Interview with Mr Luis Baguena Salvador

AETF reporter
Katarzyna Rozwadowska

Mr Luis Baguena Salvador is a 79-year old retired colonel of Safety Forces In Spain; Ph.D. of Economy, former lecturer at University of Madrid, founder of Martial Arts Spanish Federation and its first President, co-founder of Spanish Judo Federation and International Judo Federation President between 1991 and 1995, well-known sports activist in many sport organisations on the international level. Mr Baguena was elected A.E.T.F. President on the A.E.T.F. Congress held in Madrid, Spain, on 18th of November 1988 and he has been in that position until the 10th of April 1996.

On the 21st of October 2011, at the ITF Congress held in Bratislava during the European Open Cup, Mr Luis Baguena Salvador was nominated as an Honorary A.E.T.F. President as an expression of gratitude for his hard work, dedication and contribution to the organisational development of Taekwon-Do ITF in Europe in the past.

Below you will find a short interview which I had the great pleasure to conduct with Mr Baguena during the European Open Cup in Bratislava.

Foreground: Mr. Luis Baguena, AETF Honorary President.
Background, from the left: GM Willem Jacob Bos, ITF Secretary General, GM Pablo Trajtenberg, ITF Acting President, GM Javier Dacak, ITF South America President

How do you like the city of Bratislava, Sir?
This is a very nice place. People in Slovakia are very kind and friendly.
On the 21st of October 2010 the A.E.T.F. Congress nominated you as the Honorary President. What does it mean to you?
That means a lot for me. That is a great honour. I left my position in the sport about ten years ago and this nomination means that somebody remembered you after the years. Sport took so many years of my life playing and supporting. When you retire and you leave the position, nobody remembers you normally. When I received the telegram from the European President Master Łoboda saying ‘we want to propose you to be an Honorary President for the European Federation’ you can imagine how I liked it very, very much. Because they are going to receive nothing from me and only I have received a gift. Knowing they remembered me has made me very grateful.

From the left: Mr. Luis Baguena, AETF Honorary President, GM Pablo Trajtenberg, ITF Acting President, Master Tadeusz Loboda, AETF President

Could you tell us something about yourself, Sir?
I was in the military. I was a colonel of the Spanish Army. I’ve spent most of my time there, 45 years. Also, a lot of time I have been a teacher of self-defence in the military army school.

How did it happen that you got connected with sports, especially martial arts?
When I was young I was a cadet. I was a little good at gymnastics. In 1950 I was in a school where people said that judo was a very good sport for the army. The teacher took four or five of us to begin teaching judo too. So I began without knowing what it exactly was and after some time I liked it. After that I have been involved always in the Federation. In the beginning I was very excited about another Federation of Combat Arts, but after that I was the President of the Spanish Federation. I had to go step by step. First I was a player, after that I was a coach, a referee, a vice-president of little Federation, President of Region, President of Madrid Federation, and at the end the President of Spanish Federation. I had to go through absolutely all of the steps. At that time the first form of martial arts in Spain was judo, after some time came karate, after some time came Taekwon-Do and later aikido. That’s why I was involved in these kinds of martial arts.

Why did you choose to support Taekwon-Do ITF?
Because at the time when I was the President of Spanish Federation it was the time when Taekwon-Do was born in Spain. I was the President of Federation and I headed them. Truly they were people who liked sport and I liked how they do things and I had to support them, and I had to involve them from the beginning. I liked both Taekwon-Do – WTF and ITF – really, but with time what I have seen is the ITF with people who made Taekwon-Do ITF better with good proposals, they do it for love. Despite the fact that the government wanted me to support WTF (in Gen. Franco’s time), I did not comply. Even when they said that they (government) only recognized WTF, I still felt that my heart remained with ITF, so I have been supporting and working for both. Nowadays I like how they (ITF) have developed and that’s why I’m involved in Taekwon-Do.

In the past you have had very important positions as a President of Spanish Judo and the International Judo Federation, Vice-President of Ju-Jitsu International Federation. How do you think these organizations compare to A.E.T.F.? In which ways are they different?
Well, they are different mostly its the question of money. Because when you have a Federation that is recognized by the Olympic Committee and Olympic Games that means a lot of money. Because to be in an Olympic games every four years is worth some millions of dollars. So if you are an organization one million dollars is important. If an organization recognized by the Olympic Committee of your country, this means a lot of financial support provided by government, which obviously helps a lot and gives you much more freedom. In spite the fact that ITF its not receiving any founding from government, it has developed very well. It’s not a question of money. Here people do it from their heart. So my heart is also with the people who love it.

Which directions in general should the A.E.T.F. choose in the nearest future? With all your experience maybe you have some good advices for us?
No, I am very happy to see how they have managed assembly yesterday. They are all friends and I am not really surprised but I am very happy to see that they are doing things as a team. Truly, there are no politics. This is why the ITF has progressed so well over the years. What I see is all of them working in the same direction. They understand each other without words. I know all of them thirty years and they are magnificent people, very experienced and not political, who love sport. They have lead countries and good organizations. ITF has chosen very good leaders and that is important.

Is your active and intensive lifestyle difficult to harmonize with the interest of your family?
The sport is like a family, but my family suffer a little bit because you have to travel a lot. For me sport has been a hobby not a profession. At the beginning because you have to fight and you have to think and after because you have to go assemblies, commissions, dinners, you have to travel a lot so it takes much more outside the family and family suffer a little. Is your wife here? Yes, she is because they have nominated me as Honorary President. I think this is a great honour and my wife has liked to accompany me this time.

I expect while fulfilling your duty in international sport organisations you meet many well known representatives in the world of sport. Could you mention some sport’s VIPs you have met?
Being a member of IF Presidents Club you can imagine that I was often in contact practically with all of them, and personally I want to make sure that I keep good memories of them all.

Do you have any plans for the nearest future you would like to share with us?
Well, my plans for the future is just to support ITF as much as I can because they are good friends for me and I like to continue to be a friend of the ITF. That is what I appreciate.

What happened with your nose, Sir?
That happened when I was in a little town in Czech Republic. I was walking and reading the map how to get to the church, to the castle and there was a step I haven’t seen it, so I just felt down. I was lucky it was nothing else just my nose. It was bleeding a lot. It looked much worse than it was. Some nice people took me to the hospital. I had a little problem in there because nobody understood English or French and I couldn’t pay Euros or dollars only Czech crowns and there was no access to a Cash Machine. But the doctors were very nice and friendly and they helped me.

I hope this scab is not the only memento of your trip, Sir?
No, it’s not.

We congratulate Mr Baguena and wish him success in performing the new position and all the best in his professional and personal life.

Foreground Mr. Luis Baguena.
Background from the left: GM Willem Jacob Bos, ITF Secretary General, GM Pablo Trajtenberg, ITF Acting President, Master Juan Ferrando, ITF Vice-President, Mr. Emanuel Dopico, ITF lawyer