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I have just returned from a trip that saw me travel to Ireland, Nigeria and then Egypt. I previously wrote about the success of the Masters Seminar in Ireland and the sense of family that seems to always underscore an International event. Clearly, Master Choi is very fortunate to have an organization that believes in him and all that his father taught him. Likewise, the organization is fortunate to have a solid base of Masters and Senior instructors that are adamant about preserving the art as developed by General Choi.

Having left Master Chois side in Ireland, Mr. and Mrs. Dalton, several of their students, my daughter and I left for Lagos, Nigeria. Never having travelled to Africa, we all relied on Mr. and Mrs. Dalton to set the stage on what to expect. No amount of preparation could have prepared us for this trip. Joined by Master Nicholls and several ITF members from England, the stage was set for what was to be a life changing experience for all those that participated.

We were greeted at the airport by Mr. Ashiru and several of his students. In tow, were also two Lasallian Brothers that had been corresponding with my daughter. The Brothers are missionaries teaching in a small town about twelve hours by car from Lagos. The school in Naka is a sister school to the school my daughter attends in Canada. My daughter came to Africa with the group to assist in the translation from English to French for our members from Algeria and hopefully learn a little Taekwon-Do along with the rest of us. As part of her remuneration, she convinced me to accompany her to Naka to deliver a donation from the sister school in Canada. I must say that the experience was incredible. I would like to thank Austin for safely transporting us along very dangerous roads to the school and back to Lagos.

The seminar began on Friday. Unfortunately, because of our excursion, I was not able to attend the first day. I did however attend the second day. The members that were present were eager to learn and the seminar proceeded with Master Nicholls and Mr. Dalton. Everyone worked hard to review the Umpire Rules and practice what they were taught. In addition, given the number of participants from England and Ireland, they were also given lessons in the fundamental movements and patterns. The training hall was at the University of Lagos. I think the average temperature during the seminar was 34 degrees Celsius but the humidity made it feel like 40!

The seminar hosted by Mr. Ashiru had students from Nigeria, Ghana, Gambia, Senegal, and Algeria. I was impressed at the number in attendance from other countries, not because of numbers, but simply because of the effort necessary to get to Lagos. Many of you wont know this, but for someone to travel within Africa, it is easier to fly to Europe and catch a flight back to the African destination. In fact, when I was leaving for Egypt, the members from Algeria were catching a plane to Milan, Italy for a connecting flight back to Algeria. You go figure! I congratulate all those in attendance for this incredible effort.

I would also like to congratulate Mr. Ashiru for his hard work and dedication. He is struggling to build on General Chois dream to have ITF Taekwon-Do in Nigeria. I am also very proud to have participated in the first organizational meeting of the African countries. I met many people that hold great promise for the development of Taekwon-Do in Africa and I look forward to hearing more about their development. I am sure our visit will be remembered, not only by those in attendance but also by the millions of people that read the national papers and listen to the national radio stations. I lost count at the number of interviews I gave in the three days I was there.

I would also like to thank Master Choi for allowing me to join Mr. and Mrs. Dalton in this historic step of bringing ITF to Africa. On the Fortieth Anniversary of the founding of the International Taekwon-Do Federation, I am proud to be a member and serve the son of the Founder. I am also proud to see that Master Choi is following in his fathers footsteps and continuing his legacy. General Choi spoke to me of the importance of Taekwon-Do being practised everywhere in the world and Master Choi is doing all that he has been entrusted to do. It is an honour to work with him and be part of these historic events. I am also very thankful to Mr. and Mrs. Dalton, Master Ogbourne and all their students that generously donated do-boks and equipment to our brothers and sisters in Africa. The organization is strong and will continue to grow because of the tremendous support from people like them!

I understand that there will be at least four more trips to Africa this year by senior instructors with a proposal for an exchange program next year. I would also imagine there will be a World Championship there some day as well!

My final days in Africa were spent in Cairo, Egypt where I visited a WTF do-jang and met with some senior instructors.

It is interesting to note that the sense of family continues to pervade regardless of the country visited.

Michael Tibollo

Written by: Mr Michael Tibollo - 19th April 2006

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