Chickens in the Dojo

A couple of summers ago, when construction of our resort was just beginning, Casey and I were asked to teach some classes at the local Tae Kwon Do dojo in La Virgen. The studio had been started up by Don Santos, who had grown up in the area, gone on to become a successful businessman in Managua, and then decided to come back every weekend and teach the local kids Tae Kwon Do.
We didn’t know what to expect, and we couldn’t have predicted our experiences.
The dojo was in the middle of an indigenous community where most homes had no running water or toilets. Those that had electricity used it sparingly. Families had many children. Animals were everywhere. We would frequently see pigs, chickens, cows, horses, goats, even ducks and turkeys. It is a subsistence existence, day to day survival, greatly influenced by the weather.
We discovered Don Santos had over 110 children enrolled in his studio. All had uniforms and belts. There were bags, sparring gear, promotional medals and uniform patches.
He even took some of the upper belts to tournaments in Managua.
We spent the summer teaching the upper belts on Saturday and Sunday mornings, focusing on kickboxing techniques, to compliment Don Santos’ emphasis on Olympic style. The kids were great–receptive, eager to learn new things, and many were very talented and strong. I remember one morning trying to explain how to throw a hook punch when a rooster came running across the dojo floor crowing and flapping his wings at me. I don’t know if he didn’t like my hook punch or thought he could demonstrate better, but he sure made a lot of noise. Everyone was laughing and flapping their arms.
Fast forward to today. We recently discovered that Gloria, one of the housekeepers for our resort, has two daughters who are black belts from Don Santos’ studio. The younger one is 16, and yesterday went to Managua to compete for the National Championship. And guess what?? Korayma Gissela Morales Guido is the Nicaraguan National Champion of Tae Kwon Do at 44 kg. She goes to El Salvador in August for the Central American Championship and then on to Brazil in October for the South American Championship.
Congratulations to Korayma!!
All of us in the La Virgen/ Las Salinas neighborhoods are so proud of you.

As a martial artist and instructor, I see a bigger lesson here.
It is not where you train.
Or what things you have to train with.
It is how you train.
And how big your heart is…

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