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Leading with Passion

with Akmal Farah

In this episode of Breaking, we sit down for part three of our conversation with Master Akmal Farah, CEO and coach at Authentic Taekwondo in Markham to talk about:

👉 Developing his unique coaching style for Taekwondo..

👉 How Taekwondo built his character and prepared him for life.

👉 Making the leap from a 9-5 job to coaching martial arts full-time.

👉 The importance of instilling values with his students early on in training.

👉 Adapting and pivoting to an online training environment during the pandemic.

👉 And much more.

Master Farah began his Taekwondo practice in April of 1994 and in 1997 he went on to win his first Canadian National Championships in the Bantam weight division. He credits his motivation and inspiration to Grand Master Young Su Choung and Coach Tino Dossantos. Master Farah has competed at many world championships, Pan American and other international events successfully. He has finished top 8 at the world championships and earned a bronze medal at the Pan Am Championships, through 4 years on the Nationals Team. During his tenure on Team Canada he served many terms as its team captain, where he now brings that same dedication and drive to Authentic Taekwondo.


Find Master Akmal Farah at:



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Muhammad Kermalli –

Triena McGuirk –

Min Woo Park & Diana Hong @ 6 Story –

Episode Transcript

*This transcription was made for your convenience. Please excuse any mistakes the automated service made.

Muhammad Kermalli: so just sitting here today with usually I, I would, and now I can feel so much more comfortable saying it master Akmal Farah, uh, with his journey through the, the first day at TaeKwonDo, right.

Muhammad Kermalli: Where we are like average, not even thinking about goals, not even setting goals all the way to, not a provincial champion, but going out there representing Canada, um, steps from being a national champion, it’s really not a big distance from where you were to actually going all the way and finishing you’d completed so much of this mountain.

Muhammad Kermalli: Uh, so the view from, from there and the struggle along the way and all the lessons that you’ve learned, that you’re going to be sharing with us today. So thank you for coming and I’m looking forward to, to doing this. Thank you

Akmal Farah: for having me.

Muhammad Kermalli: I was reading this, um, poem. On TaeKwonDo, that’s some, uh, master had written and it was just through some kind of S Google somehow showed it to me.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. Uh, and it talks about finding stillness and motion, finding stillness in motion. And my last essay was about like, you know, really I was trying to reflect on the moment, right. And just being present super, super, super present in every moment. Uh, I’m a waste from that. And it’s kind of like one of my targets to get better at, um, where, whereas, you know, this, this essay talks about like, it’s amazing how it talks about like, uh, knowing, you know, where to focus on.

Muhammad Kermalli: And it actually talks about it’s a poem, if you will, on like, it talks about like the power comes from the waste and this and concentrate that, and then one of the lines is find your stillness in motion. And I keep thinking about that, the stillness and motion still in motion. And I I’m looking forward to where that will lead me.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. I can’t wait till the day that I find complete stillness in motion. Um, and everything will stop looking like it’s moving so fast and everything will actually start slowing down. And I found out, and then I come to the realization that actually, while we would look at it, we would look at it as slowing everything down, whereas to the rest of the world, we would be going at like this laser speed.

Muhammad Kermalli: But we’re not thinking about going faster. We’re talking about slowing everything else down. I think that’s a great strategy. I never

Breaking 567 Host_1: thought of

Muhammad Kermalli: that

Akmal Farah: before. It’s interesting. Now, you know, when we’re, when we train things over and over again. Yeah. We are actually are slowing things down. So, you know, we’re, it’s like you and I are sparring, but the more we spar, you know, the more we slow each other’s movement down that I could read the little nuances a lot better.

Akmal Farah: Right. And that’s the same thing when we’re in competition, you know, when we were in competition, it’s like, you know, people see from the outside and it’s like, we’re moving so fast. But in, in when you are at a level where, you know, you feel, especially if you’re having a great day, you know, you can actually sleep little things.

Akmal Farah: And I think, you know, the movie that kind of describes as best as probably Spiderman. There’s a scene in Spiderman where, you know, he’s just seeing everything moving in slow motion, and you can decide like which way he wants to move, like making almost like slow decisions in terms of like, do I want to go left or do I want to go right?

Akmal Farah: Or, you know, and you can see everything so much clearer because you’ve seen it like so many times over and over again. Um, so I think like, that’s almost like the stillness in motion, you know, you can, there was a time when I was competing and it’s like, I could, you know, obviously it’s a smaller arena, but, um, you know, I could see like, who was cheering for me even, you know, even though you’re like focused on your opponent.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. I could hear the voice. Yeah. You know, there was a point where I, I was fighting from somebody from my own club and when two people from the same club were fighting, everybody else kind of stayed silent because you don’t want to choose side more brothers and sisters. And I heard this one person cheering and I then, but you don’t want, it’s like, you’ve been there so many times so alert to it.

Akmal Farah: You saw alert that you could sense more than just the competition.

Muhammad Kermalli: So it’s interesting. Like now we see all the, kind of the benefits that come. Can you imagine life without. TaeKwonDo anymore. Can you,

Akmal Farah: you know what it’s like? Uh, I feel so one dimensional, but it’s great because I feel like I can also offer that same thing to a lot of, a lot of parents where they feel like, you know, my son is not disciplined or my child is not as respectful at home or at school.

Akmal Farah: And it’s like, well, I’m going to take them out. And then, you know, I say, well, you know, especially this, this week, I just got an email from my parents saying, huh, my son only listens to you higher and doesn’t listen to anybody else. So we’re going to take him out. So I said, well, why do you want to take him out?

Akmal Farah: If he’s listening to me? Wow. And let’s strengthen that. And then, so that he could start to trickle into other areas of his life. Right. If he’s not doing well in school and not doing well at home, but he’s doing well in TaeKwonDo. Yeah. Keep that, uh, allow that to be kind of like his normal, and then you can start to trickle it if you take that, that sense of discipline from one area.

Akmal Farah: And now he has a nowhere, like where are you going to start from next time? Wow. Yeah. So she actually, and I actually explained that to her and she said, you know what? I’m going to make more of an effort. Yes. Because this pandemic has thrown a lot of people off a hundred regular schedule, a hundred percent.

Akmal Farah: So now they’ll try to make a routine for him so that he’s working, he’s coming on the days that I’m

Muhammad Kermalli: there. Yeah. I mean, personally, I’ve gone through the same thing, even with Majid. Uh, you, you probably remember, like we weren’t like regular were coming one. So we twice a week, um, in the middle of this pandemic, there was nothing else out there to do when he was doing it online, he was doing it online.

Muhammad Kermalli: And, and then now he’s gotten to the point where he’s like coming three days a week. Um, and now the other things that weren’t available are now starting to become available again. And that’s another, there’s a choice. And, you know, since you put him into some of these other things that he’s doing. Uh, his sense of being proactive towards TaeKwonDo has changed also.

Muhammad Kermalli: So it has this like exponential, like it, it gains momentum and it’s getting to some like really good places now. And now it’s like, yeah, but we have TaeKwonDo that night. I was like, huh, that’s interesting. So when, when I ask you, you know, you said one dimensional, I don’t think it’s one dimensional at all.

Muhammad Kermalli: If there were a dimension that you want to choose, this is the one dimension. And I think everybody should have. And I say that I have a bias towards it. Yes. Um, when I’m talking to people about the martial arts journey, um, I often say to them like this, I go, don’t think of it as like any other sport. It just makes you better at all the sports and not just one sport live school, everything.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then it’s not just like also when you want to choose the club that you want to go to all these other clubs, they not all, but so many it’s about the sport. It’s about go get a trophy. It’s about when the competition, um, S you know, spar and be the best fighter. Whereas what I love about our club is that it is so much more than that.

Muhammad Kermalli: And it’s not to say that these things are not important, but they’re not as important. Um, and this club recognizes that and you recognize that. So it’s interesting that, you know, you started all the way back from the last time we sat down and I tell you constantly, like, we were just talking like I, from the last time we talk, all I keep thinking about is, uh, uh, you, when you were, how old, when you were on that

Zoran Lazic: Laurie, maybe a nine.

Muhammad Kermalli: Nine. Okay. So I’m thinking about you as a nine-year-old at night on the back of a truck going up the side of a mountain road, uh, from Afghanistan to. I keep, for some reason that was a highlight to me because I keep thinking, like, I wonder what the temperature must have been. Like, you know, I wonder what it’s like to sit on the back of a truck at night, going from one place to the other, and it’s a one-way ticket.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. And what did the, the night air feel like and smell like what was the, all the sights and the sounds along the road. Um, and as I was asking you about that, you, weren’t thinking about looking backwards, you were looking forward, constantly looking forward. And from our last discussion, what I kept wondering was, is it oblivion

Breaking 567 Host_1: where you, where are you oblivious to it?

Breaking 567 Host_1: Or

Muhammad Kermalli: did you have a predisposition to just, you know, focusing on the future? What would you say?

Akmal Farah: I think I trusted my parents instinct w you know, they, they led the way and it was, um, it wasn’t like the disgusted with us to be like, you know what kids we’re going to, we’re going to pack up and go. And it was just like, um, you know, we’re leaving and this is what we’re going to do and you all coming, so.

Akmal Farah: Okay, great.

Muhammad Kermalli: So even something like that, you hear the word again, trusting something or trusting someone or trusting a feeling, right? Your, your sense of trust is so, um, developed at that point in time. It’s a small little thing, but don’t you think that’s a huge thing today? Like when you’re, uh, we’ll talk about it, I guess in some detail, like when you’re in a specific fight for a specific, you know, outcome, that ability to trust oneself, you had it ever since.

Muhammad Kermalli: That moment. I see it. I don’t know if you see the way I see it, but I see it. And then there is fast forward to that bully discussion that, you know, we kind of got a little heated. I wouldn’t say we got heated on, but I was like, no way I didn’t handle it like this. And I regret that. I didn’t. And you’re like, no, I don’t know.

Muhammad Kermalli: But, um, I think about that. And even again, there had to be a lot of trust in, in like an outcome because when you, when we’re in that moment, the emotion just takes over. There’s a lot of fear. Um, and, and then it’s like knee jerk reactions, not a lot of intelligence to it. Forget about walking a higher road, you know?

Muhammad Kermalli: So again, trust comes up again, there in yourself. No, cause your parents are not there. Your brothers are not there. And you’ve got a lot of brothers and they’re big guys. I know them. Uh, we trained together and, um, they’re not there to give you your strength. So where do you get that? We didn’t get that trust from where’d you get that confidence from?

