Arriving at the location of the school, I see Filippos with a broom cleaning the stairs. He greets me and we walk in. It is a simple place, where the “tatami” is taking over. To pass over it, Filippos asks of me to remove my shoes. It is with joy that I am stepping on the tatami again, after decades. Memories distract my attention from the interview that I am about to conduct. Tournaments, trainings, the Katas, friendly battles, the enthusiasm of victory, the calmness after meditations, the joy on my friends’ faces, the face of the Sensei (teacher) All I can think is “Os”, but I do not say that.
Filippos explains to me how he decided to become a teacher (“Sensei”) at ITF Tae Kwon Do. In his words I discern enthusiasm, but also humility. He describes that he is enamoured with teaching since he was a teenager, when he initially began teaching. As not all students at school are getting top grades, so too at Tae Kwon Do not everybody will win a gold medal. But the effort to do so entails limitless joy.
The martial art approach that Filippos chose to teach is based on simple, instinctive moves which a simple citizen can use for self-defence. That is, he is instructing the people who come to him how to avoid danger. Perhaps in some instances, running away is indeed the best self-defence. However, that might not be possible. In order not to be in danger, you need a strong body initially and then, to know how to use it. All of these along with a strong philosophical basis is what ITF Tae Kwon Do is teaching.
ITF Tae Kwon Do
The lessons for this approach of martial arts are included in an Encyclopaedia of fifteen volumes. With each new technique, master Choi Hong Hi has connected a small Philosophy lesson, because the utmost purpose is not to create dangerous fighters but peaceful warriors. Tae Kwon Do moulds sturdy characters. When you feel that you are strong, you do not have to prove something to another person.
Teaching Tae Kwon Do
What initially drew his attention for teaching martial arts were the changes that he observed in the children who were taking part in the Summer School where he taught for the first time as a teenager. He then realised, that he possesses a power which brings joy to others. This power is the teachers’ transmissibility. He also noticed that with the joy his students feel, he is also joyful. So he made the choice of pursuing professionally this career path.
Nevertheless, teaching martial arts has some difficulties, no matter how charismatic or inspired you are as a teacher! It is not enough to be making nice moves. It is not enough to be making powerful kicks. It is not enough to pass all the exams. Most necessary is a location where you can teach! To welcome your students, you need to set up the school before you even find your students. To find your students, there is so much to read about on your own first. There is a whole ocean of knowledge regarding how to set up a business, how to advertise your talent, all of what people need to know to get started and these are scattered on the internet, in books, discussions between you and people you know. It is your task to learn whatever you need. Nobody will come and tell you along the way.
I asked Filippos to talk about the great joys that his chosen profession is giving him. In what he says, I can feel the spirit of Altruism. He feels happiness when somebody else is taking a step forward in his life with his guidance. “Joyous moments I have almost daily, whenever a student is doing a new kick and he is achieving it. You see his smile, that is what gives me joy every day! If you are asking about happiness it is in everyday, in how you see the world, the life, everything. This happiness I get it every day, because my passion is my work. As I am enjoying what I do, I am happy!”
Filippos Tae Kwon Do School is not a gym, it is a school! There is a teacher, students, books, lessons and exams. There are moments in which punishment is necessary to discipline the child. The relationship I am going for is not entirely professional, because there needs to be a friendly relationship developing with the children as well, so that learning can be promoted. “The only child that falls behind, is that which has not done something and it is not because it cannot. Because when it cannot we see it and we help it. The child might be good but although the child has talent, the child slacks off or is lazy. This is not rewarded. We are a school, all children move on, all children make progress and if I suspect that a child is not trying enough, that it is not progressing or something like that, I naturally talk to the parents as well as the child itself.”
Filippos is also giving seminars about bullying at schools. This phenomenon, bullying, is in his theory emerging from the child itself. He explains to me that the self-confidence of the bully is not high. “The bully does not feel strong. He just wants to show that he is strong. But when you feel strong, the bully will not intimidate you. The bully hits only on those who feel weak.” In his seminars, he gives some steps about our response to such situations. That is, what we must do and what we must avoid.
Advice to parents
It is the parents who have the power to build up the basic self-love of the child. So, Filippos is speaking to them when he says: “Love your children and show it to them every day!” Naturally, he recognizes that each parent loves their child. Yet, he emphasizes the need of a physical expression of this love in the midst of routine. No matter how tired we feel, let us have a warm embrace upon meeting them, a kiss goodbye. Let us be the good example for our children. By practically showing our love in a physical manner, the child learns that it is loved, that it is important, unique and welcome.
“A simple “I love you son”, being called by their own name, all these things: They show that you love the child and so the child will love its’ own self and then there will be no danger by anybody in life.”
With these words Filippos – the Tae Kwon Do instructor - finalised the interview, in the heart of Nicosia. Those of you who want to know more, to meet the teacher and his art, to get into classes, can look up online “Filippos Taekwon-do ITF Nicosia”. For more about ITF Tae Kwon Do – as an Olympic sport – you can learn from the Cyprus Federation of Taekwon-Do (ITF) at 99443172.