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Student Spotlight: Arsalan, taekwondo black belt and YouTuber

When it comes to students at EF Academy, their interests and passions are as diverse as the nationalities they represent. In our Student Spotlight series, we shine a light on some of our talented high schoolers and their achievements.

EF Academy Oxford student Arsalan, from Dominica, is a current IB Diploma student and Taekwondo black belt athlete. He recently started his own YouTube channel to share his training tips and experience.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

My nationality is Dominican but I am originally Persian. I decided to study abroad so I could increase my chances of going to the best universities and experience new cultures. My favorite IB Diploma subjects are Business Management, Math and Physics.

When did you start practicing taekwondo? Were you good at it straight away?

I started taekwondo training when I was five, in kindergarten, with the same coach that I have been working with for the past 12 years. I literally didn’t have any talent in taekwondo. At first, I remember I was the weakest kid in the class, I was so quiet and wasn’t successful for the first five or six years of my career. I lost most of my fights, but then I found a way of winning and how to control myself and my emotions.

What inspired you to start your own YouTube channel?

I wanted to make content for people who cannot access a coach. I have been doing strength and conditioning (S&C) training with my S&C coach for four years now and I have gained some experience in how to train to get the best results. It has been challenging so far and I haven’t gotten the results I want yet. I hope the lockdown finishes soon so I can go back to the gym, train with equipment and record pro videos. In lockdown I train every day with my body weight and elastic bands in my room and in the park. I am keeping myself ready so as soon as COVID-19 finishes, I can begin to compete again.

Has taekwondo taught you any lessons that have helped you in other aspects of your life?

Yes, it taught me lots of life lessons – such as how to deal with problems in life or school and how to control my emotions and anger in different situations. For example, I know how to deal with losing and have the will power to start over again and try more than before to achieve what I want, and learn from my losses so I don’t repeat the same mistakes. Taekwondo has given me lots of self confidence and discipline and taught me that you need to respect everyone, even your opponent. I encourage everyone to begin martial arts for mental health, or go to the gym and work on yourself and your body to gain self confidence and become the best version of yourself.

Are you involved in any other activities at EF Academy Oxford?

Yes, I do Math Olympiad, where we practice specific math questions, and boxing once a week for fun.

Do you have any words of wisdom for students about finding time to stay active?

Train at least three times a week – it won’t take up too much time if you can manage it. A healthy mind is in a healthy body, and I think this is more important now than before COVID. Nowadays, there are a lot of people who are dealing with depression and mental health problems. Exercising can make you a happier and more disciplined person. You don’t need to do anything special, you can just go for a run several times a week and lift some weights to make you happier.

What are your aspirations for the future?

Going to the best university for architecture and being the university world champion in taekwondo. After finishing my studies, I plan to put more focus on my sport to achieve all of the goals I want to achieve.


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