Muhammad Kermalli: Do you remember like where I think,

Akmal Farah: you know what, th the fact that I, maybe I was the youngest of my siblings, um, I think they may, maybe my brothers kind of led the way, um, you know, like if my parents dictated, like, we’re going to go this way. You know, obviously my eldest brother and my second oldest brother and my other brothers kinda like lead the way and I was at the end.

Akmal Farah: So I was like, okay, well, everybody’s going that way. You know, you, you follow the family. And, um, and I did, and I never really questioned

Muhammad Kermalli: them. You have the good fortune, I think also of having some great, positive, loving influences around you and it shows, right? Like, um, even till today, when I watch you and your family members, how you guys come together, how you support one another, that’s amazing, uh, that you do that.

Muhammad Kermalli: Now we see that from the outside. We don’t see like, Hey, you might have a difference. You might have a disagreement. You could even have an argument or fight. Uh, but in spite of all that, the family, how it comes to. Uh, and how each one of you treat each other’s kids. Like they’re your own too, like, you know, um, and you allow for that.

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s a great, it’s a very, very healthy environment. Anyone who comes to the club knows the name FARA and sees the different frauds that are there. And they’re also consistent, uh, in terms of like the way that they, they push each other forward. And that there’s a lot of trust in one another. So I think that’s another huge, you know, leverage that if you see, you’re able to look at, but you know, coming back to you right here, you are now you’ve landed, you’ve gone through these things and you meet now the world.

Muhammad Kermalli: And I’d love to kind of like take a closer look at that today. And I love that you’re wearing, you know, even that, uh, that hoodie today, um, that the world of martial arts and TaeKwonDo kinda like, you know, manifests or, or comes forward to you, is it, it’s something that you said your brother was already doing and you saw him, was this from back home, right?

Akmal Farah: Yes. My brother was involved in a little bit of, um, I think boxing back home. Okay. Um, and then, uh, when we went to Pakistan, Adeeb was involved in martial arts, uh, heavily, uh, they were training outdoors and it was like on concrete. And then, you know, um, as we were mentioning earlier, like really they had, you know, their, their uniform had changed colors.

Akmal Farah: Their belt were worn out and they were like drenched in sweat, uh,

Muhammad Kermalli: standing about that.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. And they were very strong and, you know, they were training against each other, no equipment, no protective equipment. It was just like, um, very, very real like, and, and, and for me, I wanted to join in that, you know, that intensity, that, that energy that they had, uh, I love that.

Akmal Farah: Uh, but obviously my parents, they knew that we weren’t going to be there for a long time. And so they said, you know what? No, just wait till we go to Canada. And when we landed to Canada, I was excited. And I was like, okay, here’s my opportunity. I’m ready to go. Like, where are we going guys? But then obviously, you know, Coming from a place like Afghanistan, where you’re like middle upper class, uh, you know, income, you come to Canada and you’re basically starting from the ground from the bottom.

Akmal Farah: And so we, we couldn’t afford it. And then, um, but I, I always wanted to do it. So that interest was always there, you know, watching Bruce Lee movies and, you know, kind of acting it out at home. Maybe my parents really, they, they saw that specifically my eldest brother, and he was starting to, you know, make good money at that time a little bit.

Akmal Farah: Um, and then he, one of his friends was doing TaeKwonDo and then he said, um, I know you want to do TaeKwonDo. I go to this club and it’s okay. But if you really want to go, this is the place to go. And this was 44 Vaughn road on St. Claire in Toronto. And he was, you know, 80 or this time

Muhammad Kermalli: I was 16. Okay. So that’s not early to, to be introduced to

Akmal Farah: TaeKwonDo.

Akmal Farah: No, it was actually pretty late. Yeah. It w it was pretty late. And, uh, but the good thing was, is that this place was, was an incredible environment where it harnessed like a lot of, you know, people’s energy, uh, whatever it was, you know, to make them into this amazing athletes. Um, there was a lot of national champions.

Akmal Farah: There’s was a lot of Olympic champions. The coach himself was a two time Olympic team coach. Um, and so, you know, as soon as they see somebody has that knack for, uh, the desire for competition, they’d be like, okay,

Muhammad Kermalli: let’s go. This is the second time I’m hearing about St. Claire today. That’s amazing something about St.

Muhammad Kermalli: Claire.

Akmal Farah: Yeah, that actually there was a moot high club across from us that he was, he was very good as well. So

Muhammad Kermalli: Zoran went to the. ’cause he talks about when we tie and he talks about St. Claire, we’re going to come back to that later.

Akmal Farah: Fathers’ in St. Claire, that, that area. But, um, yeah, it was very close to us, so we knew that we knew them.

Akmal Farah: Um, but when I started to TaeKwonDo, yeah, I wouldn’t take one though. And, um, you know, I remember I was just sitting in the office first day, my first day. I remember, I remember just sitting there in the office and he said, you know, um, you know, people are usually chained by different things like mentally, and the coach said change.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. Like you’re, you’re, you’re held down by different things in your life. Okay. And he said, basically what I do is I cut those chains to let you fly. And, you know, I’m just sitting there as a young boy, you know, imagining this bird that’s chained down and it’s like, you know what? Yeah, he really does lift you up.

Akmal Farah: He really, uh, you know, he really does encourage you. He really does create an environment where you figure out your strengths and then, you know, you go on your own basically. Um, and, and that’s what, and that’s what TaeKwonDo is. It’s an independent, it’s a, it’s an individual sport. And so when you’re in the ring, even though you have all this training and stuff like that at the end of the day, you’re alone, and you do what you can to overcome the obstacles in front of you.

Muhammad Kermalli: So when you, you started there on your first day, I remember my first day to ever, I don’t know if everyone remembers it or not. Definitely that first day you’re listening. You’re you’re full of anticipation, right? There’s this eagerness. Um, you remember your second day, like when you first started getting to the actual training of it, how was it at the beginning?

Muhammad Kermalli: I,

Akmal Farah: I remember just like, you know, focusing on, you know, the fault. I remember somebody putting like a stick, like between, you know, in front of my leg to be like, if you just kick straight, you’re going to hit the stick. So make sure you fold above the stick and then extend the leg. So just learning front snap kick.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. Um, that was my first class. Yeah. So all the little, little things to kind of help you develop like the perfect kit that, that, that you want. Right. But then I, you know, the rest of the days, I don’t really remember because it moves very fast and they move into sparring really fast. And I remember, yeah.

Akmal Farah: You know, sparring against like some of these national champions as a, you know, yellow belt and it’s like, you’re a yellow belt. You’re a yellow belt, sparring, I guess national champions. And these guys are like, you know, don’t, they don’t waste time. It’s like either I get my practice done right. Or, you know, move out of the way so I can get to the next person that’s going to help me.

Akmal Farah: So they were going pretty hard. And, and you know, you, you basically learning they’re older. Okay. So I’m still, you know, 16 and they’re probably in their early twenties.

Muhammad Kermalli: So there’s a weight difference, size difference. There’s a talent difference,

Akmal Farah: experience, difference, everything. But you know what, when you spar against people who are way better than you, you, if you’re going to catch something, that’s that you’re going to take, and I’m, I have this, this, this, this idea that when you’re sparring with people, you get a little bit of them in you.

Akmal Farah: So, because, you know, if they’re, if they’re hitting you, they’re teaching you something about your weakness. And so obviously, you know, these guys are so good that they’re kicking all over the place, but if I can catch one of those cakes. I’m doing pretty good to be able to like, I block that one. Yeah. And so obviously at first you kind of like just moving and you don’t know what’s going on, but eventually you learn to, you know, keep your hands up, keep your hands up to protect yourself, and then you learn to move so that you know what maybe the best choice is not getting hit at all.

Akmal Farah: Did you

Muhammad Kermalli: get it like the first time or were there struggles along the way? Like I’m not getting this, this guy keeps hitting me. Does he ever feel that before?

Akmal Farah: For sure. You know what? I, I just, um, you know, you feel completely lost. Like you’re, you know, you’re thrown in the deep end and there’s

Muhammad Kermalli: like enough feeling even the progress, not

Akmal Farah: at all.

Akmal Farah: But then as soon as you fight against somebody, you spar against somebody your own age and your own belt. You’re like, wait a minute, like, this is different. Now I can read better. I can see the movements clearer. So, yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Wait, so you didn’t start with fighting people, your own belt. You went the other way you started, or did you start with people who were kind of like your.

Muhammad Kermalli: Your level.

Akmal Farah: So my memory is obviously of the times where I was kind of like challenged, heavily, you know, like just standing in front of somebody who didn’t really challenge me. It didn’t, I don’t remember it didn’t

Muhammad Kermalli: remember it

Akmal Farah: because it didn’t really amazing make it a significant impact on me. But obviously as I grew up up and got higher and belts, then I remember against my teammates who were like, same belt, like green belt, blue belt.

Akmal Farah: Then now I remember, you know, I remember we were having like intense, um, matches, like back and forth and you know what, we’re complete adults. And we still remember those days, you know, we still in contact, like, remember that time where, you know, I did this and, you know, blah, blah, blah. So, you know, we, we, you remember those, but the most significant memories at that time is like fighting against people that were like, you know, kicking you.

Akmal Farah: And then you kind of like, you’re learning and you’re kind of like you running almost like running or you’re backing up and they’re not stopping because they’re like either you learn to face your fears and kind of like overcome it, or I’m going

Muhammad Kermalli: to hit you necessarily there to teach you either. They’re right there trying to win they’re there for

Akmal Farah: yeah.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. So the coach is kind of like the one saying, okay, you go with him, you know, you do this, you do that. You know, maybe go at 60% or maybe 40% or a hundred percent, whatever it is. So they kind of like

Muhammad Kermalli: dictating an advanced. You actually heard them saying it out loud to them. Um, did you hear that later on when I got to the, well, I noticed what you do, I’m just wondering D did you ever hear the coaches actually saying that guys don’t go so hard on him or guys do 40?

Muhammad Kermalli: Or I heard

Akmal Farah: it. It never heard it. No, I didn’t hear it. But I remember when I was then when I, it was my turn to be when I became the champion and I was going against somebody, who’d be like, okay,

Muhammad Kermalli: now you’re being told, but the other guys not hearing

Akmal Farah: the other guy and you’re not hearing it. So you don’t

Muhammad Kermalli: know how hard it’s going to go.

