Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – It is been a while since Taekwondo, the South Korean marshal art, became a phenomenon in Addis. Even in small obscure corners, there are posters that advertise classes of Taekwondo. For Addisu Hurgessa, a young Master Instructor in his thirties, nothing gives more pleasure than seeing the local community embrace the sport.

The five-Dan (black belt) holder Addisu started Taekwondo at the age of 10 and says that it is not only a sport but rather a way of life. Apart from teaching the sport at his sport club (Addis Taekwondo), he is also the coach of the Ethiopian national Taekwondo team. The Taekwondo master spoke to Tibebeselassie Tigabu of The Reporter about the evolution of the sport in Ethiopia and his experience. Excerpts:

What are you doing currently?

It has been 26 years since I got immersed in the sport. Just last year, I graduated from AAU with a Master’s degree from the sport science department. The International Olympic Committee also gave me a six-month coaching training scholarship. For the first leg of the training, which took some two months, I stayed in America and I just got back to my country. The program also has a second phase in Lausanne, Switzerland.  It is one of the biggest coaching courses and they chose national coaches from 32 countries. Luckily I was one of them. In between, am also required to practice what I have learned (give trainings) back home and I should report how it went. I am in a final stage of giving trainings. Now only two weeks are left before heading to the Lausanne.

Now you are busy with this project. But how are you managing your other responsibilities?

I cannot say that I have faced problems until now. I have been a coach for the national team for the past eight years and I also have responsibilities in the federation. So far, Taekwondo was not taught at the university level in Ethiopia and I will be teaching the courses. Apart from AAU, Jimma, Awassa, and Bahirdar universities are also planning to give taekwondo courses. So I am also playing an advising role in there. It has been 12 years since I started teaching at International Community School (ICS). I have also taught for 11 years at Sanford and 10 at Bingham schools.

How do you see the evolution of Taekwondo in Ethiopia?

It is more than my expectation. I do not think that there is any sport that gained popularity at such a speed in Ethiopia. There are training centers in each kebele, children start this sport at a very young age. Soccer might be more popular accounting for the number of fans but we were able to go to the grassroots level. It is good that Taekwondo is going to be taught at the University level so that the academic community will also be involved in the sport. Read More