Sunday, 18 December 2011

Barack Obama Taekwondo?

I dont know how my google search lead me to Barack Obama practicing Taekwondo but I found it quite interesting to say the least.

In 2009 when Obama visited South Korea for the first time as president, he was awarded an honorary Black Belt.  Research a little more and you will find that he actually practiced Taekwondo from 2001 until 2004 and earned a green belt but some sites claim he went all the way to blue belt. 

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak personally chose the gift in recognition of Obama's past interest in the Korean martial art, as reported on the World Taekwondo Federation website.

Obama seems pretty pumped about his new achievement

President Obama and Lee trade moves as he is awarded his new Black Belt!!

Click here to see Obama's perfect timing.  Pretty impressive I think.  ;)

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

It's time to give

On December 12th, 2011 I realized we needed to implement our annual Authentic Toy Drive, again.  Last year I think we had about 30 toys and this year we would like to at least beat that.  So my idea was that anyone who brings a toy will receive membership to our facilities FREE.  As you may already know, we offer over a dozen different types of programs consisting of Martial Arts, Fitness and lots of fun.  These programs are enjoyed by both children and adults.  We hope to reach out to as many children who may not receive a toy and at the same time introduce people to the world of Fitness and Martial Arts.

All the money in the world means nothing if you don't have your health (physical and moral)

Join our facebook event

The Christmas season is upon us and we want to give as much as possible. Authentic Taekwondo in conjunction with Seibukan Karate and Invest in Fitness have embraced this charitable season and want to reach out to as many individuals as possible. All you have to do is, bring in a toy and we will give you two weeks, free access to any program, beginning January 9th. Our quality programs are safe, effective and fun for adults and children. So bring in a toy and feel good morally and after a great workout, feel even better physically.
We offer the following programs for a new unwrapped toy:

TaekwondoKarateBootcampYogaKickboxingJiu Jitsu (Brazilian and Japanese),

 Womens Self Defense, Aikido, MMA, Yoshin Ryu Bujutsu (Weapons)

This year, we will be supporting the CP24 Chum Christmas Wish, as it is a great organization with a history of charity and giving. Please spread the word and invite your friends to give and receive this holiday season.

For more information about our programs please visit our website at or call us at 905 947-1235

We wish you a Merry Christmas and may all your wishes come true this holiday season.

Warm regards,

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Some of my favorite quotes...

1.  "Others may predict but only I will determine my destiny"
2.  "I'd rather die than to drink from the cup of mediocrity"
3.  "You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life?" ~ Rumi
4.  " The first step in acquisition of wisdom is silence, the second listening, the third memory, the fourth in practice and the fifth in teaching others."  Solomon Ibn Gabriol
5.  "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade"
6.  "If you're going through hell, keep going."

Monday, 5 September 2011

Train Your Dreams

The memories of my training sessions are still as vivid as some of my most memorable fights. I learned very early on in my athletic career that if you don't train consistently, you will not be able to achieve your goals in competitions. I also realized that there are some odd "natural" athletes who don't need to train regularly, and they show up to tournaments to collect their hardware. Unfortunately, I was not one of these gifted individuals. 

I used to train regularly 3 hours a day, 4 times a week and increased my  training substantially as the competition grew wider. I felt the Dojang was my second home. I spent majority of my afternoons  there and even my Taekwondo classmates used to tease me "Don't you have a life? You're here almost everyday". But I took pride in my discipline and with a smile on my face I replied: "I know, isn't it crazy?". And seconds later I was on the mats practicing my kicks time and again. The truth is I didn't have access to video games or any other extra-curricular activities, the Dojang was the only alternative I had to escape the daily routine . Many of my friends outside of Taekwondo were facing their teenage dilemmas, such as zits, girls, driving licences and hanging out at the mall but all that paled in comparison to the excitement of kicking and punching.

 My days were marked by the same routine, going to school, training, having a Slurpee at seven eleven and riding the train home with Daniel Kim (one of my first training partners and long time friend).
Daniel Kim standing in defence 

The main topic of our discussions was religion, whose religion was better and who was more right between Jesus and Mohammad. Our competitive nature didn't leave us even after long and extenuating training sessions. There were days that we offended each other so much that even though we took the same train home we refused to speak to one another. Fortunately, Taekwondo represented a great way of reconciliation. God didn't take sides but watched as we kicked the crap out of each other to the point of unwavering respect to give up. 

Friendships like this one have lasted to this day, and despite distance and obligations we keep in touch on a regular basis.  Interestingly, as the battles of competition grew more intense so did the friendships and closeness of our team.  The entire year of training was intense, but summer was my favourite time. While majority of competitors tended to take summer off and indulged in long breaks, the dedicated ones stuck around and trained even harder and more frequently.
Morning and afternoon sessions included running to Sir Winston Church Hill park. The first time I looked up at the hill, it seemed so big and intimidating that I doubted myself, but my senior teammates were doing it and I didn't want to be left behind. It was a struggle at the beginning but I managed to conquer the hill that summer and every summer thereafter.  The hill was not the only challenge of those afternoon outdoor sessions, we also climbed 50 steps and finished up with a few laps around the park. It was tough, we were drained, wheezing and out of breath but we had each other to push and encourage and at the end of the day, we felt great.

