Senior Master Ivan Tzatchev

Country : Norway



Senior Master Ivan Tzatchev GTF (VIII dan),
Grounder /Fonder of ATN- Taekwondo Norway in 1996
Member of ITF- 1985 – 1990
Member of GTF 1990 – 2002
Member of ATI- 2002 -2015
Member of GTF- 2015 Affiliate ATN- Norway with GTF
Member of GTF- EC- Exclusive Masters committee 2016
GTF- Under Secretary General- appointed in 2016
Leader for GTF- Disables – Assertiveness Committee 2020
Leader GTF- Media Committee- 1993- 2002 and 2016 – 2024

My philosophy is – “Taekwondo for everyone!”

Lives by Martin Luther King Jr’ lifes most pressing and important
question is: What do you do for other people?

Throughout his long life, had an urge to help others realize dreams and to connect with his inner strength – a balance between body and soul. By exercising with Ivan Tzatchev (75), he believes that you can increase well-being and achieve better health. Ma Senior Master Ivan Tzatchev (VIII Dan Taekwondo) Global Taekwondo Federation, and is the head coach and leader of ATN (Advanced Taekwondo Norway).

Born in Bulgarian who lives in the Arctic city Tromsø- Norway. He left Bulgaria on August 1, 1973, and has been actively involved in Taekwondo since 1976. He is a former musician by profession, and currently a lecturer at the University of Tromsø, Norway, where he teaches sports management and martial arts. He has a personal consulting company, conducts coaching courses. In Norway, he is a founder and the president of ATN – (Advanced Taekwondo Norway) an organization that unites five taekwondo clubs, with over 500 active trainees in them. He is an honorary resident of
the city of Tromsø, award with honorary Culture Price of the city in year 2010 In 2014, he was nominated among the ten best coaches in Norway. For his passioned contribution for sport and Taekwondo in 2018 he was award from NIF (Norwegian Sport Federation) with Golden pin “Hedersteget” the highest award in a sport in Norway.He returns to Bulgaria several times every year. Doing a seminars and contributions. He talks about his many years of Tae Kwon Do, the Korean martial arts help in working with all kind of people especially disabled.

How many years have you been practicing taekwondo and what do you
remember from the beginning?

I have been practicing Taekwon Do for about 50 years since 1978, I got fired up in a very interesting way. In Bulgaria, I graduated from the Variety Department at the Music Conservatory and went to the USA to study sound recording technology. One of my colleagues invited me to see “some sport” Tan-So-do he name it – that was he practiced. He took me to a group – I look: they are kicking high with their feet … they are flying … beautiful, cheerful. And I say to myself: Oh, this thing is for me! There was a very nice, very fun atmosphere between them – light, pleasant, like a game. And at the same time – they were very good at what they do. I questioned the coach and he explained that there would be a handicap training the next day. I asked to watch, he allowed me, I went and really – I saw that he was teaching people with various disabilities, among whom there were even people in wheelchairs. And I saw the same person who the day before was jumping, literally flying, kicking 360 degrees, now he had a completely different tone, a completely different voice, a completely different way of teaching. He was a completely different person, very kind, polite, modest. I talked to him and he said, “That’s the power of Tae Kwon Do. Tae Kwon Do is for everyone. It is not only for those who are physically strong, fit and healthy, it is also for those who are not so healthy…”. Then he explained to me about the philosophy of General Choi, who made it precisely for those who are weak so that they can defend themselves against the strong. I fell in love with his philosophy and that was from then on my motivation to develop in Tae Kwon Do and do what I have done today: Tae Kwon Do should be for everyone.

Could you introduce your Tae Kwon Do organization in Norway?

I am the founder and leader of ATN – Five taekwondo clubs became members of ATN, three of which are in my city – Tromsø. The clubs are built according to my philosophy – taekwondo for everyone. I withdrew from the ITF at the time 1990 to join GTF, The reason being that is I wanted to continue doing what was my philosophy and desire to develop Tae Kwon Do. The conflicts and politic with what I didn’t needed. Then my friends became not my friends, I can’t say enemies, but they were no longer my friends and I was left alone. So, since 1993, I started to build these clubs, and I have done them exactly on this principle: taekwondo for everyone. This is our motto. We also have another motto that reads:;We are not only building world champions, but generations of new people who will meet the challenges of the future with a healthy mind and This is part of the philosophy of the founder of Tae Kwon Do and I have always had his Encyclopedia as a guiding light in what I do. The totalnumber of trainees is about 380 people, aged from 6 to 75 years. more then 30% of the members,

What kind of people train at ATN?