Muhammad Kermalli: So even though you were struggling against these guys, they might not have even been going at a hundred pounds. And there they are still. Right. So what I’m wondering about is that as, as athletes, as people who are developing personally, even professionally, even as athletes, whether it’s recreational or not, there are these times where we find like, we all look for progress, you know, you heard the word, like the term results oriented.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. We look for that. And sometimes the results don’t necessarily come. There’s some what we call, like, I would say muted success, right? Like it’s muted. It’s still not quite recognizable. There’s progress happening, but we’re not seeing it. You feel that time. And in those moments, like despair can start kicking in.

Muhammad Kermalli: Do you ever feel, did you ever feel these moments of like, you know what, I’m not getting it something’s wrong? Like ever feel that? Or were you always like, oh yeah, I just learned something. Come on.

Akmal Farah: To be honest, I just love the environment. I, you know, again, coming to Canada and, you know, just being surrounded by other immigrants, it was really nothing to kind of look, look forward to like, yeah, of course you look forward to your report card, your graduation, you know, end of year, going to your new school or something like that.

Akmal Farah: Right. But that’s pretty much it. So this environment really gave me an idea, like a S a sense of goals, goal to get your next belt goal, to, you know, progress. Right. Um, goal to become, to have like a long-term goal to become like a national champion, which I had never, ever thought that could, that dream could be possible.

Akmal Farah: Right. But, you know, having other, other kids who are like my age or the teenagers, my age, and kind of being like one day, I’m going to be, you know, I want to be a national champion or your coach being like, you have the potential to be a provincial champion. You should try it. That gives you an idea of like a direction.

Akmal Farah: And so coming from no direction to being in a place where you have direction and it takes time to get. You’re not really looking for quick progress is now it’s like, okay, let me get to my yellow belt. Let me get to my green belt. Right. Let me get to my first provincials.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then, but that is progress too, right?

Muhammad Kermalli: Like the yellow belt. So you might not see it in the fight every single day as you’re sparring, but then you still know you’re on your way. You’re getting closer to that from yellow to green or from green to whatever. Uh, you’ve still felt that. So that was kind of keeping you motivated. Right? Definitely.

Muhammad Kermalli: Did you, when you first started ever say to yourself, yeah. I’m I see myself one day being a national champion, you always have that kind of as a goal or cause you talked about, you know, a D they were working out on concrete, they were sweating, you know, that DRA draws you in. You always wanted that. You love the Bruce Lee movie.

Muhammad Kermalli: Why did you go straight to like, I want to be a national champ or what, what were your, what were your thoughts when you first started? What was like, was your goal? So, yeah,

Akmal Farah: was my goal was to just learn to kick and punch. That was my goal.

Muhammad Kermalli: That was it. There was no national champion. No

Akmal Farah: way I had, no, I had, I didn’t even have any idea of what a national champion was before coming into tech window, not at all.

Akmal Farah: And then, but then the environment had that, that place had a lot of

Breaking 567 Host_1: national

Muhammad Kermalli: champions. I always thought national champion, every national champion was like, born with this. Like, I’m going to be great. You know, uh, I, they saw themselves as that from the very beginning, but that’s not necessarily the case you could walk in and you could not even see it as a goal on the first day.

Muhammad Kermalli: Not at all. And so what, at what point in time did you start having that type of a goal? Was it somebody saying it to you first? Or was it you thinking it first? Do you remember like which order that went in?

Akmal Farah: I, I think, I think somebody. Must’ve said, you know what? You have the potential, like, you should try it.

Akmal Farah: You should, you should try it. And it was a very, uh, uh, competitive club to begin with sending a lot of athletes to local tournaments, sending a lot of athletes to provincials nationals,

Muhammad Kermalli: you know, seeing it, seeing this going on around you.

Akmal Farah: And then, you know, me going to my first tournament, um, you know, just as a

Muhammad Kermalli: color belt, right.

Muhammad Kermalli: What’s going to a tournament. Part of the experience of being

Akmal Farah: at this club, this club. Yeah, absolutely. Like if you say, if you didn’t want to do it, that was fine too. But majority of the people there were competitors, um, you know, look, recreational doesn’t matter, high level, whatever it was, you were a competitor.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. I remember that. Yeah. And so going to my first tournament, you know,

Muhammad Kermalli: uh, I lost before you get to the tournament. Cause I’m, I’m trying to, as you talk about it, I’m thinking about it too, is like, even when I first started, you can’t help, but notice trophies hanging around. Right. And you go and one day stand in front of one of these and go, oh, that’s a first, that’s what a first place trophy looks like.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. Right?

Breaking 567 Host_1: Yeah. These huge

Muhammad Kermalli: droves, the size of the person themselves. And then you’re like a wonder and you see who got it. And then you’re observing them. You’re sparring them one day. Right. Is that how, and then you start thinking, wait, I just sparked this guy, this person who won this is standing right over there.

Muhammad Kermalli: And I know like, you know, and then you start building up this idea that I feel like that’s when the ideas form and that’s maybe why they placed those trophies there too. Right? Like, you know, like, Hey, maybe you could do this.

Akmal Farah: And the other cool thing, aside from the trophies was the pictures of these trips that they had gone to, whether it was like Barcelona in 92 Olympics or Seoul Olympics, world championships in a wherever they were.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. It was these. Pictures and, you know, you’re walking by the hallway and you’re looking at all these pictures and maybe you’re envisioning yourself when you go on

Muhammad Kermalli: those trips. So that ha that happens the four. Yeah, I think so too, you

Akmal Farah: know, you see them on there on the podium, you know, putting their hands up and they’re like, oh, I wonder what it feels like to stand on the podium and have your hands up like that.

Akmal Farah: Um, and you know, it’s, it’s, it is, it is an incredible feeling. You’re almost like you’re visualizing yourself before. You’re

Muhammad Kermalli: even there. Nobody has told you yet that you can do that. You can do it,

Akmal Farah: but you’re looking at it, you’re looking at it and you’re picturing yourself being there. And then you start to maybe start to have dreams of becoming a champion and representing your country at a high level.

Akmal Farah: Like what an honor that would be, uh, and really, it was just a dream and there was no sense of reality to it at all. Uh, but you know, you start to, you start to think that you can, right. And so your motivation motivates you and you’re kicking you’re punching, and then you go to your first,

Muhammad Kermalli: you go to your first tournament and it wouldn’t before you go to this first tournament, just kind of leading up to it, knowing that it’s coming these, like there, butterflies, excitement the night before, you know, there’s a tournament coming up the next day.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. The same feelings or was it just kind of like, yeah, I’m going to tournament tomorrow. Oh, for sure.

Akmal Farah: You know, you’re you don’t, you have no idea what to expect. You know, you have never been to a tournament before. And actually the first tournament was actually a pretty nerve wracking because my brothers for the first time came to watch me.

Akmal Farah: One brother has my bag of equipment, you know, and then my other brother has the camcorder and, uh, you know, I’m there and I’m competing. Um, remember your first fight? I,

Muhammad Kermalli: yeah, I learned before he first fight you.

Akmal Farah: I don’t remember my moment the first night, because I had watched that fight so many times and I lost no.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. So that was the only time

Muhammad Kermalli: I think,

Akmal Farah: you know what? I don’t think it, the, the thing was it, for some reason, it didn’t discourage me from

Muhammad Kermalli: continuing before your fight, when you were preparing for that first fight. I really want to know this because it means so much to me to understand this. You obviously don’t go into any fight expecting to lose.

Muhammad Kermalli: What was there in your mind, a plan if you lost or was your like, did you ever think, okay, what am I going to think if I lose? Did you think that before you started fighting, do you remember having this thought or was it kind of like I’m going in there to win? That’s the only option, that’s it. Okay. Right.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah. So same here. Like you go in and you’re thinking I’m doing this, obviously, because I want to win. There was no plan for not winning. Okay. And then you don’t win. Now what you’re,

Akmal Farah: you’re, you’re broken, you’re broken.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right? Cause there was no plan of what to react. Like if there there’s no loss and not your, like

Akmal Farah: all your training, all you’re trading, everything is like, and then obviously you have to face your brothers who have been there and it’s been recorded.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. And it’s really, you know, local tournaments are like one round, two minutes and they’ve been there for like three, four or five hours waiting for that two minutes and it’s done. And it’s like, yeah, you’re going home as well. How do you, you know, how do you face yourself? So what, how do you face them?

Akmal Farah: It was just a very quiet ride home and that’s it. And, uh, you know, um, you go back on Monday and you start training again, you know? And you, you realize that you didn’t win, but you could potentially do better next time. Um, and then, but you know, the good thing was like, I guess in the. You know, you think people care, you know, and that’s a general philosophy that I learned as I, as I went on.

Akmal Farah: It’s like, you know, whatever I want, I felt really good obviously. But when I lost, I was really hard on myself. And even from the first one from the first one and all the ones afterwards, regardless of whether it was provincials or nationals or world championships, do you mean you were hard on

Muhammad Kermalli: yourself?

Akmal Farah: I was very, very hard on myself.

Akmal Farah: Like, why did I lose? Like, how could I have lost? Like, I shouldn’t have lost, you know? Uh, and I would, you know, uh, you know, obviously there’s, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re crying and you’re, you

Muhammad Kermalli: know, it’s very hard to actually yeah, yeah. You sit there and you get emotionally emotional about

Akmal Farah: it. You’re like, how could I lose?

Akmal Farah: Because,

Muhammad Kermalli: so is that part of the long ride home, like that happened from the first day? Um, or was the first day kinda like, ah, okay. I lost my first

Akmal Farah: one. Yeah. You know what? I didn’t really know what the heck was going on.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, it kind of gave you, you let yourself off the hook a little bit on the first one.

Breaking 567 Host_1: So

Akmal Farah: I think the first one was okay.

Akmal Farah: You know what? It was my first time. I just feel like I disappointed my brothers more than anybody else, you know? Cause they were there watching me, um, uh, and you know, and that was it. And okay, well thank you guys for your support. I’m going to try it again. Okay. Let’s go see what happens. But the unfortunate part is they never showed up again.

Akmal Farah: My brothers never, no family member ever came to another tournament ever again. And you know, it lasted for 13 years, my competition. And so, but that was okay. I felt like there was less pressure for me to perform because every event you go to, you don’t know what the outcome is going to be. Right. But having that less pressure of your parents or your brothers and your sisters watching you, you’re like, okay, it’s okay.