Unfortunately, an athletes journey is not only composed of highlights but also moments of defeat.  Sometimes coming back from competition where I had endured a devastating set back or loss, and an entire year of training was down the drain , I felt my drive was abandoning me.  But we have goals and a commitment to ourselves to achieve what is within our reach.  There is nothing wrong with being frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed but I don't think any of these feelings are strong enough to lead us astray from our ultimate dream.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

When Opportunity knocks

Hi my name is Akmal Farah and this blog is not only about Taekwondo but more so about life.
My passion for Martial Arts started when I was only 5 years old.  Growing up in Afghanistan was a daily challenge, and TV and movies represented a good way to escape the reality for me and many of my fellow kids.
At that time Bruce Lee was a popular figure and his tough minded philosophy coupled with the Bollywood  "happily ever after" style changed my perception of reality. I started to dream to become one of these strong characters, always tougher and stronger despite any adversary.

I was five years old and my older siblings served as points of reference, therefore I took the courage to ask my oldest brother, who was practicing boxing, to take me to a martial arts club cause I wanted to become a fighter. Unfortunately for me, I was considered too young for having such a desire and my request was simply denied. 

Time passed by quickly, and in 1980's Russians invaded Afghanistan, and war  begun. We saw a strong uprising of Afghan people against the invaders with the help of United States. Sometimes at night when it is quiet outside, I can still recall the sound of tanks and machine gun arsenal that characterized many of my childhood nights.  My country was no longer safe and my parents decided to leave everything behind for a new home and a better future.

My family amongst millions of other Afghans, fled Afghanistan against the wishes of the government, through the mountainous terrain, with very little food, water and security. It took us 16 treacherous days to get to our neighbouring country Pakistan,  but we finally made it.

My dreams to become a Martial artist had not superseded me and I was still determined to follow my vocation in one way or another, but other difficulties came into the picture. First, we all knew that our stay in Pakistan was going to be temporary . Second, my family was advised not to leave a young child alone. And third, money started to become an issue for a family of seven. Again I was told to wait.

On Feb 24th, 1989 we landed in Canada and I felt my problems were finally over. I was eleven with a new life ahead of me and my family. What more could I possibly ask for? Suddenly, all my dreams were coming true, and with them my desire to become a martial artist had re-ignited. But my reality once again failed to match my fervid expectations. Immigrant's life was not exactly the life I was picturing in my young and naive mind. Nothing was going the way I planned. My family's struggle was not yet to be over. Money, a new language, a new culture became my new enemy, and all of a sudden I found myself waiting again. My good friends were movies, this time Van Dam was my company during my lonely afternoon , I couldn't get enough of his Martial Arts movies or any other for that matter.

Finally, one afternoon in 1994 my oldest brother came up to me with a great news. He said that he had been thinking about me and my enthusiasm towards martial arts and after conducting a research amongst his friends he had found a club for me. This was the beginning of my journey in the doorsteps of 44 Vaughn Rd. at Young Choung Taekwondo, and despite many turbulences I faced during my journey, I enjoyed every moment and never looked back. 
I felt my time was right and the opportunity to be best had arrived.  I trained daily with religious discipline, and even though I was a beginner Master Choung allowed me to train with the higher belts who were competing provincially, Nationally and internationally. Of course, I got beat up a lot, but I loved every kick, every bruise and every echo of chest protector and targets.  I was a normal kid, not the fastest nor the strongest, but the one with desire.  Desire to be like Bruce Lee and to challenge my adversaries like Bollywood movie characters. My desire proved something completely different: I was one of the strongest fighters.

I can't help but look back on a regular basis and wonder what would have happened to me had I not been introduced to a quality school with inspirational instructors and members.  There are many martial arts clubs in Toronto but very few could inspire armies of fighters the way Master Choung did.  Very few coaches treated their athletes like brothers the way Tino Dossantos did, and there are very few teams as close as those at Young Choung Taekwondo.

I had other friends who went through the same trials and tribulations of a difficult life and a new opportunity presented to them here in Canada but unfortunately they did not achieve the same level of success because their environment was wrong.  Most of them quit halfway to their black belt and the remainder quit right after.
I strongly believe that my success was not only about myself but also about people I was surrounded with, starting from Master Choung and the instructors to my teammates and the Juniors, who are todays national and international champions. 
The people we surround ourselves with coupled with the obstacles we face determine our level of thinking and ultimately our end result.