People from all walks of life. We have psychologists, doctors, engineers, teachers, technicians, electricians, plumbers, drivers… I say this:;We have one language that is spoken here, and that is the language of Tae Kwon Do. In training I dont divide them into groups – only red belts or only white – for me its a division of classes. With us, everyone practices the general techniques together, then splits up according to who needs to learn what for their degree, with an instructor-assistant. Who are the youngest andoldest members of the club? From 6 to 74 years old. The oldest is 74 years
old, has been with me since 1993 and is a third dan. He is a professor of mathematics in Tromsø. This is a person who misses at most three practices a year. He has four granddaughters – all four train with me. He is an example for others – that at 74 years old you continue to train, to live. And he himself says that it is a great joy for him that his children and grandchildren accept him, to be with them. This gives him energy and

What is the male to female ratio?

50:50, but sometimes girls even prevail. Many women and girls train with us. I also have eight families, which are father, mother and two children (children must be over 10 years old to train with the adults). How are they all doing together? Great. They are probably one of the most cheerful and happy in training. Are there foreigners, emigrants among the members of the club? They train people from eight nations and the newspapers in Norway have written about it several times. I have the same attitude towards emigrants as towards everyone. Some of the emigrants speak very little or poor Norwegian; I immediately introduce them to children who are more open, I explain to them that they came from somewhere, they speaks little Norwegian but anyway I want them to talk to each others, and can learn the language faster. That’s how I feels like one of the group, that are friends, a Taekwondo family. Some are more outgoing, some are more shy, but every new person who walks through the door at our place is greeted with a “Welcome!

How can we help you?. What are the instructors like at your club? Do you train instructors yourself – what would you like them to remember from you?

Norway has a very special system regarding martial arts. To become a black belt, you must complete two courses. One training is in the specific style – Taekwon-do, karate or some other. And the second is – of the Martial Arts Federation of Norway, which includes physiology, pedagogy, methodology, etc. This is required for one to be an instructor and is required if one becomes a first dan. For second and third dan there are module 2 and module 3 respectively, which are even more specialized. I graduated in absentia from the “Norwegian NIF” and have a bachelor’s degree in sports management, organizational forms, coaching and pedagogy. Because of this qualification, Norwegian martial arts federations and Norwegian Confederation of Sports have given me their trust to teach coaching courses to all martial arts that are members of the federation.

How long does it take to become first dan, second dan with you?

Nobody is in a hurry with me. I have no one that has taken first dan in three or even four years. At the moment one degree exam has been postponed from June to December and for then I ampreparing two 15 -16-year-old girls for first dan, two girls and one boy for second dan. The girls have been training for at least 9 years. I call them my children – they grew up with me. You have success with people with disabilities.

Tell us more about that and their Tae Kwon Do activities?

I must stand by my word. Periodically I take one, at most two, because they require more attention and work. My pride is 24-year-old Robin, who has CP cerebral palsy. He came to me 12 years old and last summer, after 12 years of training, he became a first dan. From the paralysis, he came bent over, he couldn’t stretch his arm, and now – you won’t believe it. Exercise is more effective than physical therapy. With us, he wants to hit like the others, he puts in strength, desire, and this helps him stretch the tendons, muscles – all that was stiff in him. The forms in Tae Kwon Do also help a lot. First, we have coordination, where that part of the brain that is responsible for movements also works. It’s difficult with his legs, make him kick high because I can see he’s in pain, so I tell him: Let the others do what they can, and you kick at your height. You can tell by his speech that he has a disability, but otherwise the improvement is very great. My biggest success is a very smiley boy; Ahmed Nordin with Down syndrome. When he is training hard and in pain, he smiles. After 14 years dedicated training he achieve 1. Dan black belt. He was the first in Norway, I think as well in Europe with DS to achieve black belt in Taekwondo. Local and national newspapers and TV stations came to film him and we did gusts some of the most popular TV channels TV 2. He is important for me to point out that this is his achievement, not mine. I have only helped him because if it wasn’t for that persistence and desire that he shows, he wouldn’t have been able to
achieve this. He is very cute, smiling, charming, he knows very few words, mentally is probably at the level of a 5-6 year old, even though he is now 33. We all love him. We love him, he is our “ mascot “He tries really hard to do to fulfill the lessons he’ve been given. He likes to train, he is very physically fit. He listens to me like a child and follows me. It struck me that this young man learn noy by visualization but by simulation. It becomes an instinct for him. I have learn a lot being his trainer. When I start many people told me I was crazy, that there was nothing I could do with this guy, that the most he could do was yellow belt, but I insisted on trying. And we did success. Weapprove that “ The impossible can be possible “ The secret is how to do it. 19 years have gone since he startet but he not give up. Now I am preparing him for 3,Dan. I am very happy and proud that we in GTF have own division – Disables – Assertiveness, I am in charge for this division.

