Taekwondo experts have come out to review self-styled private investigator Jane Mugo’s Taekwondo skills after her interview with BBC went viral on Monday.
In the video-taped interview uploaded to BBC Africa’s YouTube page on January 25, Ms Mugo suggested she was gifted in Taekwondo and even claimed that she holds a Taekwondo certificate.
While illustrating how she can defend her client, Ms Mugo, in a mock demo, grabbed a man playing the enemy’s role, and squeezed him on the nose to drive him out of breath so that she could subdue him.
“It [tightly squeezing an enemy’s nose] is a very good method of protecting yourself in case you don’t have a gun, a pepper spray or you cannot fight Taekwondo like Jane Mugo,” she told BBC journalist Sharon Machira.
Ms Machira, in a follow up question, asked Ms Mugo whether she had Taekwondo skills. Ms Mugo’s response: “I can do Taekwondo, but [I’ve not worn] my uniform now.”
Ms Machira, however, insisted that Ms Mugo should showcase some of her Taekwondo skills.
Ms Mugo, immediately, stepped back, swung her hands in the air, and activated her shushing as if to indicate she was ready for war.
She, thereafter, lifted her left leg to throw a kick, but the kick couldn’t go high. In a quick reaction, after realising she was about to fall, she thudded back her left foot to the ground and quickly threw her right leg into the air, this time around, surging forward as she made noises only characteristic of Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jet Li movies.
While attempting to grab her supposed enemy (Ms Machira, who was enjoying Ms Mugo’s theatrics from a distance), her gravity betrayed her, causing Ms Mugo to fall to the ground with a thud. It is that fall that gave Ms Mugo away, with experts suggesting that chances are near-absolute that the controversial private investigator has never set foot in a Taekwondo class.
George Wasonga, the Kenya Taekwondo Federation Secretary-General, defined Ms Mugo’s Taekwondo demo as sarakasi [circus].
“Whatever Jane is doing, is not Taekwondo. [It is clear that] she has never been to any Taekwondo class. Hizo ni sarakasi na vitimbi za kutafuta sifa tu (Jane’s demo can only serve for circus and theatrics meant for clout generation),” Mr Wasonga told K24 Digital on Tuesday, January 26.
“What Jane is demonstrating there, is not any martial arts. She is trying to mimic what she watched in movies, it is comic at its best,” said Mr Wasonga.
Another martial arts expert in Nairobi, Alvin, who also offers professional Kenpo and Karate training, was a bit polite in his review of Ms Mugo’s Taekwondo skills.
“As an instructor, I wouldn’t want to discredit her, but from my expertise I would assume she is just starting up in Taekwondo and has not advanced in Taekwondo skills or any other martial arts,” Alvin told K24 Digital on Tuesday.
“She has some long way to go before she can master the concepts of martial arts.
“Remember, people mostly refer to most martial arts as Taekwondo, which is not the case. And, she could be practicing a different type of martial art, and labeling it as Taekwondo. We have lots of martial arts, for instance Kenpo, Shotokan, among others.
“Regardless of the type of martial arts, there are very important factors that come to play, and weight is the biggest. Weight determines your level of flexibility, which is vital in fighting; be it self-defense or tournaments.
“From the clips circulating on social media, Jane actually loses balance and falls down while demonstrating her skills. That would be a grave undoing should you be in a real-life attack. I think she shouldn’t be judged so much; she is on the right track to getting her skills right, but she is not of the rank of black belt or any senior rank within the martial arts, going by her demonstrations,” said Alvin.
Why Jane Mugo ‘got it wrong‘
Asked to explain the actions that suggested Ms Mugo’s Taekwondo skills are amateurish, if not non-existent, Alvin said: “Taekwondo is known for very fast and rapid high kicks. She didn’t demonstrate that. Another indicator of her inadequate skills is that while trying to spin, she lost balance and fell down.
“Third, her punches were not accurate or well executed; these types of mistakes happen with junior students in martial arts.
“And, finally, while trying to demonstrate [her Taekwondo skills], I couldn’t see where she was aiming at as target; she had no target. Pro Taekwondo fighters must aim at a particular target.”
Taekwondo, Tae Kwon Do or Taekwon-Do is a Korean martial art, characterised by punching and kicking techniques, with emphasis on head-height kicks, jumping spinning kicks, and fast kicking techniques. The literal translation for tae kwon do is “kicking,” “punching,” and “the art or way of.”
Taekwondo always requires wearing a uniform, known as a dobok. It is a combative sport and was developed during the 1940s and 1950s by Korean martial artists with experience in martial arts such as karate, Chinese martial arts, and indigenous Korean martial arts traditions such as Taekkyon, Subak, and Gwonbeop.
The oldest governing body for Taekwondo is the Korea Taekwondo Association (KTA), formed in 1959 through a collaborative effort by representatives from the nine original kwans, or martial arts schools, in Korea.
The main international organisational bodies for Taekwondo today are the International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF), founded by Choi Hong Hi in 1966, and the partnership of the Kukkiwon and World Taekwondo (WT, formerly World Taekwondo Federation or WTF), founded in 1972 and 1973 respectively by the Korea Taekwondo Association.
The governing body for Taekwondo in the Olympics and Paralympics is World Taekwondo.
Taekwondo is systematic, educational and has a scientific approach. It is taught through curriculum. Because of the structure Taekwondo has to offer it is now taught as a major in over 20 universities and colleges worldwide.