Muhammad Kermalli: Getting ready for your second one. You come back, you train, you know, know like, okay. Obviously I think sometimes even that first call it loss, it’s more of a learn right than a loss. Right. You would say, and you come out of that. Now. You’re like whatever level of training I was doing. I’m going to, I’m going to kick it up like X notches, right.

Muhammad Kermalli: This many times harder. So it, in a way like fuels you right there. Like it motivates you the loss, right. The learn, and now you’re getting ready. You now you got like a different mentality approaching that next tournament and you go to the next tournament, you’re getting ready for that. Did that, did that change really?

Muhammad Kermalli: The way you trained at that loss? Had you, had you won, do you think you’d be a different guy maybe, right. You know, you

Akmal Farah: know what, that’s an interesting question. Well, how are you? You’re absolutely right. I think, um, you know, when you win, especially when things come easy at the beginning, I think it makes you feel like, you know what, you don’t have to work so hard for it, but when things are, you know, it challenges you and it makes you reflect and it makes you, you know, be a bit tough on yourself.

Akmal Farah: You’re like, okay, either I give up or I go harder, I invest more. So, you know what I, and I think I did that. I guess I trained harder with more intensity, maybe spent more time doing more to try and like help myself. And I think even my coach was like, you know what? Just because you’re doing what everybody else is doing is not enough.

Akmal Farah: If you want to stand amongst, uh, above the crowd, you have to do more. And so, you know what, eventually as time went by, I would show up to training. I would train before everybody else train. I would train with everybody else. And then I would stick around a bit more and do a little bit more to like sharpen my techniques more.

Akmal Farah: Um, and I, and I felt like that was my advantage is that I would always try to spend more time than anybody else. And obviously when, when the training came, I would try to spend, I would be the most intense guy on the, on, you know, on the training floor than everybody else. Right. And those things I think helped me develop more as an athlete going, going forward.

Akmal Farah: Um, you know, um, next tournament, I don’t really remember any other color belt tournaments because that was such a significant one. Right? You know, recording these events was hard to come by at that time. So that was recorded. But then I don’t remember anything else, huh. But then when I got to that, that was my, I got there as a green belt.

Akmal Farah: And then when I became a red belt, my teacher had felt like I was ready enough to be fighting black belt. So he sent me to my first provincial, he loaned me a black

Muhammad Kermalli: belt. I was just going to ask you, cause you can’t go and compete in those without having a black belt. And he

Akmal Farah: said, just put down on the forum, you know, cookie one in progress.

Akmal Farah: Oh yeah. So it’s coming, but you are a black belt. And so obviously provincial, you know, people know like, okay, people get their black belt cookie one comes a bit later. Yeah. Right. So they gave me the black belt. I went and um, you know, I had trained and competed locally enough to be successful at my first provincials.

Akmal Farah: And I was like, amazing.

Muhammad Kermalli: When you’re getting ready for that. Now I’m going to ask the same sort of thing. Like you’re getting ready. You’re coming up to the first provincial. The, do you remember at that moment, do you recall the first fight, you know, and how you had gone in and how you had set up and you had prepared, but not one.

Muhammad Kermalli: Did you re, did that reflect back on you when you were there at that first provincial and you thinking about that at all? Um,

Breaking 567 Host_1: I

Akmal Farah: wasn’t thinking about it, but I, I, looking back now I realize my communication, uh, and my interaction with my coach had improved. Um, and it was very evident in that first provincials because, you know, he w he would set up a game plan and, and then I would try to apply it.

Akmal Farah: So, you know, was

Muhammad Kermalli: it coach there for your very first tournament? He,

Akmal Farah: so my coach was there, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember if he actually coached me or if it was one of my teammates who coached me. Got it. But obviously, so the first time you’re competing, everything is a blur. You go in and you’re fighting and then you leave and it’s like, I don’t even know what happened.

Akmal Farah: Yeah, yeah. Honestly, if you can remember one or two or three instances in that match. Yeah. That’s pretty good. But usually you come out and it’s a blur you don’t remember. And then you watch the tape and you’re like, oh yeah, that happened. That happened. That happened. But when you’re in there for that two minutes and the color belt matches, you don’t remember much at all.

Akmal Farah: Um, but as obviously as time goes by, you know, you, you can, you can kind of like slowed the temple down and then you can see things and you can remember things a lot

Muhammad Kermalli: more. So now you’re at your provincial.

Akmal Farah: I, my, my provincial, um, I, you know, I’m listening, I’m listening to my coach, I’m following, you know, his, his, his game plan and it’s going great.

Akmal Farah: I’m, you know, I won my first match and then my second match, I’m still at Saint Claire still, still at St. Claire. Yeah. It’s still same, same place. Um, I think that the provincial was being held at Humber college that year. And so, um, I remember my, my final matches

Muhammad Kermalli: bigger place now you’re going and yeah. So

Akmal Farah: bigger.

Akmal Farah: The arena is bigger, more people, more people, the more people understand rather than on the playing field, because local games is a lot more people in the playing field. Provincials is just like usually two or three rings matched, right. A maximum and most people are on the stands watching. So I’m in my final match.

Akmal Farah: I’m fighting against the sky and, um, you know, uh, first round we go in and it’s, you know, it’s kind of like tied maybe one, one

Breaking 567 Host_1: before we get to the front. I love how you

Muhammad Kermalli: guys get to the final match. So I’m still at the beginning of the day and you don’t even remember these other first initial numbers. I don’t remember it.

Muhammad Kermalli: You would just kind like get, get through it. Not even reflecting on any previous

Breaking 567 Host_1: loss. Just go forward, go forward, go forward.

Akmal Farah: I get to the finals and finals is memorable finals. Provincials. Yeah. That’s amazing. And you know, first round I go in and obviously you kind of like test it’s three rounds, three minutes each round.

Akmal Farah: Okay. So at that time it was three minutes now it’s, they’ve shortened it to two minutes and I go to the first round. And so the first one is usually like, test the waters, see how it is without major commitments.

Breaking 567 Host_1: Do you know

Muhammad Kermalli: this opponent where you watching this opponent? No. You hadn’t studied this opponent.

Muhammad Kermalli: Nope. They weren’t like, you know, sometimes like there’s the rumor mill inside the tournament and people are talking like, that’s the champ,

Breaking 567 Host_1: you know, when the champ walks around and the

Muhammad Kermalli: champ walks around with like this kind of like aura swagger. Yeah. Like they’re known, they’re known who they are. Like that one went to the nationals provincials, you know, it was there any of that going on?

Muhammad Kermalli: Did you hear any of that? Or you were again, were you oblivious to it or what? Like, this is the final.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. The good thing was is that our club was known to be like the champions. So being like part of young Chung TaeKwonDo, Hardy gave you a little bit of that swagger, but I wasn’t really the guy. So I was kind of like the coming up, but I was still young Chung.

Akmal Farah: Okay. But regardless, these guys were obviously black belts, way more experienced than I was. And I’m competing against them as a black belt. I’m a red

Muhammad Kermalli: belt. Right. So it’s got to give you a little bit of confidence too, like you’re sure

Akmal Farah: for sure

Muhammad Kermalli: that can go both ways that can be, can give you confidence.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like I’m here with these. Or, oh my God, I’m out of my league. Um, but now you’re the final, so you’re already,

Akmal Farah: yeah, you can pass all that. Um, you know, every matches kind of like independence, you know, you’re having a good day or you’re having a bad day, but then every match could be, you could turn upside down clearly.

Akmal Farah: You’re, you’re

Muhammad Kermalli: having

Akmal Farah: a good day. I’m having a good day so far, so good having a great day. And my coaches, you know, he’s happy and obviously having a good coach on your back that knows what’s going on and kinda like studies, it helps you a lot more. And so my coach, you know, Tino, Dosantos very, well-known still competing at that time himself.

Akmal Farah: Very sharp knows the game really well. And so he is almost like controlling me, you know, uh, with like put your right leg forward, move this way, do that. So first round we go in second round, he knows exactly what to do and he’s controlling me, okay, move here, do this. And I can hear him okay. Moves to the left when he kicks moved to the side and then you take it great.

Muhammad Kermalli: It doesn’t hear this. He

Moez Bawania: hears it,

Akmal Farah: but you know what we’re like ahead of the game. We, it doesn’t matter. Like, okay. You know, and then eventually he kind of like, lets you to your own devices. Like he tells you and then you okay. And then cause. You know, flow. Right. Doing good. Yeah. So,

Muhammad Kermalli: and your opponent, you didn’t know this guy, you didn’t care for who he was or

Moez Bawania: maybe my

Akmal Farah: coach, maybe he had watched his previous match or something.

Akmal Farah: We had an idea, but I did

Muhammad Kermalli: it. So you go in, you’re not really. Okay. You prepared on some level. Yeah. You hadn’t really studied it to the nth degree.

Akmal Farah: No, I know your opponents and I didn’t know that you had to do that. I didn’t know. You had to wow. Watch your coordinates, like just going like this, you know? Um, and so, okay, Sarah, around to your phone to I’m flowing and the score is like, I can’t remember.

Akmal Farah: I don’t know, like five, one or something now, what do you mean for you? Oh, you’re up. So first round was maybe one, one, we devised a plan implemented second round it’s five, one or something like that. We come out into the third round. I’m up by four or five points. Okay. Things are going great. That’s a great lead.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. So now I’m starting to feel a bit, uh, you know, overconfident, right? So I’m like, you know what, why should I listen to you? Come on the scene. I don’t say that to do my own stuff. Like I could do fancy stuff. And so I started to do like these fancy moves and stuff like that. And the guy does this kick.

Akmal Farah: I, you know, I try to do a flying psychic. I haven’t been the corner. And I, and I do a few kicks. I do a flying psychic and the guy kicks in the air and kind of like grabs me. And I fell on my back. Boom. And I’m winded. And my court done a sidekick all day. I could do this. I’m in the lead. I’m out here. The greatest.

Akmal Farah: Yeah, you can do this. And so my coach it’s on video. My coach is like, like this and he just turns away and he’s not even looking at me anymore. Mike, you’ve given up on me. So you fall down, you’re winded. Where do you look? He looked for support and he’s looking away and looking away. He’s like, you’re not following the rules that you’re not following the game plan.

