Taekwondo, that literally translates as the way of the feet and the fist, is a passion with Megha Joshi, a passion that has won her a barrelful of medals in the national and international arenas. In conversation with Kaushik Joshi
The boxing bout that first captivated her as a pre-teen has today morphed into a realisation that every girl should be equipped with one of the martial arts that will stand her in good stead to face the dangers of this world.
It was at a local sports institute in Ahmedabad that she first saw a martial arts class in session. “It was love at first sight for me,” says the bubbly Megha Joshi.
And then began her date with taekwondo (TKD for short), a popular martial art practised by more than 70 million people in 188 countries.
It was also featured in movies starring Jean Claude van Damme and Chuck Norris.
Megha is passionate about the sport. Not at the cost of academics, of course. She juggles her studies with her interest for TKD with ease. A third year student of electronics and communication at the Silver Oak College of Engineering in Ahmedabad, she recently bagged silver at the 5th South Asian Invitational Taekwondo Championship 2016, held in Bangalore.
Over the years, the slog and hard work have got her 5 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at the national TKD events of the International Taekwondo Federation. “Winning lights up my life. Supported by hardcore training, I feel I must give my best,” says Megha.
Out of the several styles TKD offers, blocks is her favourite. Blocking is the act of deflecting an opponent’s attack for the purpose of evading injury by raising your hands. More than the breezy liveliness that the sport brings, it has gone a long way in imbibing discipline and improving focus, and keeping fit.
Injuries like cuts, bruises and sprains are part of any martial art and she has had her share. The one that caused a nose bleed during the national event in 2007 in Calcutta is one that has remained etched in her memory.
“It was the semi-final. I forced myself to overcome my fear, participated in the event and bagged a silver,” she fondly reminisces.
Being a city girl, she feels she is fortunate to have made her mark in a sport that is dear to her. But she rues the fact that the young aspirants in rural India are deprived of facilities.
“There is lots of focus on cricket in our country. It has become a sport of entertainment. It is also linked to politics and betting. Every sport should get its due. As for the girls in rural areas who are keen on sports, the scene is bleak,” says Megha.
She feels that mixed martial arts should be made mandatory in schools and colleges as protecting ourselves has become the need of the hour.
“With crimes against women having reached an all-time high in our country, time demands that all women, irrespective of their age, learn some form of martial art that could help them defend themselves,” feels Megha.
“Our films and television serials tend to normalise the invasion of a woman’s space and her body. Stalking has also become a form of cinematic romance,” she adds.Her statement is borne out by the young protagonists in Soojit Sircar’s Pink. Women today go through these experiences every single day. They may not go to the police or move courts but they feel the same outrage.
“Women should also vocalise injustices on gender equality by being aware of their rights and by understanding themselves better. We have freedom and job opportunities today like never before but we have to fight male domination. As women have become stronger today, men find them as threats to their age-old domination,”says Megha matter-of-factly.
Taekwondo, also known as TKD, originated in South Korea. It is a blend of karate and Chinese martial arts with local Korean martial arts traditions. It was developed in the 1940s and 1950s after the Japanese left their occupation of Korea. A plethora of martial arts schools called kwans sprang up in Seoul.
TKD was also adopted by the South Korean military which simultaneously raised its popularity among civilians.
It was Choi Hong Hi who named the art taekwondo. Choi established the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) way back in 1966, breaking away from the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA).
TKD lays emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping and spinning kicks and fast kicking techniques. The word tae means foot, kwon means fist and do means way of, thus meaning ‘the way of the feet and the fist.’
The TKD uniform is called the dobok and the place where it is practised is called the dojang.
Taekwondo was recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as a demonstration sport in the Olympics in 1988. In the year 2000, taekwondo made its debut as an official Olympic sport.
Although it is an effective weaponless art of self-defence, it is also a competitive sport and method of maintaining all-round fitness.
It is one of the two popular Asian martial games—the other being judo.
The tenets of TKD are courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.
The TKD Oath
• I undertake to comply with the principles of taekwondo
• I undertake to respect my coaches and all superiors
• I undertake to never abuse taekwondo
• I pledge to stand up for freedom and justice
• I undertake to cooperate in the creation of a more peaceful world.