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Martial appeal

Martial arts, often regarded as the exquisite fusion of self-defence, endurance and raw physical prowess, has surpassed borders to become a global phenomenon. This dynamic discipline, boasting a myriad of distinctive techniques and unique characteristics, has rooted itself in the hearts of enthusiasts worldwide.

From the graceful silat manoeuvres to the explosive kicks of taekwondo, the calculated throws of judo, the disciplined strikes of karate, to the mesmerising forms of wushu, martial arts offers a diverse collection of traditions and styles that captivate practitioners and spectators alike across the globe.

Mastering the intricate moves and routines inherent in martial arts not only cultivates physical fitness but serves as an unmatched channel for nurturing self-discipline and refining essential social skills.

The universal appeal of martial arts transcends borders, as each country boasts its distinctive form, and Brunei Darussalam stands out with its own art and culture embedded in its martial heritage. The legacy of martial arts persists through the ages, seamlessly passed down from one generation to the next, embodying a continuum of tradition and skill.

In Brunei, the martial arts scene is steeped in rich tradition, with silat or pencak silat taking the spotlight, an artistry that has evolved over centuries in the Malay world. However, the local sporting community’s fascination doesn’t stop there, as the art of taekwondo has been steadily gaining prominence in recent decades.

Taekwondo boasts a diverse demographic of enthusiasts, including schoolchildren. PHOTO: JAMES WK
ABOVE & BELOW: Taekwondo practitioners during a competition. PHOTO: JAMES WK

While pencak silat holds deep historical roots, the dynamic rise of taekwondo adds a contemporary flair to Brunei’s martial arts landscape, showcasing a diverse range of disciplines capturing the attention of enthusiasts across the nation.

Originating in Korea, taekwondo stands proudly as a martial art deeply embedded in the cultural fabric of its home country, recognised even at the pinnacle of global athletic competition – the Olympic Games. Its name itself, translated as the “art of kicking and punching”, encapsulates the dynamic essence of this disciplined practice.

Beyond the borders of Southeast Asia, taekwondo has transcended geographical confines, capturing the attention and commitment of enthusiasts worldwide. This extends to the Sultanate, where the sport has found a steadfast following over the decades.

In this serene corner of the world, this martial art boasts not only a considerable number of devoted practitioners but also a diverse demographic of enthusiasts, encompassing not just teenagers but also schoolchildren.

The wide-reaching appeal of taekwondo, with its emphasis on both physical prowess and mental discipline, continues to make its mark as a revered martial art in the Sultanate.

On the national stage, our athletes are diligently immersed in daily training activities, honing their skills in preparation for both domestic and international competitions.

Their commitment was vividly demonstrated with outstanding achievements at prestigious events, including clinching a gold medal and bronze at the Seongnam World Taekwondo Hanmadang Championship, as well as securing one gold and two silver medals at the 2019 Korean Ambassador’s Cup Taekwondo World Championship in Korea.

These triumphs unequivocally underscore the prowess of our national athletes, showcasing their ability to compete at an elite level on the global platform.

Furthermore, the 3rd Korean Ambassador Cup Brunei Darussalam Taekwondo Championship 2023 held at the Sungai Kebun Sports Complex in September not only drew participation from local clubs but also attracted competitors from neighbouring countries, exemplifying the widespread popularity of the sport.

The competition featured a diverse array of events, from speed turning kicks, 360 speed turning kicks, and high jump kicks to fist breaking, hand knife breaking, and various Poomsae categories.

The enthusiasm for taekwondo was palpable, with the regional scene witnessing Brunei’s junior exponents amassing an impressive medal haul in both Kyorugi and Poomsae events at the 12th Open Labuan Invitation Taekwondo Championship 2023 in June.

To excel as a taekwondo athlete, mastery of fundamental techniques is paramount.

The horse-riding stance, a cornerstone of the sport, plays a crucial role in achieving body balance and effective defence. Additionally, athletes must command a repertoire of basic techniques encompassing punching, kicking, blocking, and striking, forming the bedrock of their skill set.

Beyond the physical rigours, the benefits of taekwondo extend to holistic well-being. The sport enhances muscle strength, cardiovascular fitness, and heart health. The practice of taekwondo cultivates disciplined breathing, contributing to overall health and resilience.

Notably, engaging in taekwondo fosters self-confidence, a crucial attribute when confronting opponents or facing judges in competitive arenas. This newfound confidence manifests in relaxed and assured movements, fortifying the athlete’s stance and poise in every taekwondo encounter.

As the legacy of taekwondo endures and evolves in Brunei, the martial art continues to shape not only skilled athletes but also individuals with a strong foundation in tradition, discipline, and a holistic approach to physical and mental well-being. – Fadhil Yunus