Akmal Farah: You’re on your own. So I’m like, okay. So I have to like catch my breath again. Humbled, humbled a little bit, come back, go back to the plan and then finished the mask.

Muhammad Kermalli: It’s amazing. Right? Like the lead, what the lead does to our psychology. And we see it in like everything live basketball games, but there it is in that moment and it’s like, yeah, I’m going to do this.

Muhammad Kermalli: You, you wonder is there. Cause we look back as like the, I always say to myself or even people, I’m sure you say like, look, look at what got you here. Stick to what got

Akmal Farah: you here. Why do you get away from what got you here? Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Why do you think it is that we get away from what got us there? You did it yourself and you might say, oh, it was arrogance.

Muhammad Kermalli: I don’t know if it was arrogance. What do you think? Like, I don’t think it’s arrogance. You got away from the game plan that had gotten you there. Why?

Akmal Farah: I think you think that you could do more. Yes. You think there’s something? Um, I think, you know, you kind of, you know, if, if you have enough experience that you could kind of like change the game plan a little bit on your own, it’s fine.

Akmal Farah: But I wasn’t at that level where I could change the game plan because I had no idea what I was doing. I was being dictated on what to do and that was working. So keep stick to it, right? Like you want to win and that’s already, you know, pretty good or you want to win flashy. So everybody’s like, wow, that was so cool.

Akmal Farah: Or you can be like, Hey, that was an awesome fight. Great job. Like sometimes

Muhammad Kermalli: the best way. Sure. Simplicity is a great way. We all know this, but at that point in time, you’re like, I could change the game now. I think that’s a good thing. It starts from a good point. I think it’s a good thing. I’ve never been there.

Muhammad Kermalli: Like at that sort of, I have one tournament, but what you’re talking about, I so understand that and I’m thinking, wait, I’ve done this too where I’m like, yeah, now I’m going to do, now I’m going to show like, cause not like you’re beyond, like you’re in this other realm and you’re like, I can do anything. I think that’s a good feeling to have.

Muhammad Kermalli: And I think it’s good to trust you talk about trusting yourself. You must have had to trust yourself to do a flying kick, right. A flying sidekick. It’s not easy to execute at the finals, but it kind of be like, like, wow, imagine that highlight right. Taking it to another level. I think that’s, um, that’s good.

Muhammad Kermalli: That’s great ambition. It means like you’ve got self-confidence you call it overconfidence, but how do you ever know it’s overconfidence until you go there? Right.

Akmal Farah: I think that could be applied in so many different ways. Yeah. You caution

Muhammad Kermalli: people not to do that, but you did. And I think that’s a good thing.

Muhammad Kermalli: Don’t you think

Akmal Farah: it was still caution against it, even though you did do I did it. Oh my God. Really? Because you know what I caution against the things that you did. Yeah. So, you know what you, you take, um, it’s, it’s almost like as an investor, you know, you, you invest and you’re getting, you know, 8%, 10% return on your, you know, gains, but then maybe it’s a little bit of greed, you know what I mean?

Akmal Farah: Like you want more, so you gamble more of it, you know, to try and get more back. And I think a lot of people have, you know, it could be, um, you can get knocked out, you can have severe injuries and things like that because you’re going in unchartered waters now. Right. You’re not, you haven’t really been there before where you’re, you’re really opening yourself up.

Akmal Farah: Right. When you’re doing, especially in that, in that time, you know, it’s like, you know, you’re doing spinning kicks and you’re doing jumping kids and you’re, you’re doing things that’s kind of like, not within the plan and you haven’t really done that in a, maybe in a, in an event before. So why are you doing it now?

Akmal Farah: So you should really practice that first before you decide to do that at competition. So T

Muhammad Kermalli: would you then truly say that that was, yeah. Exempt if it was part of a game. That you get a green light, you know, either from yourself or from a coach, instead of like it being then more like ego-driven, which is like, I’m here, I got this guys, I can do this without you kind of thing.

Muhammad Kermalli: So it’s, it’s a good to kind of draw that sort of distinction that it’s not like, never do a flying sidekick. It’s do it at the

Akmal Farah: right time. We could do it according to your plan, do it according to a comfort level. I think don’t do it according to your ego. Like, you know, especially with the good feeling

Muhammad Kermalli: just before that moment.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right? Cause you’re seeing yourself having a sidekick and winning this thing, come on.

Akmal Farah: You’re well, you know what, you’re doing different kicks and it’s not really working, but then you try to do even more to try to like amp up because the crowd plays a role as well, doing more chairs and people are like, whoa.

Akmal Farah: And then you’re like, okay, well, you know, I gotta do more and ask, you know, it, it, you’re not really, you don’t really focused on winning anymore. Now you’re maybe focused on entertaining and that’s maybe it becomes a different, different, different game. So

Muhammad Kermalli: there’s a new challenge. And in just a moment, you can be five up one second.

Muhammad Kermalli: And next thing you know, you’re winded, you know, on the ground. Okay. Okay. I just needed to understand this a little. So you know, on the ground and you look over at master de Santos and he’s looking the other way, what are you thinking?

Akmal Farah: I’m thinking, oh my gosh. You know, because he’s an important,

Muhammad Kermalli: I don’t have hours to con to, to process

Akmal Farah: this.

Akmal Farah: You got to get up and you gotta be okay. Like I dusted off. Okay. Refocus, go back to plan a, stay focused, keep it simple. He kicks me out of the way slide and hit. Right. He doesn’t put the pressure and you hit first. And that was it. It was very simple plan. And he always. Really focused on simplicity, you know, he had, he had an abbreviation for it, you know, kiss.

Akmal Farah: Yes. Keep it simple. Stupid. Love it. Yeah. It was like, just keep it simple. And then if you could add a little bit more, add a little bit more, but don’t go crazy. Just keep it simple. Be humble, stay focused. And that’s it. And so

Muhammad Kermalli: naturally the outcome of round three and the, yeah. And

Akmal Farah: eventually I won, I came back, I brushed it off, went back to the plan, you know, kept my lead and lucky.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. Fortunate that, that wasn’t a turning point because those can be turning points for

Akmal Farah: the other guy, for sure. For sure. They, all of a sudden become excited and now they’re going, they’re kind of like, uh, you know, unloading on you and you’re like, oh my gosh,

Muhammad Kermalli: a little defensive after that a bit. They’re coming at you a little harder now.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. Because you know what I had, I felt like I really had, um, um, kinda like almost like not believing in himself anymore in the second round. Yeah. But when you got that moment and I hit the ground hard, it was, he felt, you know, and again, I have it on tape and he’s like, you know, he’s feeling good. And now it’s like, you know, I’m the man and now he’s feeling like he can, he can get it.

Akmal Farah: So he’s coming, he’s coming after me and now okay. But then the game plan was so good that, you know, I was able to catch him off again. And then I eventually ended

Muhammad Kermalli: up winning that day. So just curious, like when master the census turns away, you obviously, you mentioned that you remember that. When did he start looking back at you?

Muhammad Kermalli: Like, okay,

Moez Bawania: do

Akmal Farah: you remember? Like, so I just, I have it on tape. I’ve watched that moment turned away. I remember when he turned back. So he’s kind of like shaking his head of this appointment. Like, I can’t believe you just did that, but, um, you know, eventually when I start to kind of slow the game down three middle of rounds, there was one more round after this.

Akmal Farah: Nope. Nope. So kind of like now I’m slowing it down. I’m not doing the fancy things anymore. I kept the basic right. Then he’s like, okay, you’re getting over again. And you see the love and he’s like, okay, good job. You know, if I do it or, okay, good job. Or if I’m not doing well, like okay. Moves to the side or do whatever, you know, little things like that, he’s kind of getting back into it.

Akmal Farah: But at that moment I saw the disappointment and I was like, okay, I’m never doing that again. Yeah.

Moez Bawania: Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: So you feel his forgiveness, you feel the love. You’re like, you’re, you’re stabilizing yourself again. And then you go in and you close

Akmal Farah: the close, the deal and everything is good. Now you feeling good. You go back to the, you know, you go back to training on Monday again and, uh, you know, there’s discussions about it.

Akmal Farah: Like, Hey, that was pretty good. You know, just remember, you know, stick with the plan, like, you know, whatever’s happening, right. Even when things aren’t going well, stick to the plan and you know what, um, there are other moments where you do stick to the plan and it doesn’t work and that’s okay too. Uh, but as long as again, you know, going to the idea of trust, you have to trust your coach.

Akmal Farah: You have to trust yourself, yourself. You have to trust your coach and know, and you have to trust the plan that you’ve devised and you stick to it, you know, regardless of what happens. And, you know, I just, in the comradery you build in martial arts is really different than anything else. You know, I felt because you really putting yourself at risk of injury and those days, especially those, especially, um, you know, I remember one time I was competing against this guy and I, and I stuck to the planet and I got hit pretty hard.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. And you know what? My coach came up to me and he said, you know what, I’m really sorry. Like it happened. And I said, um, you know, I said to him, I said, you know, what, if you tell me to put my head in front of somebody, like I would do it for you. Right. I take your words. You’re telling this. I tell them that after the match, after the match, you know, obviously it was a pretty hard hit.

Akmal Farah: Like I, yeah, I did. I got to jumping back to my face. Oh my God. Yeah. And it’s hard. It’s really hard. I got to the hardest kick and I got a standing eight count. I got back up, I finished a match, but I wasn’t the same person

Muhammad Kermalli: and win the match or lose them. I lost

Akmal Farah: the match. So you lost the match. I lost the match.

Akmal Farah: I got hit pretty hard sticking to a plan, lose a match. And then, you know what I, at the end, you know, he was really hard on himself too, because it was like, it was together. We devised a plan together at his lead. This is what you do. And you do it and you get hit. And, um, you know what? I didn’t care because all this time I had been working.

Akmal Farah: Ah, yeah. So you can’t be like, well, you know what, like all this time has been working at that time. It didn’t work in like, I don’t, you know, I don’t care. I was like, no, I don’t care if it worked. If it didn’t work, I trust you. Right. You know, let’s get back to training and make it better

Muhammad Kermalli: next time. So, so, um, that’s, that’s amazing.

Muhammad Kermalli: Thank you for sharing that because you it’s great to see the first one. Um, there was a plan of sorts, right? Whatever plan it was, it wasn’t as maybe developed or sophisticated as the one that when you went to the provincial, but there was a plan. And in that first plan, it, you often hear this, like the first startup, the first experience, it’s like a complete, like, mish-mash like it’s a fall down, um, the long ride home, all of that stuff, uh, to the provincials.

