Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Jimmy R. Jagtiani is Father of Taekwondo in India


In March 1974,  the final and most brutal phase of the Vietnam (Saigon, city) war had begun. The fall of Saigon appeared imminent. We had no alternative left but to pack up and return to our motherland, India. We finally settled at Lucknow (UP) and aspired to practice Taekwondo, but here, people were unaware of Taekwondo. There was no training center in the city so I practiced my own techniques and maintained myself.

One Sunday evening, I was returning home after watching a movie at Aminabad, Lucknow. I was waiting for the bus at the bus stop. One bus came but the driver did not stop the bus, I had to chase the same running bus. Incidentally there were many people running after the same bus. I entered first and the rest were behind me. The bus was now over crowded. One of the guy stepped on my foot. Since there was no space, I did not say anything, but as the bus speeded further many passengers moved out. Now there was enough space, but the same person who was standing on my foot did not move his foot at all. I told him in my broken Hindi language “AAP, MERA PAIR KA UPPER KHARA HAIN, MEHARBANI KAR KE HATAOO” (You are standing on my foot, kindly move your leg). As I was born and brought up in Vietnam did not know Hindi language properly so they started making fun of my language and started teasing me more. One of them said “NAHI HATAYENGA KYA KAR LOGAE” (I am not going to remove it now tell me what you are going to do). 
I was very upset but kept calm as I knew Taekwondo very well, I thought of teaching them a lesson. I just pressed his inner-muscular thigh and lifted his leg to push him, but unfortunately the bus, at the same time took a U-turn and we both fell down on the street. The rest of three of them were very annoyed and stopped the bus to get down. Four of them and I were standing in the middle of the Aminabad crossing Lucknow. They were using abusive language to me and all I could say was “SAME TO YOU”. The public and the passengers were trying to convince them to avoid the quarrel, but they were determined to beat me. One of them took out the knuckle-duster and came forward and punched on my left eye. Thanks God! I could defend myself otherwise I would have lost my left eye. The knuckle duster was so sharp that it cut the skin below the eye and it started bleeding heavily. Even then it was not good enough for them. Another guy tried to attack me on my head, now with no any other alternative; I had to defend myself with my hand covering the left eye. I started using kicking techniques with all sorts of kicks (since in  those days the bell-bottom pants was very much in vogue and I was wearing them, so I could lift my leg upto 180 degrees or any direction) on them i.e. Front kick, Round Kick, Back Kick, Straight Front Kick and Elbow blow. With all these techniques applied on them, I turned and saw all four of them were flat on the street.

The whole crowd who was watching as fighting was amazed to see our stunt and started clapping wondering how it could be done within few seconds. The police turned up and took all of us to the Aminabad’s police station, Lucknow. Luckily some of the passengers had reached there. They supported me and told the inspector that I was innocent and those boys were trying to harass and beat me with the knuckle-duster and in return I had only used Taekwondo techniques for self defense. I was released and four of them remained in the custody.

After two days I received a message from the same inspector. He told me that he had narrated my story to his friend Mr. K.D. Singh Babu, the famous renowned personalities in Hockey, who was also the director of the U.P. Khel Bhawan, Lucknow and the director wanted to meet me. I met him on the third day. Mr. Babu wanted to confirm and asked me, “I heard you knocked four people down in a few seconds, is it true? How could you do it” He thought I must be a giant or some kind of Muscle-man, but here I was so tiny in front of him only  5“7” inches with hardly weighing 60 kilograms. I answered him, yes I have learned martial art, called “Taekwondo.”

He could not understand and asked “What?” I said “Tae-kwon-do”. He still could not understand and asked me again, “what did you say?” “In short”, I told him “Judo-Karate” and he understood. “Still, I cannot believe you can handle four people at the same time” he said. I understood that he wanted to test me. I asked him what you wanted me to do exactly. So he told me to come in the evening when he taught hockey to his students. I agreed. me and my brother Mike reached the stadium at 5=00 p.m. while he was on the ground making the boys and girls to practice Hockey. When he saw us, he told his students to sit down on the ground and introduced me to them. He then requested me to show some of my techniques. I showed kicking, jumping and punching one by one. Suddenly he asked me whether I could beat one of his boys with a hockey stick. I told him that I didn’t mind two persons at a time. Two of them got up with hockey sticks and attacked me.

