My First Overseas Taekwon-Do Competition: Kuala Lumpur 27-28 October 2018

My First Overseas Taekwon-Do Competition: Kuala Lumpur 27-28 October 2018

Day 1. We arrived at the competition venue, Stadium MPSJ Serdang Jaya at 8am, where I was given my number tag. Looking around me, I saw many participants warming up and getting ready for their respective events. Their ages ranged from as young as 5 years old to adults above 40. They were all wearing the ITF Dobok. With more than 950 participants, the stadium was filled with people from as many as seven different countries such as Indonesia, Hong Kong, Uzbekistan, Singapore, Bangladesh and China. The Malaysian contingent was represented by many participants from various states.


We watched as the events started with Colour Belt Patterns, where Shaun Sir and Carnation Ma’am were helping to umpire with. There was a total of 6 competition rings, and the stadium was thronging with activity by participants, umpires, officials, coaches, and supporters!

The Opening Ceremony started at 11am. The opening speech by Master Lau struck a chord with me. He was very encouraging, and told all the participants that during his tenure he hopes to see all of us to grow up to be more successful, and a better person tomorrow.


Together with all the masters and coaches, we all gave a loud cheer of “I’m Champion!” to signal the start of the competition.

Although there were many participants, I was not feeling nervous at first. In fact, I was feeling excited to be part of the competition. Watching the competitors in the Colour Belt Patterns, I was impressed with their precise and accurate movements. I thought that the Team Patterns were the most impressive, where many creative choreography was displayed.


Enjoying some time with my mum at Mines Shopping mall just beside our hotel – Top Holiday Hotel.

Day 2. I was feeling quite nervous as this was the day of my event and I would be competing against other more experienced Black Belt holders. Among the competitors, I could recognise some familiar faces. I remember them because they came to Singapore in March earlier this year, to compete in our ITC Championships.

As soon as I entered the stadium, our age group was called to gather. My heart was in my mouth as I did not expect my competition to start so soon. I didn’t even have time to warm up properly. Thankfully, Carnation Ma’am encouraged me and gave me the confidence that I could do it.


Despite trying to keep myself as calm as possible, I was still extremely nervous and although I started well, I forgot parts of my pattern in the middle of my routine. I was extremely disappointed with my own performance. I was determined to train even harder to prepare more for the future competitions. Carnation Ma’am also reminded me that winning was not everything and it was the experience that mattered the most.

Soon after, there was an announcement from the organisers for participants to join the Sparring competition. I realised that I had another chance to compete. Although I had not sparred for more than 6 months, I wanted to give it a try. After consulting with my coaches and mum, I decided to take part. My sparring coach Shaun Sir gave me a rundown of sparring tips and short practice, then I went straight into the competition.

I tried my best and we fought a good match. I was happy to receive a Bronze medal, and glad to make new friends with my fellow sparring category mates. I am also very grateful to Zest Martial Arts team for lending me a set of sparring gear.



The events in the afternoon were the most exciting to watch, as the adults and Black Belt Sparring competitions drew lots of crowds and cheering. They were displaying a lot of good techniques and different styles, and I learnt a lot from watching them.


We ended the day with a scrumptious Malaysian local dinner with many of my favourite dishes like satay and fried chicken wings at Jalan Alor night market.


The next day, we went shopping at Mid Valley Megamall and had a relaxing lunch with my mum and coaches.

This was an unforgettable experience and I am thankful to have such support from my coaches and my mother. I would also like to thank Master Sng for his encouragement, training and guidance. They really helped me through this whole learning experience.


Thank you Master Sng, Shaun Sir, Carnation Ma’am and my dearest mummy!



Written by Mr. Gabriel Chong, Junior Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018

3rd Annual Everest Open Championship 2018

3rd Annual Everest Open Championship 2018

In September 2018, Island Taekwon-Do Centre was honoured to participate in the 3rd Annual Everest Open Championship and Master’s Seminar in Nepal. Arriving in Kathmandu’s small airport, we were caught up in a whirlwind of activity. We were warmly greeted by Ang Temba and Ngima Sherpa, friends and supporters of ITC, in Nepal.

Our new friends whisked us expertly through the busy airport and, together, we began our journey by car to Dhulikhel to meet our competitors and hosts. As we drove, we climbed up, and out of the Kathmandu valley in the dark of night. Ang Temba and Ngima taught us a few Nepali phrases and gave us a bit of history about their small nation. When we finally arrive in Dhulikhel, we collapsed into our beds after our long journey from Singapore, which was two time zones ahead.

On our first day in Nepal, we were greeted by a stunning 180-degree panorama of the Himalayan range. As we wandered over to enjoy a hearty breakfast with Ang Temba and Ngima, chanting and incense from the Buddhist ashram filled the air, next door. The four of us enjoyed our coffees on the hotel balcony, as eagles wheeled in the air and clouds rolled over the mountains. Our Nepalese adventure had barely begun and we were already spellbound!