Muhammad Kermalli: Um, were there any moments in between where. You, you recall that were highlights to you when you were in your training and this is before you were a black belt, obviously there’s a lot that happens even after you became black belt, but just very quickly. Was there anything, or like, you know, it was this progression, I guess, that took place and then finishes with this, with this win of the provincials, which is for black belts, for a guy who was not even a black belt now, what happens now?

Muhammad Kermalli: What happens? So you come back and you’re like, okay, I’ve won the provincials.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. Is that it? So now, now we aim for nationals. So this is 1995. Um, we’re aiming, you know, we’ve just won the provincials and then a bunch of other provincials happen. And then we finally meet at the final provincials with all the champions of different provincial.

Akmal Farah: Is that the same year, or that was the same year. And then, um, so basically in 19 end of 1995, you’re getting ready for 1996 national championships, which was held in Quebec.

Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. And so it’s an invitation, right? You don’t, he doesn’t just show up.

Akmal Farah: Um, usually you have to be part of the provincial team to compete at the nationals at that time.

Akmal Farah: Um, so you couldn’t just show up on your own. Um, so I went to, I obviously won the first provincials, but then I lost the final provincials. Um, and that was okay because that was my, really my first year, I was kind of like testing the waters, seeing what I was capable of. Um, so, but, but like I said earlier, you know, like every time I lost it got me motivated to train harder.

Akmal Farah: And so training for, um, the nationals in Quebec was a really big deal because here I am competing against all the champions from other provinces, uh, and you know, we’re meeting. And so I was really where I felt like I was really ready for it. And so, um, as I got went to provincials, um, I will do it when I went to nationals.

Akmal Farah: Um, you know, I am, you know, I’m watching the people that are fighting and, you know, watching the national champion that previous national champion now, you know who it is now. I know who it is. And like you said, you know, these guys are walking around with a little bit of swagger and I’m like, wow, That’s cool.

Akmal Farah: Like, I want to be just like those guys and watching them fighting and winning and going to, you know, it was really incredible. So when I went to Quebec, I lost my first match and I was honestly, like, I was almost devastated. Like I didn’t expect such a bad result. Like you had these go to the maybe, um, you know, quarter-finals, if not semifinals to win a medal or something like

Muhammad Kermalli: that, the provincial just before that also you didn’t

Akmal Farah: win.

Akmal Farah: I didn’t win. I got a bronze medal, but it wasn’t, you know, I didn’t get the gold not to you. So it wasn’t like great, but it wasn’t like complete disappointment either. Like, okay. I fought against other, there was some champions, there was some success, but I didn’t get what I wanted done better. That’s yeah.

Akmal Farah: And that’s okay. I got some, I felt like I got something out of it. Okay. I don’t need to win to go to nationals and that’s okay. So we go to nationals and I lose my first match match and I’m devastated. Um, so obviously I’m very hard on myself and, uh, you know, now instead of like two, three hours a day, I’m training, like four or five hours a day.

Akmal Farah: Oh. So that

Muhammad Kermalli: was it. You go in there, you lose the first match out. You go home, prepare, you have a game plan and you trusted it

Akmal Farah: and you’re out, you’re out. Yeah. It’s again, it’s another blur because you know, you have no idea what happens, everything moves so fast. Um, you go all the way to Quebec. You know, you spend your money, you spend, you stay at a hotel, you’ve invested everything.

Akmal Farah: You’ve invested, it’s gone. But you know, looking back now, those are experiences cars, you know, you got something out of it. We didn’t need to be a Jew. You learn that, you know what you’re training, wasn’t enough. You learn that, you know, you should study your opponents a little bit more and you learn that you should improve your intensity a little bit more.

Akmal Farah: You learn that your footwork, maybe it wasn’t,

Muhammad Kermalli: if anything, he could have been more intense,

Akmal Farah: you could have, but at the same time, everything takes time. You know, it’s like that first provisional. My ability only allowed me that simple game plan. My ability didn’t allow me to do those fancy moves. I didn’t, I hadn’t developed that yet.

Akmal Farah: Right. So, you know, based on my coach and myself, devising a plan, you devise it to the ability that you can, rather than the ability that you could. So we, we stuck to the plan and we did it and we were successful. You go to nationals, that ability wasn’t enough anymore. You don’t even want her first match.

Akmal Farah: So I,

Muhammad Kermalli: everything you had out there and you’re able to reconcile that, like I did give it my all. Absolutely. But it wasn’t enough. And it’s not the part where you start getting hard on yourself. Is that what you’re talking?

Akmal Farah: Absolutely. Excellent though. You give everything you have, right. You still, you know, it wasn’t enough.

Akmal Farah: So I was very hard on myself. So does that mean you were hard on yourself? Like, so, you know, you’re like, oh, I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough. I’m not, you know, I can’t, you know, you, you like, you know, it’s like very emotional you’re down on yourself. You’re almost like, uh, you know, you’re sad for a very long time.

Akmal Farah: I don’t want to call it depressed when you’re sad for a very long time, you know, you’re not in the mood to hang around with people, you know, this is depressed, isn’t it is depressed. It’s very sad. And you’re, you know, you’re very emotional and, you know, everybody wants to kind of go out and celebrate the event, but you’re like, you know what?

Akmal Farah: I don’t really feel like it. Like, I don’t want to go out. I have nothing to celebrate. Really sucks. It sucks. You know, you kind of like, you’re isolating yourself from a lot of, uh, you know, the, the experiences that comes with the competition, you know, with, you know, your,

Muhammad Kermalli: you’re not saying to yourself, well, I still won the provincials.

Muhammad Kermalli: I still got a bronze in the province. You don’t say that to you. Don’t say that.

Akmal Farah: That was in the past. You don’t care

Muhammad Kermalli: what you got. Just like, I didn’t

Akmal Farah: get, yeah. You were a champion for that moment. Now you have another moment. Like, this is you gotta, you gotta face this. Yeah. And so that happens even

Muhammad Kermalli: to provincial champs, they absolutely.

Akmal Farah: In TaeKwonDo, like provincial it’s, it’s an okay. It’s

Muhammad Kermalli: not only that, but a lot of people don’t even get past provincial. Right. So anyway, so you did and you,

Akmal Farah: so you get the nationals you lose. I know, honestly, like 1996, um, I trained very hard and I was, you know, I, I amped it up even higher, uh, especially in the summertime.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. I remember, um, uh, you know, going to training at like 12 o’clock in the afternoon training until like two, three, o’clock sleeping at the club and then waking up, you know what, the first children’s class around five o’clock training with them a little bit. My teacher taught me how to train with little, little ones where you could move as fast as them, but not hit them.

Akmal Farah: So you’re developing control and really good movements because kids, they don’t think about, um, you know, technique. They’re just thinking, go, go, go, go. And they’re excited. But if you hit them, you can hurt them. So you don’t want to hurt them, but you want to be able to move and exchange with them at the same speed, right.

Akmal Farah: Developing your own. And then, you know, also learning good movements. So then that was so I, I trained like, you know, five, six hours, you know, five, uh, four or five days per week. Wow. Regularly until 1997. Uh, which was the next nationals in July of 1997. So

Muhammad Kermalli: you trained five, six hours a day, five, six days a week.

Muhammad Kermalli: You weren’t doing that before your first

Akmal Farah: national? Absolutely not. Oh, I didn’t think it was necessary, you know? And you know, if the thing is like some ginger coach tell you this, my coach was like, you know, always giving like little stories about what it takes to be a good. Athlete, what it goods to be a good, like you have to do more on your own, you know, like yes.

Akmal Farah: Our training time is from, they kind of left it up to you. He left it up to you and then that’s where he went. Yeah. So our training was from eight to 10 as a team. But what you did before that, and after that was up to you, and if you wanted to show up earlier and train in the other classes that was up to you, you know, no one said don’t come or no one said, you know, you shouldn’t, but what you do is up to you.

Akmal Farah: So I was doing all that stuff and my teacher was encouraging me. Um, and so in 1997 was, was a really defining moment, uh, because here I am in 1996 losing my first match in 1997, the night before my nationals, I was praying. I was like, God, let me win my first match, please. So that, you know, I can say I went to nationals and I at least won my first notch.

Akmal Farah: Right. So I wake up my first matches against Quebec. Um, you know, the draws are out and, um, we’re fighting, it’s a close match and I win my first notch. Wow. And I’m like, ecstatic, wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy. Uh, it was a close match. Uh, I think the final score was maybe like three, two or something like that I could have lost for sure.

Akmal Farah: And I don’t know, you know, um, I don’t know how, I don’t know how I would have taken that if I had lost, like back-to-back, you know, maybe like if you lost after another, but you got through, I got through and my next matches against the Saskatchewan and I’m like, imagine I’ve, I’ve come to nationals. I’ve won my first.

Akmal Farah: And now I can say I won two matches. Right? Like it would be incredible. Right. So I’m, I’m fighting against Saskatchewan, another very close match and I win. And I’m now in the quarterfinals competing for a bronze medal in the semi I could, and now I’m in the semifinals. So it’s like within reach. And that means.

Akmal Farah: Now I could potentially be the third best in all of Canada. Wow. So I’m excited. I’m like, yeah. I’m like, no, nothing the year before and now I could be from the third. Yeah. It’s a very exciting day. And the cool thing is I had fought this guy before and it’s from Ontario. Uh, and, uh, and I thought, and I think I had beaten him before, so I think I can beat him again.

Akmal Farah: Right. So here I am in the match, but very cautious thing focused into the plan. And I remember him, like, he was very fast, very fastest spinning, and I just caught him in one of the spins. And that was kind of like the deciding moment. And I went, and I’m not now I’m a bronze medalist, right. Fighting for a

Muhammad Kermalli: silver medal.

Muhammad Kermalli: Okay. So you’re not looking at it like, okay, I’m third, best,

Akmal Farah: third, best. Now I could give up. Now I’m like, nah, no, I could be second. And the cool thing is at that year, they said, you can silver medalist. If you win, you can go to Germany for, for the world cup and then world, um, gold medalists go to Hong Kong for world championships.

