekwon‑Do is smaller. It is now even more natural, effective, and dynamic.
Taekwon‑Do, my way of life
Fortunate enough, I visited DPRK a few times. I always learn new things about Taekwon‑Do, Korean martial arts, culture and Korean people every trip. I also learned that Taekwon‑Do etiquette and protocol are related to the culture there. People are always polite and humble regardless of age or position. One day after a long seminar, I sat alone on the front stairs outside the Taekwon‑Do Palace, watching Korean people passing by. That moment was the most peaceful moment I have ever had. I connected with the people around me and affirmed that Taekwon‑Do is my way of life. Therefore, I recommend that all students visit DPRK if they have the opportunity.
To sum up, Taekwon‑Do is a lifelong journey. Sometimes, some seniors told me the reasons they stopped training. But if I stop Taekwon‑Do, my life will also stop with it, as life would be meaningless without Taekwon‑Do. That's why, at age 57, I still train weekly to understand my body and mind.
I am pleased to write this article, and I wish everyone a great future in Taekwon‑Do life!
Master Jean Feller
Member of Junior-and Veteran Committee
Member of Technical- and Education Committee
Founder – and Honor President of ITF Finland