What is the discipline in the clubs in ATN? People in Norway are very free-thinking – is there can occure conflict between behavior in the taekwondo gym and individual rights? It is really challenging How do you solve it?

My advice to everyone is: train and follow TaeKwon Do as it is – holistically. You can not separate on physical and physical part, they must be one . Open eyes and ears, visit many clubs, instructors. Choose clubs and instructors who teach the real Taekwon-Do, not only the controversial side. Then it will Taekwondo develop even more, it will become even more popular, popular, and we will preserve the identity of Taekwon-Do , theoriginal. Tae Kwon Do for everyone – this is General Choi’s dream. General Choi never said that he would make Olympics or competitions, nor did he say – make athletes to win medals. He used to say that taekwondo was an art, a noble art. That is one of the reasons I am member of GTF- Global Taekwondo was tought by GM Park Jung Tae to be an art, Martial art , not a sport. We train for health – mental and physical. We build people, not fighters. This is GTF TaeKwon-Do. We build people, I call them “Champions of Peace”. Each individual is built as an independent champion, at his level. God has given each one something – one faster in the hands, another – in the
feet, a third – with something else… We must help them achieve the best for

What do grown-up children and students tell you about this,what GTF-Taekwondo gives them?

I am one of the lucky coaches and instructors who have received good feedback from their students (this is one of the pain points of most instructors that everyone criticizes them and generally very rarely hear good words). Two of my students, a boy and a girl, were at the youth camp where a Norwegian terrorist kills 76 kids on Utoya Island. They both came to life. The boy, maybe four hours after the incident, sent me a text saying:I have no words to thank you for teaching me to be mentally strong, to be able to control panic and fear, to keep my composure. I managed to survive, thanks to this I still keep this sms with these strong words today.

Do you have any observations – how the technique in Tae Kwon Do has
changed in recent decades on a global scale?

The technique becomes more powerful and harder. In patterns I miss the flow and in sparring, I see differences in stands/positions – they are now leaning more towards kickboxing. For example, the guard is no longer

lateral, which is characteristic of taekwondo, but frontal – exactly kickboxing. Sadly I see that there are organizations that enter boxers and kick boxers into competitions who have taught them to lift their legs to be recognized as taekwondo fighters. It also changes the image of TaeKwon- Do as sparring, as fighting. Taekwon-do is this – “tae” – foot, “kwon” – hand and path.

Is it becoming more accessible or on the contrary,the achievements of the best are increasingly driving the rest away from its practice?

After many years of preparing competition TeamI felt in 2016 we were ready. Our first participation was at GTF- World Champinship in Kazan Canada. I had Team of 12 boys girl. Amazing success, we became the 3rd best nation, We won over big country as USA, Germany, Kazakstan, ca… Then success continue the years after, at bot WC, EC, Auro &Asian. At 2018 junior black belt World Champion, Euro Asian 15 participants came home with 18 medals. Last year at GTF- WC 2022 in Sofia Bulgaria. My Team World Champiosn – Team Paterns, both black and color belts. 2 juniors black belts world Champions. I also have competitors who become national champions in Norway. I have not counted how many medals we have won. But this is important for the students, these are accomplishments for them that bring joy to them; I help them grow. Of course, I’m also happy for them, and I say to myself: “Look, I’ve managed to train champions too. But these achievements I do not count; I value more those with cerebral palsy, with Down Syndrome, as well as with other mental disabilities, who do not want them in any other sports in Norway, and we take them.

What is the place of martial arts in Norway? Does the average Norwegian
like them? Is it expensive to practice martial arts, what kind of people turn
to them?

