IT WAS all about professional taekwondo at the 2nd Malaysia Open International Taekwondo Championship 2017 at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium.

The three-day championship included an Open category as well as age-group categories such as Below Seven Years (Sub Junior), 8-10 years (Junior), 11-13 years (Youth Junior) and 14-17 years (Youth Olympic) and 16 years and above (Olympic) for both male and female participants. There were also six weight divisions – Fin, Fly, Bantam, Light, Middle and Heavy.

According to organising chairman Visuvanathan Nagarajan, who is also known as Master Rajan in taekwondo circles, the championships was held to provide avenues for adult taekwondo exponents to display their technique and talent as well as to increase the pool of top-level taekwondo exponents in the country.

“We are trying to introduce a more professional approach, something like mixed martial arts, so we offer cash awards and a championship belt in the various categories,” he commented.

Female exponents in action in this Under 14-17 match.

Female exponents in action in this Under 14-17 match.

The championship belt and cash prizes of RM1,000 (champion), RM500 (runner-up) and RM250 (third) were offered in categories which drew 30 or more participants.

Each match had a duration of two minutes and during the bout a kick to the head would earn four points while one to the midriff would receive two points, and a punch one point. A foul would see the opponent being awarded points.

“We notice that while there are many in the sport at junior levels, a lot of them are dropping out after the age of 18.

“This may be after Form Five or university, so we want to encourage more adults to continue their interest in the sport and that’s why we started this event which the national body fully supports,” he said.

“In our competition, participants will have to fight eight to 10 matches before they can win the gold medal.

“In amateur events like the SEA Games, a gold medallist could come through just winning two or more matches,” explained Nagarajan, who was in the national team from 1992 to 1996.

Nagarajan speaking to the crowd at the event.

Nagarajan speaking to the crowd at the event.

Education Ministry Co-curricular and Arts Division senior assistant director Mohd Rashid Mean officiated at the event.

He confirmed that taekwondo was part of the co-curriculum and applauded efforts to expose students to international competitions.

The championship attracted 59 clubs from 10 countries – Indonesia, Canada, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Syria and Singapore – as well as Malaysia.

Firdaus Fighters Melaka emerged the overall champions of Kyorugi with six golds, seven silvers and four bronzes while Penang were second with five golds, seven silvers and eight bronzes.

In third place was Vision TKD Club with four golds, two silvers and one bronze.

Mohd Rashid handing out souvenirs to the participating teams as a representative from Ehsan Club in Iran, looks on.

Mohd Rashid handing out souvenirs to the participating teams as a representative from Ehsan Club in Iran, looks on.

One of the stirring matches on the second day was between Farel Patra Syaifullah from TKD Club Jambi, Indonesia and T. Yugan from Penang in the bantamweight 14-17 final.

The taller Indonesian scored on several high kicks and held the edge with quick reflexes and explosive technique. For his effort, he was awarded the championship belt.

The championships, which drew 600 participants was organised in collaboration with the Malaysia Taekwondo Association and the Education Ministry.

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