Taekwondo is one of the most ancient forms of martial arts in the world. Its continued success throughout time has been due to the practicality of its movements and fighting style. In 1955, General Choi Hong Hi of South Korea formed the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), which now has thousands of competitors and participants all over the globe.
I myself have been practicing taekwondo for eight years and am a third-degree black belt in the ITF. Throughout my career, I have attended multiple tournaments locally, nationally, and internationally, representing Canada alongside hundreds of other Canadians.
The pinnacle of sports is the Olympics — the biggest stage. For ITF, the largest stage is the ITF World Championships held every two years.
In 2018, I had the honour of representing Canada there in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina boasts a proud sports history with the likes of Lionel Messi and the late Diego Maradona in soccer, and many NBA stars.
However, ITF taekwondo has a special place among the Argentinian people. With the crowd full of competitors, family, and many fans, the atmosphere was unparalleled.
For Argentinians, this tournament showed how much passion they have for the sport: they filled a massive stadium with people and had multiple successes throughout the competition. For fans around the country, there were livestreams of the fights that also included interviews of many competitors and organizers. The media coverage and constant commentating on the action gave the tournament a very professional and exciting feel.
For me, the experience was like no other and it made me realize the passion for sports in not only Argentina, but Canada as well. Although the sport of taekwondo is not as famous as others in this country, going to the airport in full tracksuit, flight attendants wishing the team luck on the plane, and arriving to see Argentinians ask for photos and autographs truly show the culture, passion, and image that Canadians possess in the world of sports and on the world stage.
The fact that I found passion for taekwondo in Argentina and Canada, two countries so far away both geographically and culturally from South Korea, is a testament to how universally loved the sport is; it transcends borders and unites all who love it.