Taekwondo helps teach confidence

NANAIMO – Parks and rec offers classes for children as well as adults.

Master Moyasser (Moy) Mahmoud

Blame Jackie Chan for Master Moy Mahmoud’s love of the martial arts.

Mahmoud, a sixth-degree black belt in taekwondo and certified international master instructor, is teaching the Korean martial art through the City of Nanaimo’s parks and recreation department. His love of the art dates back to his childhood in Egypt.

“I was six years old and the new [VHS] players came out in the late 1970s and my dad rented a video with Jackie Chan,” said Mahmoud. “I watched that movie and I liked it. I started to learn all the movements there. It’s not accurate, but just trying to jump like him, do this stuff, then I started to break stuff at home.”

Mahmoud said he practised on everything from furniture to pillows and even his little brother. Mahmoud’s father, a high school teacher, knew students who trained and who in turn referred him to a club.

While Mahmoud started in kung fu, he eventually moved on to taekwondo and it has become his passion, something he hopes to pass on to students with the rec department’s offerings at Bowen Park and Oliver Woods community centres starting in April.

There are numerous courses for children between three and 12 years old, and also classes for people 12 years and up. Mahmoud even has a student who is 71 years old.

For the three- and four-year olds, the focus is on discipline, such as requiring them to sit still and listen to the instructor, and for older people, the focus is on technique, breathing systems and goal setting. There are other benefits as well.

“Physical benefits will be increasing flexibility, conditioning, coordination, a lot of agility exercise in taekwondo,” Mahmoud said. “Mentally, it’s like focusing for students. There’s a lot of research that proves that students that need to focus in their education, they need to do some kind of activity, like this.”

Mahmoud also said it leads to self confidence, which he says is the most common element of all martial arts.

“When we test the students and they earn a belt, that’s building up their confidence. That’s a good achievement for them. Also, when we ask the high belts, like black belt or red belt, to break a board, that’s building up confidence as well,” said Mahmoud.

For more information, please see the Activity Guide under the parks and recreation tab at www.nanaimo.ca.