By Kamalpreet Kaur Badasha
Yum Chee (Integrity) is the tenet of Tae Kwon Do that comes to mind in interviewing Jesper Roesen. His modest nature concealing the fact that he has won several major titles.
Jesper won gold at the 2005 (-72kg) European Championships in Riga, Latvia. He will be adding this accolade to his gold medals from: the European Championships 1998 (-67 kg) and in 1996 (-64 kg). As well as the silver medals won at the World Championships in 2001 (-72kg) and in 1999 (-67kg) and at the World Cup in 1998 (-64 kg).
Tae Kwon Do Career
Jesper began training at 11 years old in 1986. For the first three years he trained with a club south of Copenhagen. In 1990 he began training with Master Kytu’s club and it would be with this club, that he would go on to medal in numerous championships.
Having trained for nineteen years, what motivates Jesper to continue training is simply that "it is fun". He goes on to elaborate that, "It has become an integrated part of my life, so it is difficult not to train."
Jesper’s choice of Tae Kwon Do role model is not confined to one individual, as he says: "Through time there have been a lot of fighters but no one person. Some players have certain advantage or skill, for example maybe their personality. Different people have different aspects which are admirable."
Jesper favours kyorugi (sparring) to poomsae (patterns). When asked the reason for this preference, he cites that it is the: "The competition, the excitement and the way you train." Competitions provide a unique area to test both your physical ability and mental stamina, he adds that it is "The way you compete", which is the "is the main reason" in his preference for kyorugi.
What would his advice be to someone who was seeking to improve their kyorugi (sparring) technique? Jesper said: "There should above all be a goal and to go for it. To train, and have goal, not only have goals as results, ‘I want to win silver medal or gold medal’. But to have goals in training, so that you can develop your skills and thereby win. And be serious too, concentrate your life around the training, so it [your life] fits the training."
Jesper’s favourite kicks when sparring are Naeyro chagi (chop kick) and spinning kick.
The question of flexibility always remains a pertinent one for any martial artist. Jesper maintains flexibility through incorporating stretching into his training programme. He reveals that: "At the beginning of each lesson, we start with a good warming up program and then stretching. Twice a week there is physical training, within this we have stretching."
Tae Kwon Do & The Olympics
When questioned about the future of Tae Kwon Do, Jesper feels, "It will develop more as a sport. Since it has become an Olympic discipline it has increased in popularity, spreading all over the world and in all countries".
Having mentioned the effect of Kyorugi being introduced to the Olympics. Jesper was asked, should Poomsae become an Olympic discipline? The initial reply was "No", but then after consideration, he response is, "That it is difficult to say at the moment".
When asked, whether the rule changes in Tae Kwon Do Kyorugi have been effective. Jesper’s opinion is: "It has done a little bit for making sparring more exciting. It is still a tactical game. There is a lot of stepping and a lot of waiting. However there is a need for more changes of rules, to make it more spectacular."
Which rules would make Tae Kwon Do Kyorugi more spectacular? Jesper’s answer is: "There should be a rule about how long you can wait before kicking, only 5 seconds intervals at the maximum before a kick must be executed. This would make it more dynamic."
What was his perspective on self defence being lost in Tae Kwon Do? Jesper’s view is that the loss has to do with modern society. The need for self defence is not part of daily survival. He said: "The greatest concern for most is about having a decent living, their job’s and family. The development of Tae Kwon Do is more sport based because it is connected to the way people live.
"The aspect for survival and the need to stay alive is the root of martial art. Martial arts fighting was derived from real fighting. The self defence aspect has been lost due to society changing. The need for training the body as a deadly weapon does not exist in modern society."
In terms of Tae Kown Do development, Jesper is very supportive of seminars and training camps. As Jesper said: "They are very good and very useful for everybody. Everybody has something different and new to give to students, and these new ideas can be bought home to clubs by participants."
On a personal note...
When asked if he had any regrets, the short and sweet answer is "No regrets".
His biggest achievement was: "To compete in Olympics in 2004. To be at the top, everything in your life should be in order. This is what makes it easier to get good results.
"When I went to the Olympic, I went without having a complete balance in my life. However I still competed, which for me was even more of an achievement than if everything had been in place."
Jesper’s considers his main dislike to be, hypocrisy. While honesty is what he likes. To relax Jesper spends time with his friends and family, just relaxing together. One of his favourite films is "Life is Beautiful".