Martial arts are very popular in Norway, but for example, full contact and knockdowns are prohibited by law, even in professional boxing. Norwegians have many world champions in similar disciplines. But the philosophy of one of the biggest federations is “Train your body and soul as it is one, then you are completed Martial art students. They train fighting styles more for their personal health. In Everyone wants physical training, mental training, a social environment that the club provides, to raise their self-esteem… I call it: building character as a whole person. Martial arts degrees are a way of development. Each color of the belt represents one level of development; it teaches them that this is how life should be. Whatever they do: to pursue a higher education, then – to work – these are all steps that they have to overcome. This carries over into their personal life, career, ca… This is very important that, everything is doing voluntary. Another importance we have done in Norway is that regardless of which organization you belong to or where you train, there are open tournaments that you can participate in, under general rules. Everyone has their own instructors and masters, but our common goal is to present TaeKwonDo in the best possible way. The Federation has a big role in bringing us together. Twice a year we gather all the leaders in taekwondo, talk, meet old friends, discuss.

Are Norwegians willing to invest in their physical development?

I think Norway is one of the countries where people spend the most money on their fitness. Fitness centers are overcrowded and quite expensive. Norwegians are a very sporty nation; all Norwegians are said to be born with skis. The Ministry of Sports in Norway, together with the Ministry of Culture, allocate millions to support sports clubs and organizations that organize mass events to improve physical health. If you have more children in clubs, you get more funds to support these events, clubs are encouraged to conduct training for children. In my club there are children who don’t pay fees, we take them to the summer camp to learn Taekwondo values.

Which aspect of Tae Kwon Do is most interesting to you: forms, sparring,
special technique, strength test. What is Tae Kwon Do for you – more
sport or more martial art?

Philosophy has always come first for me. It derives from both samurai philosophy and Chinese philosophy. Taekwon-do is not directly related to Buddhism, but it has borrowings from it as well and influence by Zen. Of course, the philosophy of the General, about a theory of strength, self- control, the mental part that must go hand in hand with the physical. Without the mental part, I wouldn’t be doing Tae Kwon Do, I would be a boxer for example. I love all aspects of Tae Kwon Do. Special technique has never been of much interest to me; it involves a lot of acrobatics and special training. And the best ones there are actually born talents. Breaking. There were years when we were crazy to break, that’s why today we have injuries.Breaking is to overcome your fear, to overcome yourself – because there are no limits that. Tae Kwon Do was created for defense, not for attack. Therefore, all forms start with a block and then a strike. I love spinning kicks a lot. Each technique has a purpose, its purpose. The combination that makes taekwondo perfect is that there are so many techniques. GM Park the founder of GTF was one of the best kickers, he have impressed me many time with his amazing skills. Last year you were nominated in the best competition trainer in Norway.

What does your nomination mean?

For me it means that my work with all these people, Norwegians, foreigners, people with disabilities, is noticed and gives results. The nominations are sifted through several times and I was among the ten coaches who received the most points. I never expected it, never even thought of it; after all – this is martial arts, this is not football, which is the most popular sport. She only proves to me that people see, think and appreciate. I am an honorary citizen of Tromsø and the mayor of the city presented me with an award for culture and sports in 2010 for my 30 years of work with children, adolescents and foreigners. In 2016 I was awarded from NIF/OL- Norwegian Sport Federation and Olympic Committee with the highest prestige award in sport in Norway, The golden pin “Hederstigen“ I came from family of musicians. I graduated from the Variety Department. My father, mother, brother, also a musician, and I start as musicion, but on the way my interests and life changed. I start training combat in Bulgaria what I was 14- 16, boxing, sambo, wrestling. But was missing the “DO“ the philosophy. Happily I find it in my first lessons of Taekwndo in USA.I got bitten of virus, and this virus never leave me. The road “Taekwondo“ have been long, windy, challenging giving. After many years of dedication and contribution for TaeKwondo in 2009 I get promoted to 7 th Dan, master, in 2016 I had the honor to be promoted to Senior Master 8th Dan GTF, personally received the Certificate from GTF President HGM Linda Park during the European Championship in Northern Cyprus TRNC. Hopefuly this year I can be promoted to GM 9th Dan.

In conclusion what have you learned from Tae Kwon Do all these years?

Every year that you mature, you see that you realize things that you knew before in a new way. This helps you to be even more demanding of yourself, in what you do, what you say. We are a kind of representatives of taekwondo, its ambassadors. When a child sees us with a black belt, he is impressed, he absorbs what you say, what you do. TaeKwon Do also has an educational role. This is the integrity of the martial art. See the happiness in the eye of my students, see that I have manage not a few to help to grow and became “A champions of life and peace“ That I am healthy and still 4 times in a week at the Dojag teaching all from age 6 to over 70, Even I reach age 75.

Senior Master Ivan Tzatchev GTF (VIII dan),
mail: [email protected]

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