An Olympic-style taekwando tournament is coming to Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
With a major event planned for December, taekwondo students in Bahrain are gearing up for the opportunity to showcase their skills and prepare for future international competitions. Despite having only recently returned from his role as coach to the Al Doy Olympic Centre team at the eighth annual ChunCheon Open International Taekwondo Championships in Korea, Abdulla Isa Al Doy has already turned his attention to the next season, planning ahead and making sure the buzz word in Bahrain is ‘taekwondo’.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a father by day and professional takewondo artist by night. My children also follow in my footsteps. Isa, 22, is a fourth degree black belt, while Reem, 18, is a second degree black belt. You could say my life has been taken over by taekwondo, but besides this I love motor and sea sports, which is a result of my stint in the Bahrain Royal Navy.
When did your interest in martial arts start? Were you always interested in taekwondo? It all started with an interest in Japanese martial arts, Budo Kan-Karate, at the tender of age of nine, which lasted five years. After meeting a taekwondo master at age 14, I was fascinated by the full contact sparring nature of the game, so my interest shifted to taekwondo permanently. This is when I became a practitioner.
How good at taekwondo are you? I’m a seventh degree black belt and first class international referee, so I’m pretty clued up when it comes to the sport. I’m also a commissioner at the US Taekwondo Martial Arts Board. For those of you who don’t know the stages of belts, they go in this colour order: white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, red and black. Each colour represents a certain phase in a student’s developing skills, with the black belt having 10 degrees.
What is the standard of martial arts like in the region, and especially in Bahrain? Regionally, it’s very popular, especially because it is an Olympic sport. Its popularity has been progressing noticeably since the beginning of the ’90s. Locally, it’s growing slowly, with people’s awareness being more focused on the importance of knowing self defence techniques. This is helped by the number of martial arts schools growing rapidly.
Why should anybody get involved in learning martial arts? What are the benefits? And what are the disadvantages? There are many benefits like any sport, but notably there is an increase in self confidence, enhanced physicality and sharpened mentality, self discipline, social interaction and cooperation, thus improving society as a whole, achieving one’s athletic goals as part of professional sportsmanship, with an increase in indomitable spirit. The main disadvantage of the sport is the fact it can result in injuries if not practised under a knowledgeable master and if protection measures are not undertaken, especially in full contact sparring.
What’s a good age to learn? And what do you need to be good at prior to learning? Martial arts generally benefit all ages, however the best age to start is at infancy, since flexibility is at its highest peak and muscles are easily conditioned. The sport requires a good physical and fitness level, so you should consider joining a gym and partaking in fitness routines parallel to your martial art training.
How does it feel to have a big taekwondo event in Bahrain? This tournament will be organised on par with any other Olympic event. An Olympic set-up is unusual in the region, so I hope we really make ourselves proud with this. In terms of the event management, there will be an awards ceremony, prizes and a great sporting atmosphere. This will inspire the youngsters in Bahrain.
What can we expect? In 2011 this tournament will be for the Bahraini locals and the resident expats for the junior and sub-junior age category. In 2012 it will be an open tournament for competitors from the rest of the world for the three age categories – senior, junior and sub-juniors. This will only go ahead once we have trained all our volunteers extensively and taught organisers how to handle such events.
What does this mean to have Bahrain as the host and what benefits will arise? Organising such a tournament will place Bahrain on the global map of taekwondo and attract international- standard competitors from the five continents. This will benefit our local participants and elevate their sparring experience. Information for volunteers will be published through local media. For taekwondo lessons, contact Riffa Sports Club (17 651 126).