Sabum-nim Marc, 4th Dan, is the chief instructor at Libre Taekwon-Do in Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), South Africa.
He’s also the Black Belt Association (BBA) director who oversees the overall development of black belts within the ITFSA.
“My role is to hopefully motivate and inspire practitioners, specifically the black belts, to develop and further their taekwon-do journey,” Sbm-nim Marc says. “I enjoy the position I’ve been entrusted with, but I enjoy the spirit, trust, energy and enthusiasm of the team members of the committee even more.”
Sbm-nim Marc started his ITF Taekwon-Do journey in 2007. “It’s now my 13th year of actively practising, ” he says. “I began doing martial arts at an early age. As a young boy, I loved kicking and jumping. This was evident even during the early days of karate competitions. I love taekwon-do for its explosive, dynamic movements and wide selection of kicking techniques.”
Starting out in tang soo do, a Korean martial art based on karate, he earned an orange belt. Then he moved onto Kyokushin karate (from Japan) and attained a blue belt.
“Being Chinese, there’s always been an influence from the martial arts, and because of the discipline it entails, my parents took me to try out,” says Sbm-nim Marc, who was born in the Seychelles. “During my late teens, I wasn’t very active in martial arts but always wanted to get back into it.”
In 2007 Sbm-nim Marc was introduced to taekwon-do by university friends who’d tried it out. ” I thought that if there was ever a time to resume my martial arts training it would be then.” He made the conscious decision as a young adult to pursue his dream, which has now become a lifelong journey.
I joined the ITFSA in 2016 and it’s been a welcoming and warm experience. I really enjoy the spirit the ITFSA embodies, the support given to us as a club and promoting the art of ITF Taekwon-Do,” he says.
“I enjoy the technical aspects and Korean history and philosophy. Also from a technical point of view, the way the dobok (uniform) is worn, and the general reasoning behind everything we do. The most outstanding aspect I find is the structure of how we learn the art and more importantly the moral compass attached to what we do, which transcends into my daily life.”
Sbm-nim Marc always aspired to have his own school, so relishes the challenges of being the chief instructor of a club. It’s his way to give back to the community, share his love for the art and educate others about taekwon-do.
“I enjoy teaching students about the way that martial arts can complement one’s life in many ways and showing them the way to develop into better students of the art. This goes hand in hand with the development of a stronger character, both mentally and physically.”
Along with his co-chief instructor, Bosabum-nim Ignatius Ajuenor (3rd Dan), Sbm-nim Marc founded a dojang (school) on 1 September 2016. Libre Taekwon-Do is based in Humewood, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), South Africa, close to the beach.
“Our first class consisted of six to eight students. We began with a seniors class every Tuesday and Thursday. After receiving inquiries for a few years, we introduced kids’ classes in 2019. These are taught by Bsbm-nim Mark Viljoen (2nd Dan) every Monday and Friday. We also have black-belt classes every Saturday morning, which usually last two to three hours.”
“Libre Taekwon-Do students are a great group of people, an extension of my friends and family,” he says. “They’re the lifeline of the dojang and without them, there’s no club! The students continually push the boundaries for us as instructors and students of the art. They improve and learn at such a fast rate that it inspires us to always try to be one step ahead of their continual development.
“This keeps us active and motivated to stay sharp and always in motion. To keep us all engaged as one unit, constant motivation is necessary to ensure growth and development among our members. We’re blessed to have three instructors, but we’re always critiquing what we do and looking to improve to ensure we all give our best as practitioners of the art.”
“ITF Taekwon-Do has given me a purpose in life and has impacted me in a positive way. There have been challenges along the way, but I always try to pursue a positive outlook and find balance in life.”
“Bsbm-nim Ignatius and I happen to share the same astrological sign in the zodiac commonly denoted as Ω. Libras are known for being charming, beautiful and well balanced. It’s the well-balanced theme that’s the inspiration behind our logo and the way we approach martial arts and teaching it. We named the club libre as it means “free” in French, which we wish to emulate in the spirit of our teachings.”
“I always encourage anyone who wishes to learn taekwon-do as best I can with the emphasis on self-defence. We offer prospective students two free classes to try it out and to get a better feel of the classes.
“There are some who prefer to watch the class, which we allow new students to do… whatever they feel most comfortable with. I usually let the students experience the journey, as talking can only do so much. Only time will tell the story but we always try to motivate and encourage along the way. Mostly, we share our experiences to help prepare them to a certain extent, especially if it’s something they’ll be doing for the first time.”
Sbm-nim Marc’s message to prospective students? “Why wait? Give it a try! You won’t truly know until you consciously try. I always ask, ‘What have you got to lose?’ “
And his message to current students? “Stay true to what you do. Things won’t always be easy, but overcoming challenges is rewarding, no matter how monumental or minor they might seem. Giving it your best gives you the best chance of success. We’re not perfect but we can strive to be as close as possible.”
“My goal is to impact people’s lives in any way and hopefully in a positive light.”