After breakfast we changed into our doboks and proceeded to the function hall where we were greeted by Mr. Basnet, President of ITF Nepal, Master Yogi Chand, who had come from the UK to lead the seminar, and our fellow competitors from Nepal and India. When the 200 or so of us were called to attention and shouted “Taekwon!” the excitement in the room was palpable.

Master Chand started his seminar with patterns and proceeded from lower to higher-ranking colour belts. Black belts and international instructors performed the patterns with each group of colour belts giving other color belts an opportunity to work with a range of instructors and to receive guidance. By the end of the morning, the colour belts had completed their patterns and the black belts had been put through their paces.

After lunch, Master Chand moved on to three-step and two-step sparring before dismissing the colour belts and continuing with black belts. The seminar offered valuable knowledge about techniques and served as an opportunity to meet and train with fellow Taekwon-Do-ists from dojangs in Nepal, India and the Netherlands. The atmosphere was warm and friendly, the children were especially interested in us newcomers, and over dinner we even had the chance to get to know our fellow competitors better.

On our second day in Nepal the competition began. Once we had our breakfast, we climbed the hill on which the Mirabel Hotel is built, and arrived to see a breathtaking marquee tent, gleaming golden in the sun. Around 150 children from all over Nepal had come together that day and each and every one of them awed us with their enthusiasm and dedication as they sparred and performed patterns.

Nepal 2018 (5)

While I was umpiring with the other adult black belts, Tabatha made friends with the local children, learned their names and practiced patterns with them. When the children were done with their category, the adult colour belt category commenced.

Nepal 2018 (1)

As Tabatha performed Dan-Gun, her new friends cheered her on. We broke for the day as the sun began to set behind the mountains and the shadows crept long over the tent. At dinner we relived the day’s excitement and got to know each other a bit better over a delicious Nepalese meal.

Nepal 2018 (3)

On day three, it was the black belts’ turn. As the experienced competitors wowed the tent with their techniques, enthusiasm began to build. By lunchtime, as the under 14 black belts were finishing up, the tent was abuzz with excitement.

Dylan performed Yoon-Sin for the patterns portion of his competition and, as he readied himself for sparring, clouds rolled in and the sky darkened. As if on cue, a storm swelled as the adult black belts walked onto the mat for the first sparring match. Dylan opened the match with a dramatic display of technique and as he did, the crowd leapt to their feet cheering! The spectators’ cheers continued as the match grew more thrilling, and the rain pressed everyone into the tent. Thunder and lightning made a dramatic soundtrack for the last match, which was followed by a show of traditional Nepalese dancing.

After the matches, we had the medals ceremony, which was a joyous occasion as the rain pounded the tent. The national minister of forestry presented the awards to the winning competitors and the local press took photos and videos. We were very proud to have represented Singapore and we both took home medals; Tabatha won a silver for patterns, her very first competition medal, and Dylan won a gold for sparring, gold for patterns and a trophy for best overall male player.

Nepal 2018 (2)

After their speeches, Mr. Basnet and Master Chand closed the ceremony by calling us all to attention. Together in one voice, several hundred of us bowed and shouted “Taekwon!”.

Dinner at The Mirabel that evening was relaxing and cheerful as we traded contact information with the other teams. On the following morning, Mr. Basnet took us to visit the beautiful Thrangu Tashi Yanftse Monastery, high on a hill overlooking the valley. As we toured the monastery and explored the trail across the ridges, we learned about the site’s history; a 6000 year old Buddhist legend. Of course we also posed for pictures with our new friends and even performed some patterns by the stupa at the top of the hill!

Nepal 2018 (4)

We were honored to visit Mr. Basnet’s home, where we had the most delicious spiced tea, and then returned to Kathmandu where we were treated to momos and other home cooked Nepalese food by Ang Temba and Ngima. We were delighted to visit their home and hear their stories of growing up in the shadow of Mount Everest.

Our last few days in Nepal were spent as tourists. Although we saw many amazing temples and museums, the most memorable experiences of the trip were those spent with the friends we had made at the competition and seminar. We look forward to the next Everest Open!


Written by Mr. Dylan Coughlan, 3rd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2018

Check out Dylan’s sparring match here: Adult Black Belt Sparring FINAL Match (SG vs IN)

Personal Experience: Trip to Japan

Personal Experience: Trip to Japan

It has been awhile since my last overseas trip with my family. With the recent visit from Mr Kenichi Nonaka and his team of Taekwon-Do members from Japan to Singapore, (click here to read about his recent visit). I decided to pay a visit to his club in Matsumoto, Japan.

Mr Kenichi Nonaka has been a frequent guest to Island Taekwon-Do Centre, making annual trips to Singapore and attending at least one training session each time, as well as bringing his students for exchange programs with ITC since 2012. I have always been looking forward to meeting and training with him and his students whenever he comes to Singapore.

