International Taekwon‑Do Federation
My interest in sports was unlocked when I was in my primary school. From board to ball games, and all available sports that can be played at home and school—I tried them all.
I was then a kind of person who easily gives up whenever I knew that someone is better than me in my field of interest. I always feel insecure and my self-confidence falls at rock bottom.
I started training when I was eleven years old. Dishan Pamela Acampado, a classmate and a close friend of mine invited me to attend her weekend Taekwon‑Do class in our school. Naïve and young lass I was that time, I was exposed to action movies and television shows. I thought of Taekwon‑Do as just merely all about fighting. Being the youngest and only girl in the family, I somehow enjoy the protection of my parents; so that I am not used to physical nor emotionally hurt by anyone. When Dishan invited me, I was quite hesitant at the beginning but then my adventurism, curiosity and enthusiasm to the new sport overpowered my anxiety.
My first day of training captured my interest to Taekwon‑Do instantly. During the orientation, our Booabums explained to us the 5 tenets of Taekwon‑Do, the students’ oath, the importance of discipline, the DO’s and DON’T’s, what to expect and what Taekwon‑Do can do to us.
The following days of trainings were always full of excitement. The dojang easily became my new comfort zone second to my home. Everyone in the dojang were friendly and welcomed me with open arms. Straightway, I got new friends and a new family.
As my training progresses, I noticed that my self-confidence was also gradually building up. My indomitable spirit was tried and tested when I started participating in local, national competitions and grading tests without so much trembling. I also noticed the physical and mental changes that happened to me—I became more flexible, athletic, smarter, more friendly and sociable. Not only the skills of Taekwon‑Do, but my Boosabums taught me that I must learn also to accept failures and use them to become a better person. As for me, this is an important lesson in life to which I appreciated much. My Boosabums would always tell me to aim for the best not only in Taekwon‑Do but also in everything I do.
At first my parents were worried that I might neglect my studies because of my interest and dedication in Taekwon‑Do trainings, but contrary to what they expected, I achived high grades and became honor student consistently.
My Taekwon‑Do life was never a bed of roses. For the first time, I experienced emotional pain and I can say that it is more unbearable than physical pain that we used to engrossed during sparring sessions. It is pain coupled with fear of losing a friend just because of pride. It happened during one of our sparring sessions, when I accidentally side kicked my sparring partner, who’s a close friend of mine. I accidentally hit his groin area and he fell down grimacing in pain. To my mind, it was his fault for his being careless. I didn’t apologize at once. Our friendship became sour for weeks. Everyone in the dojang noticed our indifference. Our head instructor, Boosabum Ferdinand Berces and our assistant instructor, Boosabum Eduardo Maglente did their best to reconcile us but our egos prevented us and kept us at bay. The instructors and my teammates didn’t give up. They constantly reminded us of the tenets and goal of Taekwon‑Do which—is to build a just and more peaceful world. Finally, I realized that the tenets of Taekwon‑Do cannot be achieved if I have no peace within myself and in the dojang. That pricked out my swelling ego and made the first move of reconciliation. When he accepted my apology, I felt that heavy feeling embedded in my heart quickly melted away; and I felt a sense of freedom and inexplicable joy.
Another experience that immensely contributed to my growth and maturity as Taekwon‑Doist was the time when my grandmother died. We have been training for three months in preparation for the “Palarong Pambansa” (National Games). It was a series of sports competitions among local schools from municipal, district, provincial, regional and national level. “Palarong Pambansa” is the most prestigious athletic competition that every Filipino athlete dreamt to be part of. I was one of the six Taekwon‑Do players from our school, the Alta Tierra Integrated School, Inc. (ATISI) in General Mariano Alvarez, Cavite, Philippines. In the Municipal level, four of us among the six players won; and thereby advanced to the District level with ease. Our training became even more intense as we will be facing more tougher players coming from other districts of Cavite province. Given enough time for training, I can truly say that I was physically, mentally and emotionally prepared to that higher level of competition.
However, five days prior to the scheduled District level elimination round, disheartening news came to my family. My grandmother passed away. The mixed emotion of excitement for the upcoming competition and the melancholy for losing my beloved grandmother stayed in my whole being for days. The worst thing, my father was firmed in his decision to send us home to Cebu province which is 685 kilometers away from Cavite. He didn’t agree to the pleadings of my coaches to allow me to compete first and go home later after the competition. By just thinking that all the painstaking efforts that we have done for months will be put in vain and the loss of my beloved grandmother really dismayed me. My hype was replaced by depression I never have felt before. But thanks to my coaches, Boo Sabum Ferdinand Berces, who is like a father to me and to Boo Sabum Kim Maglente, whom I consider an elder brother; Mrs. Corazon Tanada who is also like a mother to me, and to my teammates Kaira Flores and Rhona Fae Coloma, Hannah Camus and Jhanna Cayetano whose words of wisdom and consolations really uplifted my emotion.. They told me that very young as I am, I have lots of opportunities to join competitions whereas my grandmother will die once and will forever be gone. Indeed, God has purpose for all the things that happened in my life. Because of these words I felt lightness in my heart while on my way home to Cebu. Truly it was heartwarming to be with my relatives that I have not seen for a very long time.
Taekwon‑Do is an inspiration to me. It helped me to be the best version of myself. As my rank ascends; I become tougher, wiser and responsible in my family, school, with friends and in my daily life.
Taekwon‑Do became even more endeared to my life when I learned that March 22, 2020 is the 54th anniversary of the naming of Taekwon‑Do by Gen. Choi Hong Hi which coincidentally was also my 14th birthday. It was a double celebration for me. This year—although we didn’t celebrate it with my friends and fellow Taekwon‑Doist because of COVID-19 pandemic, my “Taekwon‑Do Family” made my birthday and the 54th anniversary of Taekwon‑Do special by filming short video messages for me and by sending cake with ITF logo.
Because of Taekwon‑Do, I am more confident now. It guided me to become a better person and live my life with a purpose.
Taekwon‑Do is a part of me and my way of life now. As a complement, I want to encourage and influence my countrymen, especially the youth and students to learn and study Taekwon‑Do while they are still young. To live and practice the tenets and be guided by it to our daily walk in life will make a person different from the rest.
Here’s the challenge to our Sabums and Boo Sabums of ITF Pilipinas Taekwon‑Do, Inc.—to double their efforts in spreading and bringing Taekwon‑Do to every Filipino youth. Let’s make a difference! Let the Tenets of Taekwon‑Do be brought to every Filipino youth to change the Philippines; to change the World! And let the change begin in every Filipino youth! Let’s do it now!
As what the great General Choi Hong Hi said, “Time waits for no man.”
By: Chulche Yzobel Karl D. Sotto
(Blue Belt, ITF Pilipinas Taekwon‑Do (ITFPT)
TENETS: THE HEART OF TAEKWON‑DO
By: Ferdinand B. Berces
(II Dan, Secretary General ITF Pilipinas Taekwon‑Do)
Tenets are the Kobukson’s rudders
Against the beatings of life’s high seas.
Encapsulating the hearts of the General’s soldiers,
Knitting races, statutes and diversities.
Without tenets, “Taekwons” will just be like waves tossed
by the easterlies.
Or akin to stream floating waterlilies—
No noble cause can we crow to champions and obsessed. Dojangs are green fields where the creeds are raised.
Oath of Taekwon‑Doists toils for world peace.