After a successful WT G-2 ranked event, Kee Ha, president of Taekwondo Canada, talked in exclusive with MASTKD.com about his plans to improve Taekwondo in Canada, how is structured his MNA, and his vision of Taekwondo evolution at this moment.
What motivated you to become Taekwondo Canada President?
I first became president of Taekwondo Canada for the 2004-2008 term. Before being elected president, I had held several positions on the Board.
At that time, I had a vision and mission statement focused on developing High Performance Excellence for Taekwondo Canada that included having Canadian Taekwondo Athletes standing on Olympic podiums. I spearheaded the creation of a Strategic Plan for the pathway to take Canadians to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The Plan inspired and motivated all athletes, coaches, and support staff to unite as one team for the Olympic journey.
Canada’s Taekwondo Athletes’ performance was recognized and rewarded in Pan Am Championships and World Championships, and finally there came a Silver Medal at 2008 Beijing Olympics. My mission was accomplished, and it was time to refocus on my family and my personal goals, so I decided to step away from intense involvement with Taekwondo Canada.
Fourteen years later, members from all regions of the Canadian Taekwondo community contacted me asking me to come back to use my skills and experience to help restructure Taekwondo Canada into a strong organization focused on excellence in all its aspects.
My children are now adults and many of my personal goals have been achieved. I was ready and motivated to help build an outstanding organization using systems leading to excellence for the next generation. I was elected again as Taekwondo Canada President in September 2022.
I believe a great organization demonstrates inspiration with confidence and trust to every Taekwondo community based on the principles of transparency, accountability, sustainability, and communication. This is my contribution and legacy for future generations.
How is Taekwondo Canada structured both administratively and in the sporting aspect?
A very important point is that the Board and staff are one team, with all contributing to the success of Taekwondo Canada. Good governance and operational management are essential components for excellence in this organization.
Taekwondo Canada has a policy board’s structure. The board is responsible for governance and financial planning. The board hires operating management personnel to carry out operations, including High Performance responsibilities, within the written policy guidelines and long-term Strategic Plan.
Based on the principles within the Strategic Plan, both the board and the operational management team have their own policy papers clarifying their responsibilities and accountabilities.
What were the first challenges you had to face?
Coming back, my first challenge was to find out what was happening within the present Taekwondo Canada communities and how to build trust and recognition among our Taekwondo members. The world was still dealing with the most challenging parts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to serve the members immediate needs was a priority.
We worked to re-engage competitors, coaches, and referees using technology and other strategies to stage on-line poomsae competitions to lift spirits.
I try to lead by example, as a positive motivator. I understand that doing the right little things well can make a big difference. The right little things, done well, can create major positive outcomes for individuals, organizations, and our Taekwondo communities. Reaching out and communicating with the many people involved with Taekwondo Canada to find out what they need from our organization is an on-going goal.
What are your next objectives?
My next focus is on the development and establishment of an education and certification system for potential instructors to become Dojang operators who are financially and professionally successful, regardless of location.
Such a broadly available grassroots-based education and certification system would bring essential value and benefits to every Taekwondo community. With well-trained and professional instructors teaching Taekwondo in communities across the country, the number of people who are training and gaining the many benefits of Taekwondo. Is likely to increase.
How do you see the Canadian team in the two multi-sport events that lie ahead, the Pan American Games and the Olympic Games?
I am sure all our athletes will perform well at these and other major events because
our athletes are well prepared. They receive personalized game planning, strategic and technical skills training, along with excellent physical and mental training.
I expect our athletes will enjoy their winning moments standing on the Olympic and many other podiums.
What do you think about the presence of Taekwondo at a global level?
Taekwondo is now a fully recognized global martial arts and sport. In addition to the physical development benefits, taekwondo contributes to developing positive character traits and mental focus that can help enhance and bring harmony to people’s lives.
At the community level, taekwondo instructors have a duty and responsibility to promote the positive benefits that Taekwondo offers.
At the High-Performance Sport level, I see the WT striving to take every opportunity to improve the evolution of the game so spectators can enjoy and be entertained at every match. WT is implementing up-dated competition rules and using innovations in technology, such as electronic protectors, to promote and to improve the fair field of play.
You recently organized a successful Canada Open which had the category of G2, what is the balance that the event leaves you?
Yes, it was a very successful event. It was a wonderful celebration with all the athletes, coaches, and other personnel who are involved in the long journey to the Olympics.
Taekwondo Canada’s focus was to provide a fair field of play. By selecting excellent international referees from five continental regions. And by arranging the competition venue to be in the hotel which was located on the waterfront in one of best places in Canada, the top world class athletes were given conditions to display their personal best without any extra stress factors.
Of course, there Is always room for improvement. Applications for these events must be submitted for approval through PATU. It would be helpful if the PATU leadership facilitated the scheduling of events to allow each event to have enough time to properly plan and promote its event. It would also be helpful if these events were spaced to allow athletes to participate in all of them if they so wish.
For example, during this past cycle the US Open was confirmed one month ahead of the Canada Open, though the US Open was actually held a week later, and the Pan Am Series was held on the same day as the Canada Open.
The late confirmation greatly reduced the amount of time Taekwondo Canada had to promote its event and the same day schedules of the Pan Am Series and the Canada Open greatly reduced the opportunities for high performance athletes, coaches, and officials to gain valuable experience.
That said, I would like to express my deep appreciation to everyone whose commitment and creativity contributed to making the Canada Open such a premier event. We received many positive reactions and look forward to welcoming everyone back for the next Canada Open.
What makes that the event maintains the category of G2 in spite of the fact that the majority of events return to be G1?
Hosting a well-organized G2 event, such as the Canada Open, provides excellent opportunities for world-class experiences for all elite athletes who need to gain the necessary qualifications to advance to the Olympic Games. The athletes, coaches, and officials come to such events, not only to get the high-ranking points, but also to move closer to fulfilling their dreams of representing their nation with honor.
Do you plan to hold the Canada Open in 2024, Olympic year?
Taekwondo Canada would like to provide the fair field of game play for athletes to display and sharpen their performances as part of their life enriching experiences.
Taekwondo Canada looks forward to welcoming many elite international athletes and their support teams to the 2024 Canada Open.