Taekwondo is a martial arts discipline which originated in Korea and is based on the meaning of these three Korean words:
Tae = kick; Kwon = punch and Do = “the way or the discipline”.
The naive may see a Thailand connection by mispronouncing ‘Tae’ as ‘Thai’. This word should be pronounced as ‘Tay’ (as in play), so the name of this combative sport is not related to Thailand. However Taekwondo is widely practiced in Thailand with a rapidly growing following.
Thailand’s international performances on the international Taekwondo stage have provided a major impetus for the sport’s growth in the country.
After becoming an Olympic Games sport for the first time in 2000, Yaowapa Boorapolchai winning a bronze medalist in the women’s under 49 kg event at the 2004 Summer Olympics was a remarkable achievement. At the 2014 Asian Games Chanatip Sonkham took gold with a decisive 10-3 victory over China’s Li Zhaoyi in the 49 kg final.
More recently Thailand again achieved Olympics honours as the 2016 games with Tawin Hanprab winning silver for the men’s 58 kg men’s event and Panipak Wongpattanakit winning bronze in the women’s 49kg event.
Taekwondo’s introduction to Thailand can be traced back to the early 1970’s when Korean experts were sent around the world to develop and teach Taekwondo on an international scale. This followed the sport’s birth in 1955 in Korea.
Our introduction to Taekwondo meant a visit to Pranburi where Frenchman JeanPierre Berrie was instructing and training a very eager group of students in his newly established BJP Elite Academy or Hansoo Pranburi. Elite is not overstating the standard of instruction with Jean-Pierre as a former French champion and with his sons Alexandre and Benjamin also achieving that recognition being involved in showing students how. All teachers are graduates of the Kukkiwon-The World Taekwondo Federation. Hansoo Pranburi has instruction from Friday to Sunday each week for all ages and skill level. Otherwise Hansoo Pattaya takes up Jean-Pierre’s time on other weekdays as the largest Taekwondo academy in Chonburi. The youngest participant during our visit was a 3 year old girl also proudly wearing the two-piece white uniform or ‘dobok’. She seemed undaunted by the instructions with Korean words as the authentic way to convey the meaning of the moves. The children of police and military officers were prominent amongst the trainees; all aiming for the coveted black belt status which can be achieved after three years instruction and dedication. It may seem somewhat incongruous that a native of Bordeaux, France is excelling in the instruction of a Korean martial art in Pranburi Thailand, although Jean-Pierre has been living in Thailand for around 20 years. He still commutes to his home country frequently, particularly as his sons gain more international recognition in their sport in Europe. Meanwhile the opportunity to receive the highest level of Taekwondo instruction locally provides a big incentive to become yet another champion of this rapidly expanding sport in Thailand.
Where: Opposite the Bangkok Bank in central Petchakasem Road Pranburi
When: Fridays 5.30 – 7.00 pm; Saturdays 10.00 – 11.30 am
Tel. 0865535067, www.facebook.com/jeanpierre.berrie