How Coach Adnane Kanane is Fighting The Stigma Around Taekwondo in the Maldives

When you think of the Martial Arts or hear the word Taekwondo, what do you think of it? Personally, for me, these words are synonymous with words such as agility, strength and discipline, that must be needed to study this sport. The same stands true for other forms of the fighting arts, like karate, judo and so on.

To a selected few, these are art forms in themselves, built on the principles of honour and mastered with strong determination. But ironically, when many of these fighting styles are combined and practiced in the same ring, many people seem to have a strong aversion to it. It is the stigma that surrounds the fighting arts, one that is outdated and unfair.

Many still view the fighting arts as violence for the sake of violence, with brutality as its sole objective. But the truth is far from it, it’s not more than just fighting. And this is exactly what the head coach at Maldives Taekwondo, Coach Adnane Kanane is working on dismantling entirely.

Though he may be a Head Coach today, but he too had a humble beginning just like any other as a player in Taekwondo at the early age of four. Born to Morrocco, Coach Kanane revealed how parents were always eager to enrol their children to martial arts clubs in the country, usually at such young ages.

Much for the pleasure of Coach Kanane, he grew up in Taekwondo, and to this day he has remained around it.

Coach Kanane has an impressive list of achievements to his name too; from third place in the junior class of the Moroccan Regional Championship in his first participation, to first place in the qualifiers for the Moroccan Championship in 2018, Coach Kanane has come a long way.

Among other tournaments, he placed Second in the Third World Taekwondo President Cup Africa Region, First in the Agadir Morocco 2019 tournament, Second at the International Open in Oujda, as well as First in the esteemed World Taekwondo Grand Prix.

While Taekwondo is a growing sport in the Maldives, the future of it shines bright in the Maldives. With Taekwondo being an Olympic sport, Maldives now stands the chance to have their athletes compete in the sport in the future. In fact, Coach Kanane is hopeful that some of his students would go on to become champions in the world.

Similar to many others, a number of Maldivian parents also associate Taekwondo to ‘just fighting’ and often brush it off as something impractical. But as Coach Kanane believes, Taekwondo can be essential to the mental strength of young children, by training them to boost self-reliance and confidence to stand up for themselves. Especially in a culture where bullying, harassment and other forms of violence run rampant.

As the Coach describes, they are coming to learn how to defend themselves, to learn self-confidence and how to become a champion.

The first thing that is taught in their classes is discipline, as Coach Kanane describes that without discipline a student cannot progress into the next level or improve. To respect their seniors, their parents and everyone else, after which the basics are taught. Young children also thrive while learning Taekwondo, as Coach Kanane further detailed that the children at Maldives Taekwondo has a high self-confidence level, and are highly motivated in life.

This is also seen in the never giving up attitude of their students. In fact, it has turned out to become one of Coach Kanane’s most memorable moments in the Maldives; he described how one of his students injured themselves and cried on end but never gave up. He has since gone on to win gold medal Fighting Tournament and Kyorugi Tournament, and aspires to win a Gold Medal for the Maldives in the Island Games very soon.

For those interested, Coach Kanane expressed his hope to see people persevere despite the challenges in Taekwondo. As he says, it may not be a sport that makes you happy everyday, but Taekwondo is a sport that teaches you to accept your losses and appreciate your wins. The most important of it all, is to never give up in the face of your losses or injuries.

Coach Kanane is hopeful that anyone interested would come and try it out, and continue the sport if they like and one day reach new heights.

Building a team of champions in the Maldives, he expressed his hopes to see Maldivians winning World Championships, aiming as far as the Olympic Gold Medal in the future.