Ky-Tu Dang, a native of Vietnam, settled in Denmark since he was a child and represented this country in all competitions. As a Poomsae athlete, he became European Champion in: 1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009; World Champion in 2007 and Silver Medal holder in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
During the last Poomsae Championships held in Bali, Indonesia, we took the opportunity to talk with him. Here´s our conversation:
I started when I was just six years old in Vietnam, the reality is that martial arts are for Asia what football is for South America. So when kids start to play with a ball, we start doing martial arts.
What can you tell us about your career, when did you start wanting to win titles in Taekwondo?
The truth is that when I started doing Taekwondo in Vietnam I didn´t think I was going to compete, register in championships or that sort of things. I learned Taekwondo because I thought it was funny, because I wanted to learn the discipline, the techniques and everything related to the sport.
When I arrived in Denmark, they told me that there were competitions; it was then, in 1975, when I became a competitor in local events, European tournaments, and open championships. My first world championship was in 1977 in Chicago; that was the first international experience for me.
You had a successful career as an athlete. Why did you retire?
I am not retired yet. Poomsae is in my blood. I think it is important for Taekwondo and for the athletes themselves, to have excellent competitions, good organization, reliable systems, and all that this entails. Due to my experience in the athlete´s side I think I must take advantage of that knowledge and work for the benefit of Taekwondo and Poomsae in particular. I can share my expertise sharing ideas so that Poomsae consolidates.
That is what we are looking for; when an athlete competes in an international event, he/she must be satisfied with the result he/she got, trusting a good organization, a good system and all the issues I´ve already mentioned.
When are we going to see you competing again?
I hope to compete again next year in Mexico, that’s my plan.
I’m not thinking about quitting, even if they tell me I have to compete tomorrow would do it, I keep training, and I am in a high level (smiles)
What do you think about the development of the recent Poomsae World Championship?
I have observed a great evolution in this championship. It is amazing. Just to mention something, three or four years ago, when people saw a kick with great control, and flexibility, they were amazed by seeing that kind of performances. But today, it is difficult that an athlete performs a bad kick. Everyone is executing excellent performances.
Three or four years ago, people thought that if you did a perfect kick it was just to show off. I remember that during the European Championships in 92, I did it, and people told me: “Aaaaaahhhh, You did that , just to show off. And I told them: “Hey, this is a competition! What else can you do but to show the best of you, to give the best you can. You don´t show your defects, don´t you think?” That´s has changed incredibly now.
Now the big question, do you think the Poomsae will be in the Olympics some day?
I hope so! We are making our efforts to reach that goal. As you know things have improved, but certainly there is still much to optimize. However, we can justify this by saying that our history in world championships is too young, just eight years. But during these years, there has been great development; techniques have been improved; athletes have a better control and knowledge about the basic movements. We still need to improve certain things to make this more exciting to the public. So when Poomsae becomes more entertaining and attractive, it can achieve the Olympic status.
What do you think Poomsae is missing now?
So far Poomsae is still too simple, it is not challenging enough. It doesn´t demand the maximum effort from competitors, and when this happens, the viewers do not feel that emotion to the fullest. It isn´t entertaining enough now.
Maybe the Freestyle can lead us to the Olympic status because it is much more entertaining for people; they are amazed by seeing the athletes´ spectacular performances and physically demanding their bodies. I think this is the path to become Olympic.
What do you consider it necessary to amend or include in the Poomsae Rules to contribute to its development?
We are all a team: competitors, coaches, referees, organizing committee; we all form a team. So when an athlete improves his skills, the team around him must improve, too. The system must also be improved, and especially, the referees must improve their skills and knowledge, they cannot fall behind. They have to be there, everyone has to work hard as a team. The reality is that the referee division has been a little behind, so we encourage referees to work harder in order to be updated with all the evolution in the whole system. The organizing committees are best prepared and they work hard so that their event is much better organized and managed than the previous edition. . That is why we must convey this attitude and mentality to the referees. They just cannot say: “Well, I was invited. I will learn when I get there” No, that shouldn´t be their attitude. They have to prepare and train like everyone else. Athletes prepare and train to compete, just as them; the referees must train, study and prepare to be satisfied with their work when sitting on a chair refereeing.
Everyone must have the confidence that the person sitting in the chair will conduct his work fairly and diligently. The selection of the referees should be even more meticulous and discriminating. After 8 years, we have more experienced referees. The Poomsae World Championships is the highest that you can get at this moment so only the best referees in the world must be selected to be there.
What are the plans of the Poomsae committee to improve the discipline in future editions?
One of the proposals I presented in 2010 is that the athlete, in a parallel way while he is doing the Poomsae, could see the scoring of the judges. I think it is a very transparent way of carrying out the Poomsae competition. I heard that the WTF will try to implement this system shortly.
Last year I presented a video to the WTF committee showing the combination of the athlete´s performance and the judge´s scoring simultaneously. It looks great.
Another proposal I presented is to have a video replay system, as we do in combats, where coaches can have a card to appeal certain actions, but we must find a way to fit it into the Poomsae to avoid losing too much time as well as the rhythm of the competition. We have to be intelligent and find a solution in order to avoid destroying the atmosphere of the competition.
Thanks Master Ky-Tu Dang for your time and for your hard work for the benefit of Poomsae.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to inform what we are doing and what we can do, as well as to express my point of view about this. I think it is important that everyone knows what we are doing and the kind of work we do. It is because of the athletes: they are the reason of our work. They all deserve credit for the work they do every day and it is because of them that we are here.
Would you like to make an additional comment?
Yes. I really hope that you, masTaekwondo.com, continue to inform all the Taekwondo community as you have done so far. And hopefully, soon Poomsae will be in the Olympics.
Alex Korram, Exclusive masTaekwondo.com