Akmal Farah: So I’m thinking, wow, if I win the silver medal, I can visit my grandma in Germany. You know, like the excitement and the, the, the silver medal match was against the last year’s national champion. And I’m so excited. I’m throwing all these different kicks. And I remember I haven’t, you know, I haven’t, I’m the aggressor.

Akmal Farah: I put them in the, in the corner and he tries to come out of the corner at the thing and I just lift my leg and I hit him right in the face. And it was like another, like deciding moment for the match. And here I am, I beat the last year national champion. I have secured a silver medal, but I’m fighting for the goal now.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. So here I am waking up in the morning, not knowing it wasn’t all in one day it was, this is all in one day. So I’m like, yeah, I want to just win one match. Yeah. To being in the finals and fighting against a guy that I had idolized the previous, the previous nationals, which was like this amazing, um, individual, right.

Akmal Farah: Who’s still around teachers today. Really great guy. And I’m fighting him in the finals. Um, and this is for the world championships now to go to Hong Kong. And so, um, now a little bit of a doubt sets in like, ah, can I do this? Oh my gosh, I’m here.

Moez Bawania: And I’m like to love that. Can I do, like, it was waiting there the whole time.

Akmal Farah: And so we’re walking towards the ring. I remember vividly we’re watching it. We’re walking towards the ring with my coach. Do you know the Santos? And he looks at me and he goes, well, you know, you can do this. Um, you know, he’s getting old, like he’s been around for a long time. He’s been national champions many, many years, but he’s getting old and you can do it.

Akmal Farah: And at that moment, I remember envisioning him walking towards the ring with a cane and it’s like, all of a sudden, it just boosted my ego. I can, I can do this. I can take on this guy. Yeah. And so that, wow. Little little bit of a mindset changed, helped me to be able to execute my techniques at a more confident, more confidently.

Akmal Farah: Right. And so, um, you know, first round was tied. Second round was, was, you know, tied third round, you know what? He made a mistake. Like he was very, very close. He, he did a kick and I just, you know, he did a backache and somehow I went under his backache and hit his chest protector and it was like, um, two, one or something like that.

Akmal Farah: And I’m the national champion. Wow. And honestly, I lose my mind. Yeah. I am like, I’m like yelling, I’m screaming. I can’t believe it. And, uh, you know, it’s like, uh, I’m on the mat. I have my head bowed down, you know, uh, you know, like I’m praying to God, like, thank you so much. Like, I can’t believe that I’m a national champion.

Akmal Farah: I’m the, I’m a champion in Canada. Like, I’m just all these things. Like, I’m just an immigrant, Laurie, Laurie trustee, you know, the bullying in school that making fun of the, all these things like, oh, you know what, you’re you, you’re nothing. And now I am a national champion and my coach runs and hugs me and is like, swinging me around is like, I’m on top of the world.

Akmal Farah: It was the most incredible moment. And we run to the Ontario crowd where they’re sitting together and everybody’s like, you know, they’re cheering. And everybody’s like rubbing my hair and, you know, hugging me and stuff like that. And I’m like, you know, in 1997, I’m like, guys, can I borrow somebody’s cell phone?

Akmal Farah: You know, those big ones. And everybody’s like, I think it was like $5 a minute or something like that. I was like, ah, no, it was my battery’s dead. So I’m like, I run to the payphone and I’m like, ah, All right. Somebody there talking on the phone and I say, Hey, listen, man, I’ll be quick. Can I just use the phone?

Akmal Farah: I gotta call my mom. Nah. And he’s like, uh, did you win? And I said, yeah, it’s like, all right.

Akmal Farah: so I called my Molly for winners. Otherwise I wouldn’t. So I called my mom, like, mom, mom, your son is a national champion. And she is like, oh, that’s great. So, no, you know, it was in Toronto, it was in Toronto. So it was a university of Toronto. So he she’s like, oh, that’s great. Now come home. Cause dinner’s ready.

Akmal Farah: But it’s like, you know, it was like, I was like, no, mom, I’m not coming home. I’m going to go and celebrate with my friends. And she’s like, okay, that’s great. Now hear your brothers want to talk to you. And they understood the importance of this. And they said, okay, that’s, that’s amazing. We’re going to come to your, your, your, whatever hotel you’re staying at.

Akmal Farah: And then they, you know, obviously came and they hugged me and you know, they gave me a little bit of spending money to go out and celebrate. You have one enjoy. Nice. And so, you know, my parents never really understood what I was doing. So all this time I was training like four or five hours a day to them.

Akmal Farah: It was almost like a waste of time. Really? Yeah. They’re like, why are you doing this? Like, you should be more focused on your school and your education, things like that. Um, but they didn’t understand how much it was affecting my life in terms of like, keeping me out of trouble, you know, keeping me focused.

Akmal Farah: How did she meet setting, keeping me healthy. Um, all these, you know, being around people who are like goal oriented, they didn’t know that didn’t really grasp it. They was just like, okay, you’re going there. I don’t know what you’re doing because my mom had never come to a training session or my dad. Sure.

Akmal Farah: So when in November, when we were going to Hong Kong in 1997, when they came to the airport and they saw. All the officials, the team manager and the head of team and the physiotherapist and the doctor and the other team. And they’re in their suits and the people and their, um, you know, uh, tracksuits, like team kind of the tracksuits.

Akmal Farah: Like that’s when it hit my mom, like my mom started crying at the airport, like, oh my gosh, like, this is something actually a big deal. Yeah. This is not a normal thing. Yeah. And then, then she was like, incredibly proud of me for what I had accomplished. But at that, until at that moment, she was like, okay, when is it done?

Akmal Farah: Yeah. Coming

Muhammad Kermalli: up to dinner now

Akmal Farah: it’s getting cold. It was like, it wasn’t, it wasn’t important for her. But after that moment, it kind of, it kind of dawned on her, like, this is something important for my son and for his development. Um, and you know, and same thing. Like my brothers always knew what I was doing was important.

Akmal Farah: But was

Muhammad Kermalli: that your mom at the wedding when you had brought up. Well, that was your mom, right? At the event that we had, we were all there together. And then you and Megan came in and then you brought this lady, that’s your mom

Akmal Farah: uh, so my mom obviously comes through a few more events than, than before, and I try to

Muhammad Kermalli: spend a lot more time with her.

Muhammad Kermalli: Yeah, of course. I’m just trying to put a face to a, a person. But, um, so, uh, so that, and then you’re

Akmal Farah: off to, yeah, I’m off to Hong Kong and, uh, my first matches, uh, and I, again, we, it was, it was the most beautiful trip. I was honestly on cloud nine, because again, no expectations. Right. We just expect a little, but you get so much more.

Akmal Farah: And so I’m going to a world championships now I’m fighting against other national champions from around the world. Yeah. There’s at least like 200 countries there. Um, and so we go there and I’m feeling so good. I feel amazing. Wow, man, I got a tracksuit I’m tearing up I’m teammates against other, like, you know, other teammates with other, other Canadians who are like, you know, past champions where I idolized and we’re teammates now we’re looking eye to eye and some of them are like, kind of like taking me under their wings and giving me feedback.

Akmal Farah: Like, Hey, watch that guy over there. He’s really good. Yeah. Hey, you know, you’re not on your side, they’re on my side. They’re trying to help me. And like being like a big brother. Yeah. And I felt so loved. And so, um, so, you know, so cared for, and it was a really incredible atmosphere to be a part of. Yeah. And so, um, you know, during training sessions, again, we’re, we’re not, we’re not training with just regular people, other national champions, and they’re going hard at it.

Akmal Farah: And I’m, you know, I’m, I’m focused too. I’m a national champion, so I got to own my own. So I’m like, you know, we’re working on it and it’s, it’s fantastic. We’re, we’re all developing. We go to a university in Korea to train for a week before we had to Hong Kong.

Moez Bawania: And so like what an experience, what an

Akmal Farah: experience, you know, here, uh, guys that I had watched on TV, like we watched tapes.

Akmal Farah: World championships and they’re trading at this university and I’m, and I’m sparring, and I’m like, I had seen you on TV and now we’re facing, it’s the most incredible feeling. And so, um, I just feel like my, my I’m learning so much, I’m experiencing so much. My it’s just incredible. And so we finally go to Hong Kong and my first matches against Kazakhstan.

Akmal Farah: Okay. Uh, again, bigger ring way, bigger arena, way bigger crowd, the aura, the aura, the atmosphere, the chance, the chance. Incredible. So, you know, it’s another level. It’s not just like, oh, N T a R a was like, you know, was like Chinese Taipei. Like it just more intense, the Mexican team, everybody incredible atmosphere.

Akmal Farah: And so I fighting, I’m fighting against, um, uh, Kazakhstan close match and I went okay. Again, no expectations. Uh, my second matches against Peru. Um, uh, I’m I feel good because I won my first match and I kind of go a bit harder. I beat Peru for nothing. Yeah. It was incredible

Muhammad Kermalli: train. Now, like you are like a

Akmal Farah: machine, I’m a machine I’m ready for this.

Akmal Farah: Like, after I won nationals, I had trained even harder too, because I knew like world championships was a way bigger animal to deal with rather than just natural. You weren’t

Muhammad Kermalli: going to wait to lose to figure this out. No, not at all. We’re just

Akmal Farah: going to go. I’m going to go all out. And obviously, even my, my coach, because I was part of the national team had set up, uh, other, you know, other countries that we had gone to Cuba to train with their national teams.

Akmal Farah: So we had prepared a little bit better, but an interesting story. Know another thing is like, you know, when I won nationals, I was still in high school. So I came back to high school and obviously I told my teachers that I’m now a national champion. So my gym teacher at the time asked me, he’s like, so how do you mentally prepare for these things?

Akmal Farah: And I was kind of like, huh, what are you talking about mentally? What? And he’s like, like, what’s your mental strategies going into the whole of this time? I was like 18. Oh my gosh, she’s still in high school. I’m still in high school, you know, and OAC the great 13. And so, um, any, and he goes, um, so do you do like visualization?

Akmal Farah: And I’m like, what’s that? Wow. And so he’s like, um, he’s like, come with me. So he gave me a book and he’s like read this. And it was called mental toughness for athletes mentally. And it was the first, uh, like a psychology book that I had read at the time. Uh, and then it kind of opened my eyes up to like all these different techniques to prepare herself

Muhammad Kermalli: for physical

Akmal Farah: training.

