By George H. Ashiru, 7th Degree
To see photos and read more on TKD in Nigeria, pick up our latest issue!
In 1975 a young French speaking man from Cote ‘D Ivoire, who had come to Nigeria on the occasion of the All Africa Games remained to establish training in Taekwondo with emphasis on the Korean School of Jidokwan. His name, Aikpa Aime. He was a lone trainer at the new national stadium in Lagos, until a chance meeting with some youthful martial artists led to the inception of classes in the old basket ball courts in the national stadium. His methods and mannerism soon drew a large following and thus began in Lagos, Nigeria, Taekwondo as we find it today. Upon leaving Nigeria in 1977, he entrusted the development of the school to 3 pioneer instructors, who today are universally recognized as the pioneer Grandmasters of Nigerian Taekwondo; Messrs Dominic Bassey, Kofi Anani and Emmanuel Ikpeme.
According to the records of the NTF75 Jidokwan Nigeria (HYPERLINK "http://blackbeltcollege.blogspot.com/"http://blackbeltcollege.blogspot.com/) the following are some records of pioneering instructors that eventually created the Nigeria Taekwondo Black Belt College (NTBBC)
FIRST GENERATION INSTRUCTORS: GRADED 19 77
Dominic Bassey ● Kofi Anani ● Emmanuel Ikpeme
SUB-SET OF THE FIRST GENERATION INSTRUCTORS: Graded Between 1978 - 1980
Leo Kunle Labinjo, Adedapo Adetola , Azubike Uzoaru, Boniface Nwachukwu, Charles N. Owah, Pius Ilukhor ,
SECOND GENERATION INSTRUCTORS: Graded between 1981-1983
James Ademuyiwa & Michael Okon, George Ashiru, Jonathan Nnaji, George O. Akinola, Epraim and George Okon, Taiwo Nosiru. Yusuf Yahaya (RIP), F. Eyo Asuquo & Osita Egwim.
The pioneer Instructors focused their training in areas of specialization. GM Bassey was associated with the military development upon enlistment in the Nigerian Navy in 1976. GM Kofi concentrated in civilian development at the central school in the National Stadium, and GM Ikpeme was credited with the infiltration of the academic ranks. The school, through serious commitment and discipline continued in unity till the early 1980s, when external factors which I will not glorify in this speech, led to factionalisation. However, the urgency of Taekwondo development made all the gladiators sheath their swords to form an entity in 1986. Korean Taekwondo Instructor, GM Moo Cheon Kim, who was then seconded to the Nigerian Armed Forces, was interested in helping the formalization of the Nigerian Taekwondo community in Nigeria with the world HQ in Korea. But he required unity.
In early 1986, at the Lawn Tennis courts of the National Stadium, the pioneer master instructors of Nigerian Taekwondo along with several senior instructors met to dissolve the two erstwhile associations, forming thereafter, the NTBBC. The NTBBC then began weekend trainings at the same venue for many years under Master Kim. In this process technical unity was developed, several tournaments were held at the Sports Hall of the National Stadium and the NTBBC gradually grew nationally until all many Dan holders were graded successfully by the resident or visiting Chief Instructors, who included Korean Taekwondo masters Jung Rae Park, Kim Moo Cheon and Byung Ho Lee, all of whom are today Grandmaster Instructors based in South Korea. The Nigeria Taekwondo Association, the official name of the proposed National Governing Body for Taekwondo quickly evolved in the same 1986 from the activities of the NTBBC and this was forwarded to the Federal Government and by 1987 was inaugurated as Taekwondo Association of Nigeria and formally registered as a member national federation with the WTF. The Black Belt College continued as a training centre for instructors, affiliated with the new national federation. Membership of the College continues to be open, with all schools and styles accepted into the brotherhood of unity which the NTBBC embraces since its formation. Many of the members are certified by the Kukkiwon, Jidokwan, Chung Do Kwan, Moo Duk Kwan/Tang Soo Do, ITF, etc,
The main training centre of the NTBBC is the National Stadium in Lagos, where senior instructors weekly provide practical instruction in Taekwondo to emerging instructors and coaches. Over the years, notable international champions cut their teeth from the preparatory instructions received from the College over the years. Champions such as 1992 Olympic Silver Medalist, Emmanuel Oghenejobo, Athens and Beijing Olympic veterans like Martins Obiorah and Chika Chukwumerije, and also African Champions such as Princess Dudu and Margaret Achibi, among scores of other notable champions and instructors. The College has developed over the past 23 years under able leadership. The five Presidents that have guided the College over the years are Grandmaster Kofi Anani, Senator (Master) Uche Chukwmerije, Grandmaster Charles Owah, Master George Akinola and presently, Master George Ashiru.
The Core Values of the NTBBC are: Excellence, Professionalism, Integrity, Honour and Responsibility. The College is primarily a training centre and registry for all Taekwondo black belt holders in Nigeria. The Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) is the National Governing Body (NGB) for WTF style Taekwondo in Nigeria, and the NTBBC cooperates with the NTF in expanding Olympic opportunities for all Nigerian Taekwondo athletes. The College, however, welcomes and registers all Taekwondo black belt holders regardless of their affiliations.
In promoting these values, the NTBBC relies on both practical and academic instructions. Having scores of University graduate coaches as well as sports coaching specialist in its technical crew, the College is able to provide up to date information on current training trends in Taekwondo in the world, and inspire instructors and coaches to strive for excellence in techniques as well as proper artistic interpretation of their skills through instructions and training in Taekwondo.
Recently, the NTBBC cooperated with the Korean Cultural Centre in Abuja, Nigeria to facilitate a special training programme organized by the Beijing 2008 Olympic Bronze Medalist in the +80kg class, Mr Chika Chukwumerije. These and other special and regular instructor courses are geared towards opening up Nigerian Taekwondo athletes to broader standards of instruction as well as training which will impact on the overall development of Taekwondo in Nigeria and help fulfill the aspirations of the Nigerian people.
The Author: Master George Ashiru, 7th Degree is a Grandmaster member of the Jidokwan Society, President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Black Belt College, Hall of Fame Honouree and Team Manager of the Nigeria Taekwondo Olympic Team for Beijing 2008. He holds the distinction of being Africa’s first ITF Master Instructor and a Master of Tang Soo Do by the WTSDA.