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Taekwondo Practitioners From Around The World Gathered In Korea

World Affairs – Sports

Open Eyes Opinion {source: KEgov}

South Korea

Taekwondo unites global community

Taekwondo practitioners from around the world gathered in Korea to demonstrate their polished skills and abilities.The 2015 World Taekowndo Hanmadang ran from July 30 to August 2 at the Ichung Culture and Sports Center in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do Province. The international competition brought together a total of 4,623 taekwondo practitioners from 62 countries, including Asia, Oceania, Europe and Africa.

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Participants in the 2015 World Taekwondo Hanmadang in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi-do Province, show off their attack and defense techniques and board-breaking skills.

Under the slogan “Unifying the World With Taekwondo,” the competition marked its 23rd run this year. During the four-day event, competitors demonstrated their basic taekwondo techniques, known as poomsae, and board-breaking skills. No matter what color their skin, no matter what their nationality, the sport brought them together as one.

Bajraj Kumar, an Indian competitor, said, “I’ve practiced taekwondo for two years at a taekwondo school in my hometown. This is my first time to come to Korea and I am so excited to be here.”

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Taekwondo practitioners from the U.S. warm up before their demonstration on July 31 during the 2015 World Taekwondo Hanmadang competition.

The Korean participants were just as excited as the Indian martial artists, as they watched people from around the world perform their indigenous martial art. Lee Han-bi, a student in his third year of high school at Howon High School in Uijeongbu, Gyeonggi Province, said, “Although Korea is the country from which the sport originated, people from other countries practice harder and display quite a high level of taekwondo ability, even better than we Koreans. I am really motivated by just seeing them. As a Korean, I am so proud to see many people from the global community know about and practice our sport.”

The participants competed in a total of 14 events, including the forefist punch, the “knife hand” or “chop,” the side or back kick, the high-jump kick, the long jump kick and the combined skills event.

Rwanda came in first place in the female senior combined skills event, while the gold medal in the male senior combined skills event went to Vietnam. In the group competition for seniors, the Philippines seized first prize for the second consecutive year, followed by the U.S. team.

“Participation in the competition means a lot to me, though,” said Barb Kunkel, a coach on the U.S. team. “I want to plant the seeds in other kids. I mean, I want to give them an opportunity to come to taekwondo’s mother country and see the nation itself. They came here to see how much everybody loves it.”

Kunkel was a gold medalist in taekwondo at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and she has since opened a taekwondo school in Colorado. Her “Academy of Life and Leadership Taekwondo” center is training and fostering a new generation of taekwondo practitioners, she said.

“I feel like I am now planting those seeds in their life. I know that they are able to make a difference in their community. With their participation here, they will get a bigger picture than that found only in the U.S,” she said.

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Members of the U.S. taekwondo team hold up sheets of paper on which they wrote their answer to the question, ‘What does taekwondo mean to you?’ Some of their answers are ‘passion,’ ‘life’ and ‘friendship.’

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Answers that young Korean participants in the competition come up with when asked, ‘What does taekwondo mean to you?’ include ‘my vitamins,’ ‘my heart’ and ‘my life.’

By Sohn JiAe
Photos: Jeon Han
Korea.net Staff Writers

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[photo credits – featured image: “Guard statue in a Korean temple” by frakorea – http://www.flickr.com/photos/framore/80930328/. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Guard_statue_in_a_Korean_temple.jpg#/media/File:Guard_statue_in_a_Korean_temple.jpg]

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