With no other alternative, I knock them down with my special kicks. Not only Mr. Babu was surprised but his students including the trainers were also surprised with my techniques. Later, I told Mr. K.D. Singh Babu that, I wanted to start teaching Taekwondo in the stadium. He then advised me to teach the police first. He then introduced me to the 35th Battalion P.A.C., (police line)  Mahanagar, Lucknow. And Railway Protection Forces,  Alambagh, Lucknow. I started training them in the art of Taekwondo in 1975. 
                     Master Jimmy R. Jagtiani given lecture of Taekwondo to the Police in 1975

During this period I tried to learn more techniques of Taekwondo. Thereafter I visited Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Bangalore, Delhi and in other cities, but was very surprised to know that no one knew what Taekwondo was. Then I decided to organize a Taekwondo demonstration with the help of my brothers Mike, Ram, Lachman at the Gymkhana Club, Lucknow in 1975 and performed the art.  Mr. K. D. Singh Babu proposed the show with the purpose to introduce the art of Taekwondo to the citizens and seek their approval. The show was a big success. Thousand watched and admired it in excitement as we displayed high power Taekwondo techniques, which vividly interpreted Taekwondo and differentiated it from Karate,  Kung-fu and Judo etc.   
                           Photo starting from the left Mr. Ram, Grandmaster Jimmy, Master
   Mike, and Mr. Lachman at the Gymkhana Club, Lucknow in 1975

    Grandmaster Jimmy demonstrate by breaking the Marble tiles at Gymkhana Club in 1975

This achievement encouraged me to establish another demonstration on 2nd August 1976 with the help of the P.A.C. Jawans and the R.P.F’s trainees, whom I had trained since 1975. The U.P. Taekwondo Training School was established thereafter. The Taekwondo Federation of India was also formed on 2nd August 1976.  On 2nd August 1977, the first anniversary of Taekwondo Federation of India was organized with a demonstration of highly techniques at the K.D. Singh Babu indoor stadium. The students trained by me specially Mr. Inder Kumar Singh and Mr. Dinesh Kumar Singh both are Senior most student along with others entered the Arena and enchanted the viewers by their superb performance, which was inaugurated by none other than the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea His Excellency Mr. Bum Suk Lee., and Dr. Banarsi Das Gupta was the Chief Guest. 

                                Master Jimmy R. Jagtiani received Ambassador Medal from His Excellency 
                                                    Ambassador of the Republic of Korea  Mr. Bum Suk Lee in 1977

His Excellency Mr. Bum Suk Lee, was so fascinated with our performance and awarded Ambassador’s Medal to me and further  he promised maximum support in promotion of Taekwondo in India and also to send me to Korea for further advance training under Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Federation, (W.T.F.).
In Korea, I received rigorous training under Grand Master Chang Seong Dong from July 1978 to Sept. 1979, who transformed me into a Taekwondo exponent; on Feb. 1979 I qualified 3rd Dan Black from Kukkiwon, Korea. I own immensely tribute to my Master Chang Seong Dong, who renders me the most competent guidance and co-operation all the way.    
                Group Photo in the Taekwondo Gym with Grand Master Chang 
after receiving 

                           3rd Dan Black Belt Certificate from Kukkiwon on 18th Feb. 1979

         Grandmaster Jimmy R. Jagtiani in action in the Taekwondo Gym in Korea in 1979

Grandmaster Jimmy R. Jagtiani performed front kick 180 
                             degree in Kukkiwon, Korea  in 1979

Grandmaster Jimmy 5th Number from the left with Kukkiwon’s officials, 
      Technical officials and Vice-President of Kukkiwon  in 1979.  
The Executive Director and the Technical Advisors of the Taekwondo Hall of Fame, USA conferred  upon Grandmaster Jimmy R. Jagtiani, 8th Dan as “ Father of Taekwondo in India ” in the Grand ceremony held in Marriot Hotel, New Jersey, USA  on 10th April 2009

Grandmaster Jimmy’s great achievements did not go unnoticed and was appointed as International Advisory Board for the Kukkiwon, the World Taekwondo Headquarter (Kukkiwon), Korea in 2008.

 Grandmaster Jimmy R. Jagtiani posted with Citation and Medal received
from the Hall of Fame, USA. conferred upon him as Father of Taekwondo in