Over the years, Taekwondo has become a popular sport practiced by many athletes across the world and today we celebrate 25 years of Taekwondo in Casa de Campo – taught by Arquimedes de Jesus, Taekwondo pioneer in our very own community and currently also the Director of the Dominican Republic Taekwondo Federation!
That’s right! Since 1986, Arquimedes de Jesus has assumed the commitment of passing on his knowledge of Taekwondo to multiple generations who have enjoyed this martial art – in numerous clinics held at both the Club de la Costa in Central Romana and the Fitness Center in Casa de Campo. Curious to know more about Arquimedes’ career as a popular instructor and his role in the developing Taekwondo in La Romana, here we share with you our interview with Arquimedes:
@cdcliving: When and how did you become interested in Taekwondo?
Arquímedes: In 1984 when a friend asked me to join him to go and see one of these classes. I’ve always liked the oriental philosophy and at that time I used to practice Hatha yoga, I took a Taekwondo lesson and the instructor was quite impressed by my flexibility and finally convinced me to stay, but the group didn’t quite get my attention. In 1985 I meet a professor called Hae, who had created a group of young people after opening chiropractic clinics in the Santa Rosa avenue in La Romana town. I really liked it and I kept going under his instructions.
@cdcliving: What motivated you to become a Taekwondo instructor?
Arquímedes: By the end of 1986, the school´s instructor had to go to Korea for quite a long time and in 1987 I lost my job at the Free Zone so I didn’t have many things to do except for going to the Taekwondo clinics in the mornings and afternoons. Some of my instructor’s students didn’t come back to train, but one day, some parents arrived with their kids asking for the Taekwondo lessons. I was motivated on an afternoon and after a week I was teaching a group of about 8 kids. When my instructor returned from Korea, he found 20 kids. Surprised as he was he congratulated me for the initiative and that same year we asked for recognition from the Dominican Federation of Taekwondo.
@cdcliving: When and why did you start giving lessons in Casa de Campo and the Club de la Costa? How was it like back then?
Arquímedes: In Casa de Campo, I don’t know if this can be called coincidence, but on one afternoon, while I was opening the school, I found a contact card that said “Touram Rateb, Managing Director, Hotel Casa de Campo”, with a note that indicated that I should call his office. I did. The secretary said Mr. Rateb wanted to speak to me. On the day of the interview he was in a meeting and I was sent to wait in his office. When he finally arrived he told me that he wanted me to instruct his kids Fatima and Karim because he heard I was teaching Taekwondo. I said I would and asked him if he could help me find a job. He said that I could teach Casa de Campo executives in the mornings and their kids in the afternoons – that was when the Taekwondo school was born in Casa de Campo, Tuesday the 14th of September 1987.
Taekwondo Classes at the Club de la Costa in Central Romana, 1988
In front of the Taekwondo School in town lived a Chilean family – and their daughter Ana used to do Taekwondo, as well as classic ballet at Elizabeth Zeller’s Academy (who we remember as our loving Tia Eli). Ana’s mother went to the school and told me that Mr. Gustavo Zeller (who was also a distinguished member of Casa de Campo and Central Romana) was interested in meeting since he wanted his children, Magda, Ivonne and Julio to take Taekwondo lessons because he had once trained Judo during his time in Mexico and he wanted them to practice a martial art. We got together and on October the 5th of 1987, Taekwondo classes at the Club de la Costa officially started with a group of kids both boys and girls who participated in many events.
@cdcliving: How was Taekwondo seen at the time (in the 80’s and 90’s) and what differences do you observe today?
Arquímedes: The 80’s and 90’s were years of adaptation, adoption and growth for the WTF system and just like the athlete, Taekwondo mentor and Dominican pioneer, Adalberto Escoto once said, “Everything in Taekwondo has been invented, what varies is the method of training, depending on its own variables and rules”.
@cdcliving: Could you highlight any important Dominican, young Taekwondo athletes?
Arquímedes: We have varios young athletes in the Dominican Republic who have been outstanding, like Danny Vizcaino, first world champion at a juvenile championship celebrated in Spain, Ivan Tejada, first Dominican to win the bronze medal in the 7th world championship celebrated in Korea in 1987. Gabriel Mercedes who is the most consolidated and successful athlete in the Dominican Republic of all time for his great accomplishments, like 2 bronze medals in the world championships, 2 gold medals in the Panamerican games, 2 gold medals in the Olympics for Central America and the Caribbean, silver metal in the Olympic games and a gold in the Taekwondo World League Championship.
@cdcliving: Anything you would like to tell the Casa de Campo community?
Arquímedes: The Taekwondo School in Casa de Campo is celebrating its 25th anniversary in October and we formally invite all parents of the community to send your kids from ages 3 and above to participate in the Taekwondo clinics available at the Casa de Campo Gym with the collaboration of Korean Masters who will also be instructing the kids.
Congratulations Arquimedes and Casa de Campo!
Open: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4pm-5pm
Where: Gym, Casa de Campo Hotel.