A former coach of the Vietnamese national taekwondo team is running a special club for people from different backgrounds to practice the martial art despite their busy schedule.
The taekwondo class of coach Nguyen Dang Khanh opens every Monday and Thursday night at the Phu Tho Stadium in District 11, Ho Chi Minh City.
Established in 2016 with only a few members who sought ways to maintain their health, the club now has several dozen members from all walks of life, including business people and healthcare professionals.
Coach Khanh said the goal of his special club is to help those who share the same passion for practicing martial arts train after work to stay healthy.
As the club members include both old and young people, and amateur and experienced practitioners, Khanh has to make sure his lesson plans are flexible to suit the need of everyone.
Khanh said as he is already experienced in professional training, he finds it quite easy to devise any lesson plan.
“The thing is it must be applicable to everybody,” he said.
“But it turns out my lessons work great for everyone, especially the elders who see much improvements in their body after working out.”
One of the club members is surgeon Tran Chi Tien, director of the surgery department of the Ho Chi Minh City Oncology Hospital, who has to rush from his workplace in Binh Thanh District to District 11 after his shift to be in time for the taekwondo sessions.
Tien started practicing taekwondo at the age of 13, but he had to wait for a good 41 years to be able to continue his passion for the martial art.
Now that he is past his prime, and his kicks are all but feeble, the surgeon still tries his hardest to finish the lessons.
“I experience better physical and mental well-being,” the doctor said. “As a surgeon, mental wellness is crucial when it comes to any operation.”
|Surgeon Tran Chi Tien (L) practices taekwondo at the club in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre|
Advice from health specialists
The club also has a special member - doctor Nguyen Thuy Song Ha, a former member of Vietnam’s national taekwondo team who is now deputy head of the sports therapy department at the Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine.
Ha has many national championship titles under her belt, and once competed at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.
With a very tight schedule, the doctor only attends this club on Monday.
Looking at her throwing ferocious kicks at the sandbag, it is hard to believe that she has given up taekwondo since 1992.
“I never thought of coming back to practicing taekwondo,” Ha said.
“By chance I was reunited with coach Khanh and I was convinced to take up the sport again.”
With a sport therapist on the training ground, other practitioners receive great benefits.
Upon hearing that one sustained a back injury after a tennis game, doctor Ha gave him some back-stretching exercises after their taekwondo class.
Many members also spend their time sharing about work and life with their fellow practitioners.
Signs of improvement
Nguyen Ngoc Hung, 53, a branch head of the Saigon Jewelry Company (SJC), is the oldest member of the club.
Even though he took up taekwondo at the age of seven, he soon gave up practicing to make time for his study.
In 2016, he realized the importance of good health in old age.
Though slower than other members, he never skips any session with the club.
Hung is the one who drew surgeon Tien and other employees of SJC to the club.
Ho Ngoc Tuan, 48, who runs a seafood business in District 4, confided that he has joined the club for two years.
Tuan admitted that he used to drink a lot and only agreed to join the club at the invitation of coach Khanh.
“At first, I could not keep pace with the exercises as I was not used to this kind of training,” he said.
“However, the other older members give me the motivation to keep up. And it really pays off and I have continued to work out ever since.”