Taekwondo is a well-known type of martial art that originated from South Korea. Traditionally, martial art has been a male-dominated industry over the past years. However, the number of women practicing martial arts recently keeps rising. In Nigeria, women have increasingly practiced South Korean martial arts.
Among Africa’s rising stars are Thursdaline Peter and Humble Li Orji, who are taekwondo fighters from Nigeria.
Female Nigeria Taekwondo Fighter: Humble Li Orji
Humble Li Orji is a Nigerian taekwondo fighter who hopes to make it to the Olympics. She won many national and international medals. Li Orji enjoys fighting men because it lets her know which skills she needs to improve. Li Orji first learned Taekwondo in 2011. She had visited the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri in Imo State, Nigeria.
Orji was looking for a sporting activity that she would like to take part in. She liked most of the sports she came across, but she was more fascinated by the Taekwondo. At 18, Orji won her first medal as a black belter. As a fighter, Li Orji won many medals. By the age of 25, Orji had won 30 medals, three of which were gold. Orji’s dream is to compete in future Olympic games.
Humility and Tolerance.
“Taekwondo does not only teach people to fight but also teaches them respect, obedience, humility, tolerance, and determination,” Li Orji says.
As a woman, Taekwondo has taught Humble Li Orji how to carry herself. In Taekwondo, she learned self-defense against rape and robbery attacks. Taekwondo also helps with body weight and fitness, which is essential for both men’s and women’s health. Issues such as excess body weight and fats can easily be resolved by taking up taekwondo lessons.
Kicking Gender Inequality Where It Hurts: Thursdaline Peter
Peter Thursdaline is Nigeria’s youngest taekwondo referee and self-defense trainer who has won many awards. She has won medals representing Nigeria in competitions in Africa and Asia. Thursdaline started Taekwondo to help fight the abuse of women. She urges women out there not to allow any man to make them feel inferior by telling them they are weak. Thursdaline encourages women by telling them they are strong, and every woman has the strength to do what she desires. She trains a lot of women on self-defense and how to handle abuse in case of any.
Once, she even took on a thief in the streets. He was tall and masculine, but she beat him. With the help of her mate, she grabbed and hit him. When she threw a few blows and slaps, the crowd joined in and slapped the thief too. They then left him to go as he cried and asked for forgiveness.
“Boys come and challenge me to fight and spar. We train together; I kick them, they kick me back. They don’t pity me back.”
Tackling Gender Discrimination in Taekwondo.
More women continue to take up Taekwondo in the world, Nigeria included. In Northern Nigeria, even though culture may discourage women from participating in certain acts, the number of women taking part in Taekwondo is still rising.
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you are week. That girls and boys are different. That is not true because girls and boys get equal rights,” says Thursdaline.
In Taekwondo, there is no gender discrimination. Men also help women to get better at it. Both fighters encourage women to not only do this as an exercise but as a career too if they are passionate about it.