Interview: from student to teacher

Luis Felipe Jorge, a former student who became a teacher, told us how Taekwondo and AJTKD helped him succeed in life.

Tell us about your story. How did it all start?

I started practicing Taekwondo for fun, at a very young age, probably nine to ten years old. I only wanted to have fun and I was a very troublesome and mischievous kid. I saw my friends participating, it was a coincidence that the Community Taekwondo Project was being held at the school I studied, in the Campinho neighborhood. One day, Master Jadir presented a lecture at my school about Taekwondo, showing AJTKD’s work to the students and invited us to join. I went there and, at first, I thought that it would be like a child’s play, but little did I know that this “child’s play” would make a lot of difference in my life. 

How important was the project in your life, and how did it contribute to your life success?

The Community Taekwondo Project helped me a lot in my disciplinary issues. I guess this is the most important trait I have acquired in the project. The students’ discipline has always been one of Master Jadir’s top concerns. One of the things I remember is that, as soon as I started practicing, Master Jadir would gather the students together after the class ended, talking to us and asking how we were performing at school. He was always concerned about our school performance. He wanted to make sure that we were doing well, saying that the all-round athlete is the one that is dedicated to keeping good grades at school.

The interesting part is that, not only did he ask us about these things, but he also kept contact with our parents to know exactly what was going on with us, if we were really improving on our behavior at home. This was very important to me. It’s not that I didn’t learn manners at home. My mother always gave me good advice and raised me on her own. But I take the principles I learned from Master Jadir with me still today, and the project helped me absorb them into my life. These included overcoming adversities, participating in competitions, training to win. Athletes experience a lot of that, and they can bring the experience gained on the mats to their daily lives. That’s proof that we can always overcome challenges. 

Nowadays, I am thankful to God for all that I have lived, because I’ve learned a lot with Taekwondo. A great deal of the things I learned was through my Master’s teachings. I have been privileged to be a part of this project since a very young age. I was nine years old, about to complete 10, and I can say it made a huge difference in my life.

10-years-old Luis Felipe

How did Master Jadir influence your life?

Master Jadir had a great participation in my life. I think it’s very hard to talk about my experiences so briefly, but if I talked about my story without mentioning Master Jadir, it would be incomplete. I can say that the person I am today, who I’ve become – praise God, I am graduated, I have my job – all of that was possible by the work Master Jadir did with me in the project, and still does today. 

Usually a martial arts teacher, the coach, has a goal of training a young athlete for some time, so that they could be a champion and have a lot of victories in the future, but maybe the higher goal, that the master always puts first, is the formation of the human being, the person as part of society. 

I am thankful to God for Master Jadir’s life. I was a very fussy kid, with a lot of discipline issues. He could have ignored me, as a lot of people did in my past. He could have looked down on me, or even left me aside, as we see happening to kids nowadays, but he did the complete opposite. He insisted and invested in me, always showing me that he didn’t want me to be just an excellent athlete, but a human being too, a man of good character, a person that holds principles and doesn’t give them up.

What would be your message to students? 

The message that I give to the new students of the project is: commit yourselves and give your best, not only on the mats but at home, with your parents, and at school. Master Jadir always said to me, and I keep that with me still today, that when you put on the Taekwondo uniform, when you tie your belt and start training, you become a role model to the people you live with, to your acquaintances and mostly to people at school. It is important that you keep that behavior and give your best. 

We live through such difficult times, where there is a big inversion of values. You will find a lot of people, like I did, offering you things and moments that are bad for you, but don’t give up on your main purpose: to be a champion in sport and in life. 

And what would be your message to parents?

Encourage your children! My mother gave her time and participated in these activities with me, which was very important in my life. When I decided to practice, she went above and beyond and took me to be enrolled in AJTKD’s project. She always worked a lot and couldn’t be present at all times, but she never stopped encouraging me. She would go and talk to Master Jadir, reporting about my behavior, my improvement in my daily life, especially after I started practicing. 

So parents have to be aware about their role at this moment. You have to report your children’s improvement. I am sure that AJTKD has it as a slogan: to form champions not only in sports, but in life, too.

Luis Felipe as a teacher in the Community Taekwondo Project (2017)