Akmal Farah: There’s a huge part of it has mental training. And so I, if I remember correctly at that point, the book said like 80%, 80% of the game is mental and only 20% is physical. But before that moment

Muhammad Kermalli: before it was like a

Akmal Farah: hundred percent think it’s a hundred percent physical. You got to go, go, go. Wow. But when you, when I went to world championships, I learned that.

Akmal Farah: Everybody’s good level at that level. Everybody’s good. Everybody’s fast. Everybody’s strong. Everybody’s got amazing cardio, but what sets people apart is their, is their mindset. Yeah. How you prepare for it. Um, you know, it, it, it makes a significant difference. Um, so, you know, I, I felt like I was a bit more ready for it.

Akmal Farah: Yeah. I had prepared better. I was talking to myself. I was like, you know, I could do this, you know, during moments where I wasn’t, you know, where I was challenged, I wasn’t easily giving up, like, you know, getting back up and, you know, talking to myself, knowing, resetting, visualizing, getting it ready and executing that that’s how it was working in the games.

Akmal Farah: And then, um, I beat Ru Peru. I beat proved for nothing. Wow. I’m

Muhammad Kermalli: finding that it’s not a small win

Akmal Farah: for nothing. That’s rare. It’s rare, but it’s also, you know, people are watching the matches, so I’m fighting here and we’re going to fight the winner of this match here. So I fight Kazakhstan and somebody is watching Peru for me and saying like, Hey, watch out for Peru.

Akmal Farah: Like he did pretty good. Obviously he won his match. So I’m kind of like unsure, but then I beat Peru. Wow. Yeah. Pretty, you know, pretty confident in the, yeah. And now my next matches against Denmark. Okay. And so the Danish guy is pretty good. I think he had once a metals at the European championships. Okay.

Akmal Farah: And so, you know, I, I find, you know, this going in, I know there’s going in. Um, some people had told me, you know, like you watch out, they kind of like give you a heads up before you go in you’re scouting, use their scouting. And so, you know, I’m, I, you know, back and forth, back and forth, I ended up being, um, Denmark and my next matches against Mexico.

Akmal Farah: So

Muhammad Kermalli: now you’re getting ready

Akmal Farah: for like metals. Now it’s like quarter, now this is quarter finals. So if I win this, if I win, if I beat Mexico, I go to the semifinals. And so I’m going against Mexico

Muhammad Kermalli: and they have a great fan. They got a

Akmal Farah: fan base, incredible TaeKwonDo program really. Um, and just, you know, um, really good match, a lot of spirit.

Akmal Farah: And so he came at me pretty hard and, uh, I lost that match. Uh, but I learned a lot from it and it, it made me realize that, you know what, I’m not just the national champion, but I think I belong at the international arena. I think I can do this. So my goal now is no longer just to be a, you know, a provincial or national champion.

Akmal Farah: Now it’s to be at the level at the world championships with the top, uh, with the top people. And so I came out of that, um, world championships ranked top eight, and it was a huge confidence boost for me. Um, and then, you know, like in the, in the world, in the world, the world championships. So it was, it was an incredible boost of confidence and obviously sport Canada recognized that too.

Akmal Farah: Uh, we, we were getting some funding from them, uh, like around, uh, before we went to world championships around like $900 a month for your expenses as an athlete. And they upped that to like 1200 bucks. So as an 18, 19 year old getting 1200 bucks per month, it was a lot of money and now I’m going to university and that’s paid for because that’s the carding money.

Akmal Farah: Wow. So it was a huge, huge success story. So again, like just looking back at all the, you know, it, it gives you time to reflect like where I come from, where I’m going and you know, where I’ve been, it’s like a huge confidence boost. Like I’m not just a normal average guy anymore, you know, I am, I feel like I’m above average that I could, uh, you know, uh, but that’s where you started.

Akmal Farah: Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: Average, average, even like less than average, actually, because you’re walking into the immigrant re like, you know, person coming in here with nothing.

Akmal Farah: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I think, uh, you know, that’s the reality of it. The reality of it is that, you know, you’re, you’re less than average. You gotta to work your way hard.

Akmal Farah: You got to prove yourself. No one is going to have anything to you. You got to go out, you got to go out there and get it yourself. That’s also the beautiful thing about tech Mondo is that, you know, no one is going to hand you your, your gold medal, you got to go out there and fight for it. And I think that’s kind of like the lesson that’s been present to me my whole entire life.

Akmal Farah: That’s the goal. That’s the gold medal. You got to fight for it. And, uh, and the other thing, the other lesson that I learned that was very valuable is like, when you fight and you give it all you have, and you leave it on the mat, you have no regrets. Like, you don’t feel as bad about your loss versus like, if I could have done that, right.

Akmal Farah: Like my fear held me back. So I didn’t try my technique, but if you have a goal and you try it and you execute it and you leave it on the mat, you just feel a sense of relief. Like I left it all daughter, I went all out. I did everything the

Muhammad Kermalli: way that flying sidekick, even though it wasn’t, it didn’t turn out, you know, you put out like everything.

Akmal Farah: Yeah, you did it. But at the same time, it’s like you stick to the plan. You know, that’s important to stick to the time because it’s important, you know, don’t go too far off the plan that you’ve devised for yourself. Stick to it. Maybe you can try it a little bit.

Muhammad Kermalli: How have a plan. Right. I love that. Like, you know, so you you’ve seen all of these different elements, like when you went in how to have a plan, how to have a better plan, how to stick to a plan, uh, even in spite of getting kicked in the face with a backache stick with the plan still.

Muhammad Kermalli: So they’re going to be some really painful moments as you stick to your plan, but you still. Um, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much for sharing

Akmal Farah: and to trust yourself. And you have to trust the environment that you have created to help you get to where you want to go. If you obviously trusting yourself as for first and foremost, but if you don’t trust the environment, that’s going to help you get there.

Akmal Farah: Then you’re not going to go in with a hundred percent mindset. Yeah. It’s like something is off, you know, your coach is telling you one thing, but you really want to do something else. Now there’s a conflict between you and your coach. It’s not between you and your opponent anymore. So you’re not a hundred percent focused.

Akmal Farah: So if you feel like you don’t trust your environment, then get out, go somewhere where you feel like you can’t. But the thing is like, no, man is an island. You can conquer the world by yourself. You need a strong team around you. So you get, you have to, you have to have a strong team that you trust to take you to places that you want to go.

Akmal Farah: Yeah.

Muhammad Kermalli: I think that’s an important, really important step is building your team right? Aware that, you know, if you want to go far, you, you got to go together with people. You can’t go alone. And that’s an important conscious decision to go make, seek like the right kind of people to be around and then trust them, you know, when the time comes.

Muhammad Kermalli: Right. So, wow. That’s an amazing journey, uh, of, of the TaeKwonDo. I there’s so many of these like moments that, um, you know, you might just talk about when you’re giving a speech to the, to the kids or to us when you’re doing training us, but knowing all of the detail behind it just like bring so much perspective to it.

Muhammad Kermalli: So I really, really appreciate it. Uh, I wish, uh, and I hope other students in our club get the opportunity to hear the same sort of detail, you know, um, because what we see you as right, is this okay, you’re a master FRA, so that’s it. So everything he says, it’s right. It’s perfect. And you do it so well. Um, you never miss a step, but, uh, to knowing about the missteps along the way and how many there are.

Muhammad Kermalli: And then you grew from it and then you continue to grow for it. Even like what you were telling me earlier, how you have now, you still continue to find another person who’s today, a senior competitor, but constantly working on like perfecting, you know, whether it’s this way or that way. And watching you as much as you’ve accomplished to still continue to work at getting better and to never stop training, like, like that, you know, you talk about training harder and then training even harder and then training even harder.

Muhammad Kermalli: And knowing that there are these other next levels that you can still put yourself to and that you never settle for, like, well, I did my best. So that’s it. You looked at it. I did my best. I’m going to do more. I think that’s fantastic.

Akmal Farah: I think I got lucky, um, being in the environment that I was in, you know, I, again, when my brother’s friend initially decided to take me to that club, it was an incredible club to be a part of, you know, a great environment.

Akmal Farah: Um, and I think, you know, because I had been held back for so long and being, let go to do all these things, I couldn’t accept failure. You know, I couldn’t accept to be like I lost and that’s it. And now I don’t want to do it again. It was like, no, I think I’m better. I think I can do it. Let’s try it again.

Akmal Farah: Even though I was hard on myself, I was like, I think I could do more until I proved to myself that I could do more. But I think, you know, that took, I would say at least three years for me to decide that I could do more. Because up until that 1997, I had won, I had lost, I had one, I had lost, I had lost, I had lost, I had one, but then nationals, 1997 was really a defining moment for me to be like, I have no idea if I can even win one match, but I’m going to try and then getting to the finals and being like having this almost like ex exploring onto the screen was like, you know, it was a huge moment for me, you know?

Akmal Farah: Um, I remember reading a psychology book. You know, whenever you’re having a doubt, a moment of sadness or a moment of depression, it’s like you think about your, your best day in your life. Um, and honestly, a lot of my time, a lot of the days that that’s the, that’s the moment that I remember winning 1997 nationals, obviously now as a family man, a lot more, there’s a lot more joy in life.

Akmal Farah: And when you think about your children, you know, and, and the joy that they bring into your life, but pre family time, you know, a lot of times when things weren’t going so well, and I was really hard down on myself, I would think of that moment. And it just, it just makes you brings a little smile to your face.

Akmal Farah: Yeah,

Muhammad Kermalli: well, um, you know, and it’s, it’s great cause that’s even still in your past, there’s still more to you. There’s the, the, the, the growth from the person who competes for himself, you know, who wins for himself and who’s had to prove it to himself. And how then your goal starts shifting to like, you know, the thought of, you know, running a club and now thinking of your winners, the clubs win or other people’s wins.

Muhammad Kermalli: Uh, and I think there’s a, there’s a great sort of next story to that and how that leads you to, you know, to where you are today. So I’d love to be able to take the next opportunity. We get to kind of look at how this leads to these other things. But I mean, the highlight I find out of this is that, um, you know, no matter how well prepared you think you are, sometimes you come to realize later that, oh my gosh, there’s this whole other level of preparedness.

Muhammad Kermalli: So there’s always still more available. And you talk about emptying yourself and how you find yourself discovering that there’s even more after you empty yourself, but you can’t get to that until you completely, you know, to everything you got. So, um,

Akmal Farah: It’s been a

Muhammad Kermalli: pleasure. Yeah. Um, awesome.