When Mr Nonaka heard of my plan to travel to Japan months ago, we started conversing via Facebook about the details of my trip. In addition, he also arranged with Ms Hayashi and Ms Sakanoue (they were with the Japan team when they came to Singapore in March) to contact me in regards to visiting Tokyo with my family. I felt that my time in Taekwon-Do has allowed me to make friends in Singapore and other parts of the the world. With that, I packed my bags and left for the land of the rising sun.

With the ladies in Tokyo 1

Arriving at Haneda airport on the 22nd of May, I was met by Ms Sakanoue who picked us (my family and me) from the airport. We proceeded to take the airport coach to the hotel. A short gathering with Ms Hayashi and Ms Sakanoue was scheduled for dinner the next day as we met up to share stories between countries as well as talk about their trip to Singapore in March.

My family and I travelled to Matsumoto on the 25th of May via the limit express train, the duration was about two and a half hours. Matsumoto is a cosy town in the Nagano Prefecture and it gives a very country-like feeling. Mr Nonaka picked me up from my hotel in the evening and we travelled to the dojang which was a 5-minute drive away from the hotel. The dojang was housed in a 3-floor building with the first floor for Taekwon-Do and the subsequent floors for Judo and Kendo.

Outside Dojang

Training at Matsumoto was a different feeling. The air was cool and there was no need for an air conditioner in the dojang. Before the class started, I had an opportunity to practice patterns with Mr Enami. He did say that he hadn’t been practicing for about a year, however, he didn’t seem to forget any of the patterns.

As the members arrived at the dojang, the evening training commenced shortly with Mr Nonaka taking the class. Training started with warm up exercises from head to toe. Next, everyone was asked to head to the sides of the dojang. Using the wall as a support, drills on Turning Kicks, Side Piercing Kicks and Side Rising Kicks were executed. Many of the students were very flexible and performed high-stretched kicks which were difficult to achieve.

Next up was partner stretching. I partnered with Mr Nasu who cautiously applied pressure onto my inflexible body. When I was done stretching, every other pair had completed their exercises. There was a well-needed water break was after that.

The next part of the class was on fundamental movements. Mr Nonaka explained each movement with great detail and the proper execution of each fundamental hand technique. Mr Nonaka also explained some of the common mistakes made in the fundamental movements and also emphasised on the hip twisting and sine waves when executing the moves. Even with the limited Japanese language I had, I was able to understand and improve on the technical knowledge. Mr Nonaka’s dedication to Taekwon-Do can be seen through the way he explained each move in great detail, and it is really an honour to be taught by him in his club.

The highlight of the class came next as we partnered up for bag kicking. The training was conducted into 2 parts, the first part consisted of lining up and did kicks from the back to the front of the dojang while taking turns to hold on to the kicking pads. The second part was done by doing the kicks in pairs and timed with a stopwatch. Kicks practiced were Turning kicks, Reverse Turning Kicks and Back Piercing Kicks to name a few. The kicks that I had received were full of power and of great speed even from colour belts as well.

The next part of the class was patterns with a catch, for every pattern mistake made, 10 push up penalty followed. I could see after every pattern, the students without hesitation, when down to do their push up if they had made a mistake showing their integrity and character.

The class ends off with sparring. Due to time constraints, we did not wear our guards, gloves or boots. 3 rounds of sparring, and I had the opportunity to meet and exchange techniques with Mr Enami, Mr Nasu and Mr Surya who threw many fast reverse turning kicks at me with control. I felt that I will have a concussion if actual contact was executed.

Picture with everyone 2

With that, the class ended, I shook hands and took photos with the students who attended the day’s class. I distributed to them some souvenirs and Red Bull from Singapore that Mr Nonaka always liked. We next went for dinner at a Yakitori (Japanese Satay) joint in Matsumoto where we ate and chatted. During the dinner, everyone was in high spirits and the atmosphere was very light and friendly.

Picture with everyone

While we were happily chatting, time just flew by and soon it was close to 11pm, and we finally said goodbye as many of the students had work or school the next day. We took pictures in front of the restaurant and I bid farewell to everyone, hoping to return to Matsumoto again for training.

Picture with everyone 4

I would like to sincerely thank Mr Nonaka, for his hospitality during my trip, as well as all the arrangements that he has made for me to attend his training session. Matsumoto is a nice place and I will definitely drop by again if I visit Japan in future.

With Kenichi-sir

I would also like to thank Ms Sakanoue and Ms Hayashi for taking time off their busy schedule to meet up with my family for meals and identifying some local places of interest in Tokyo for my family to visit.

With the ladies in Tokyo 2

I would also like to thank Master Sng for inspiring me to do up this piece of article to share my experiences and training overseas.

Last but not least, to thank my family (Dad, Mum and Brother) for accompanying me in this trip to pursue my interests, as well as the financially as well. =)

Joel Mok

Written by Mr. Joel Mok, 2nd Degree Black Belt, ITF Singapore
© Island Taekwon-Do Centre 2015