Growing up in the province, I had no idea what Taekwondo was. I lived in a humble and small city, General Santos City, the southernmost part of the Philippines. In March of 1997, I was 12 years old then, a group of Taekwondo instructors came to our province to do a Taekwondo demonstration to promote and introduce the sport. I was awed by their performance! It was my first time to experience such a spectacular display of skill. I wanted to be like them. So when they opened up the Taekwondo gym in April, I enrolled immediately and was part of the first batch of white belts. I never missed a class. I trained every single day. I loved it!
Taekwondo paved the opening of an opportunity for me to get into one of the most prestigious universities in my country. In the year 2000, I tried out and got into the University of the Philippines Diliman through their varsity program. College life wasn’t smooth sailing. I had my ups and downs, even to the point of wanting to quit, which in fact, I did. I wanted to try something different. I want to do something else. I then started working. I studied full time and worked graveyard shifts as a gym instructor.
The turning point in my life came in a sunny afternoon in Manila, after a year away from the Taekwondo world. Sir Igor Mella (my coach now) saw me walking on the street. He offered to give me a ride to my destination and during the whole ride he was just full of words of encouragement: "You’re full of talent. You have what it takes. Don’t waste it, JP.” With his words of wisdom, I gave Taekwondo another shot. He invited me to try out for the National Poomsae team and that same year I became part of the first pool of players to go to Korea to learn the standardization of poomsae. I was also selected to be part of the team to represent the Philippines at the 2nd WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships.
It is because of poomsae that I fell in love with Taekwondo again.
The Philippines won its first medal at the World Poomsae Championships in 2008. I, together with my brother (Brian Alan Sabido) and another teammate (Anthony Matias), won bronze in the Team Male Under 30 event. It was a really unexpected yet glorious moment. But the victory didn’t last long; we lost the year after that. But at these times losing to me didn’t really matter. The only thing I really cared about was traveling around the world, having fun, and looking good - until I met Master Jeong.
Our Philippine Grand Master, Grand Master Hong Sung Chon, invited Master Jeong Tae Seong to be our poomsae coach in 2010. Training under Master Jeong was a cornerstone in my Taekwondo career. Never in my life had I experienced such rigid and excruciating training. I would deceive it like "hell on earth." After all the grueling training, I shared my first gold medal with Brian and Anthony at the 5th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships that same year.
Master Jeong continues to visit the Philippines every year.
Preparing for the 2013 World Poomsae Championships was the most challenging year for me. I moved up to the next category and it was my first time to compete in four events: individual authorized poomsae, individual freestyle poomsae, senior 2 men’s team authorized poomsae, and the mixed team freestyle poomsae. Being selected for the individual freestyle event was completely unexpected. I didn’t want it. After my 6th place finish in 2012 I thought freestyle wasn’t for me, but Master Jeong looked into my eyes and said, “I believe in you.” Hearing that from him, I got highly motivated and determined to win. I came home from the championships and shared my second gold medal with Ernesto Guzman and Glenn Lava in the 2nd senior men’s team. I was tied for second place in the individual men’s freestyle event and got a bronze medal in the mixed team freestyle event. It was the Philippines' best finish yet with three gold medals, two silver medals, and a bronze medal at the 8th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships in Bali, Indonesia.
In 2014, I was torn between retiring and continuing as a competitor.
The individual freestyle event was for me the most difficult, yet exciting. It was both a dream of my mother and I to win in the men’s individual freestyle category in the world championships and I knew that would be my greatest challenge and possibly my best finish. The first step was the 3rd Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championships on the 25th of May. I told myself, if I win in the individual freestyle event, it would be a sign from God to compete in the world championships one more time. If not, I will retire. He answered. I won. I was meant to compete in the world championships. My mission wasn’t over.
Preparing for the world championships, the team trained harder and wiser. We studied different approaches to improve our routine: We took gymnastics classes, which significantly helped me upgrade my acrobatic skills (crucial to the success of my routine), and we took kettlebell and conditioning classes.
We went to Mexico confident and ready!
The day came. The first day of the championships the senior 2 men’s team, composed of me, Ernesto, and Glenn won 1st place, making it our 2nd gold medal together as a team. It was a good start! But I knew I could not relax. The individual male freestyle event was scheduled on the last day.
Finally the day came. On the last day of the 9th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships, out of the eight finalists, I was second to perform. I poured my heart out. After waiting for the results of the last performer, my teammates and I shouted with joy when I was ranked number one. A dream come true! The Philippines finished with three gold medals, two silver medals, and three bronze medals, giving us a rank of 5th overall out of 58 countries that participated.
Until now, words cannot express my deep gratitude. All I could think of is how grateful I am for having remarkable supporters, especially my mother, my family, and my mentors, who never grew tired of pushing me forward to reach my dreams.
Name: Jean Pierre Sabido
2014: GOLD (Individual men’s freestyle) and SILVER (2nd Sr. men’s team):
3rd Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Tashkent, Uzbekistan May 25-28.
GOLD (Individual men’s freestyle) and GOLD (2nd Sr. men’s team):
9th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Aguascalientes, Mexico October 30,31- November 1,2
2013: GOLD (2nd Sr. men’s team) and SILVER (Individual men’s freestyle):
8th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Bali, Indonesia October 31- November 3
2012: GOLD (1st Sr. men’s team)
2nd Asian Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Hochiminh, Vietnam May 5
GOLD (2nd Sr. men’s team)
World Taekwondo Hanmadang
Seoul, Korea August
BRONZE (1st Sr. men’s team)
7th WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Tunja, Colombia December 6-9
2010: GOLD (1st Sr. men’s team)
5th WTF World Poomsae Taekwondo Championships
Tashkent, Uzbekistan October 8-10
GOLD (individual 1st senior) GOLD (1st Sr. men’s team)
6th KBS Korea Open International Taekwondo Championships
Gumi, Korea September 2-6
2009: SILVER (1st Sr. men’s team) and BRONZE (Individual Sr. 1)
9th ATF Taekwondo Championships
Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam June 5-7
BRONZE (mixed pair) and BRONZE (1st Sr. men’s team)
25th SEA GAMES
Vientiane, Laos December 9-18
2008: BRONZE (1st Sr. men’s team)
3rd WTF World Taekwondo Poomsae Championships
Ankara, Turkey December 16-18
All competition results are sanctioned by the World Taekwondo Federation and are recognized by the Philippine Government.
2011 Philippine Sportswriters Association Major Awardee
· For winning GOLD in the 5th World Championships in Uzbekistan
2013 Philippine Sportswriters Association Major Awardee
· For capturing the GOLD medal in the 8th World Championships in Bali, Indonesia
2014 Philippine Sportswriters Association Special Awardee
· For emerging as the most bemedalled jin for winning both in the in the 9th World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico and the 3rd Asian Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
2014 Most Valuable Player Award (Male)
· For capturing the 2 GOLD medals in the 9th World Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico.