On 3 July, Master Daniel Sng and I checked into the Mandarin Court Hotel in Kuala Lumpur in the afternoon, in anticipation of attending the 7th Global Taekwon-Do Federation’s (GTF) World Championships 2009. We were invited to witness the event by Mr Johnson Kong, the Operations Director of the tournament.
That evening, we were invited to the Opening Dinner which saw over 300 participants, Instructors, Masters and GTF Representatives come together to enjoy a buffet dinner and cultural show. The entertaining night was filled with performances by different ethnic groups in Malaysia, including Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Sabah dancers in colourful traditional costumes. It also served to introduce the richness of Malaysian culture to the visitors, and was definitely well received by all.
The next day heralded the Opening Ceremony in the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium. It was an eye-opener to see veteran Masters giving impressive breaking demonstrations! The VIPs then opened the event with speeches and confetti cannons.
16 countries took part in this tournament, with teams hailing from even Turkey and South Africa. There was a total of 530 participants, with Malaysia, of course, sending in the biggest team of 330 competitors.
Over the weekend and Monday, we had the privilege to watch the Colour Belts and Junior Black Belts perform their patterns and engage in sparring. There were definitely more than a few exceptional Taekwon-Doists that drew praise from the whole stadium, which only international events like this could produce.
There were also a few interesting concepts in their tournament, one of which was the Couple Pattern event, which saw a pair of male and female performing a choreographed pattern on the ring. I think the pairings did accentuate mens’ power and females’ grace, two important aspects of Patterns.
Junior Team Patterns were more flexible since the requirement was only 3 performers on the ring. I am sure that this requirement would encourage more young teams since it would be easier to practice in teams of 3 instead of the traditional 5.
Master Daniel Sng and I also had the privilege of meeting many VIPs, including the President of GTF, Hon. Grandmaster Mrs. Linda Park and her family, the Secretary General Master Chris Gantner, and many other Masters who all extended their friendliness to us, taking time off to sit and have a small chat despite their workloads.
Mr. Kong, who was also Sir’s friend, played a good host and brought us out every evening for dinner, and made sure we enjoyed our stay. Even when he was bogged down with work, he would ask his students to accompany and bring us around, which we were very grateful for.
It was a pity that due to other commitments, we could not stay on through the rest of the Championships, and we left Kuala Lumpur with a bigger insight into Taekwon-Do. I think that despite the different Federations, we practitioners should always stick to our roots and moral values that Taekwon-Do teaches us, to become better persons in life.
Many thanks to Master Sng, Mr Kong and the Organizing Committee of the 7th GTF World Championships for giving us an enriching experience with kind hospitality in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Written by Mr Shaun Chua, 3rd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore.
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2009