Martial Arts has gained significant momentum in the local community, emerging not only as a sport but also as a profound embodiment of discipline and self-defense. Beyond physical training, it instils valuable lessons in its practitioners, emphasising respect and the cultivation of courage.
Coach Adnane Kanane, hailing from Morocco, stands as the most seasoned Taekwondo practitioner in the Maldives, imparting his expertise in Korean martial art. As the esteemed head coach at Sharks Martial Arts Academy, Kanane has set the pace for Taekwondo's growth and development in the nation.
Although Taekwondo has only recently been officially established, Coach Kanane is delighted with the rapid progress made thus far. With great optimism, he is set on achieving a gold medal in the upcoming Indian Ocean Island Games.
Initially arriving in the Maldives nearly two years ago to provide his expertise in referee and coach training for Martial Arts, Kinane's dedication led him to extend his stay. He took the opportunity to introduce Taekwondo to enthusiastic participants and diligently train them to reach a professional level and to prepare them to compete in international games.
"I am thrilled for this opportunity here in the Maldives. Taekwondo, being a new sport in this region, and to be a coach in it, is truly exciting,” Kanane said, who is a former champion of the World Taekwondo Federation Grand Prix.
As a certified Taekwondo coach, holding a license from the Morocco Martial Arts Federation, Kanane reminisces about his initial foray into coaching as an assistant to his own mentor. This invaluable experience laid the foundation for his coaching journey.
"When I began my coaching career in 2017, I had an epiphany while assisting the coach. It dawned on me that my coaching abilities were not limited to one country; I could extend my expertise and coach in other nations as well,” said Kanane.
During the initial introduction of the sport, Kinane faced the challenge of dispelling parents' concerns that Taekwondo would promote aggression and fighting among their children. He dedicated himself to changing this perception, emphasising that combat was not the essence of Taekwondo, and worked diligently to educate parents about the true values and principles underlying the martial art.
However, Kanane's efforts paid off, and he quickly gained the trust and confidence of parents in the sport. Today, it is not uncommon to see parents training alongside their children, further highlighting the growing popularity and acceptance of Taekwondo within the community.
"I am proud to say that my efforts have paid off, and Taekwondo is now recognised as a professional sport. We have athletes achieving high ranks in both kickboxing and Taekwondo," said Kanane, reflecting on the remarkable progress and success.
While the progress has been gradual, the sport has steadily advanced in the nation. Sharks Academy has played a pivotal role in this development, conducting classes in Addu City and maintaining ongoing classes in schools throughout Malé. This deliberate and steady approach has contributed to the slow but meaningful growth of Taekwondo within the community.
To exemplify that Taekwondo is not merely a sport but a transformative discipline for personal growth, Kanane shared an inspiring story of one of his students.
"I had a student who received an international black belt in Taekwondo and aspired to join the military. The military conducted fitness tests to assess the individual's strength and endurance. Thanks to his training in Taekwondo, which encompasses both physical and mental development, he effortlessly passed these tests. Taekwondo instils self-defense skills, strength, and resilience, empowering individuals to handle victories and losses with grace," Kanane said.
Observing the remarkable progress of the sport, Kanane firmly believes that there are Taekwondo athletes who possess the potential to compete at an international level. Their dedication, skill, and commitment make them prime candidates for representing their country on the global stage.
When questioned about his goals for Taekwondo in the Maldives, Kanane responded, 'With the presence of professional athletes, my focus is on nurturing their potential and helping them excel. My aim is to train them to a level where they can achieve the highest ranking and emerge as champions in the sport.”
"Among our achievements, we have five athletes who have received the international black belt. My objective is to send them to the Indian Ocean Island Games (IOIG) and provide them with rigorous training to prepare for participation in the World Championship. It is my ambition to see them compete at the highest level and showcase their skills on the global stage."
In a significant milestone, the Maldives became a member of both the Asian Federation and the International Federation of Taekwondo last year. This momentous occasion marked the country's entry as the 212th nation to join these prestigious federations, further solidifying its presence and participation in the global Taekwondo community.