Wayne Joseph’s Blog

Running with the Big Dog

Former Waiakea X-C runner, Now the Black Swan of Taipei

Taiwan’s Black Swan

Former Waiakea cross country runner, from 1996 to 2000, Jaclynn Joseph, is now an international model in Asia and recently appeared in Taipei for Halloween dressed as the ‘Black Swan’ 

Ballet Dancers are athletes too 🙂

visit her site at: http://www.jaclynnjoseph.com/

Happy Halloween 2011

High School cross country runners can be anything they want to be.

Happy Halloweed to all! 

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October 31, 2011 Posted by | Events | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sexy Look for Mixed Martial Arts in Taiwan

Holly Itoga for Hawaii Kai in MMA Taiwan

Holly Itoga for Hawaii Kai in MMA Taiwan

Hsinchu, Taiwan

    During my travels to Taiwan I ran into a young woman from Oahu by the name of Holly Itoga.

    Itoga is a 1996 graduate of Kaiser High School has traveled quite a bit since her high school days.  “I was getting my MBA in Australia and everyone always talked about India and China so I wanted to study in both,” she said.

   While studying in India Itoga’s professor recommended that she apply for a scholarship to a Taiwanese University which brought her to Taipei.  “Getting a scholarship into the PhD program was a blessing and the opportunities have been amazing here,” she said.

   Itoga opportunities and good looks led her to become a “ring girl” for Mixed Martial Arts events in the small city of Hsinchu, where she has been a resident for the past four years.

   “I’m so excited about MMA in Taiwan and coming from Hawaii, I would love to see a bridge, companies working together, having fighters brought over both ways, especially giving local talent a chance to display their skills,” Itoga said.

    Itoga is now beginning self defense classes with one of the MMA coaches.  “I hope to make a living with MMA, that would be amazing, but MMA is still so new in Taiwan, in the meantime I have to finish this PhD thing,” she said.

Ring girl Holly Itoga

Ring girl Holly Itoga

July 7, 2009 Posted by | Mixed Martial Arts, Profiles | , , , , , | 2 Comments

MFA Growing in Taiwan

Michael Chandler teaching soccer in Taipei

Michael Chandler teaching soccer in Taipei

     From Taipei, Taiwan

     If you read last week’s column you would have learned that running as a sport in Taiwan is close to non-existent. In fact sports of any kind is very low key to the Taiwanese and most would prefer to watch competition on television rather that participate.

    But if Michael Chandler and his partners have any say, things will begin to change.

    Chandler, and two of his partners, founded Master Football Academy (MFA) in 2004 to help develop sports competition amongst the children of Taiwan.

   “There is a huge hole in grassroots sports development in Taiwan, which we aim to help close,” Chandler said.

    Chandler moved to Taipei in 1999 when the shipping company he works for transferred him from a post in Saudi Arabia.  “My core profession is shipping, namely freight forwarding.  In Taiwan we solely focus on transport solutions of commercial goods between Taiwan and Europe.  MFA is simply my passionate hobby,” he said.

    Now before anyone starts having visions of a Taiwanese version of Bret Favre or Jason Elam remember that “football” to the world outside the United States refers to what we Americans call “soccer.”

    “I’ve been playing a variety of sports since I can remember, imitating my heroes from watching TV,” Chandler said.  “I’ve always been involved in football through playing in the streets and at school.  I was, however, a more useful cricketer.”

   Chandler, along with many other transplants to the country, feels that Taiwan is far behind the rest of the world in sports education.

    “Taiwan is an amazing country, which has developed economically quicker than most other’s and therefore made concerted and successful efforts towards education.  However, at the expense of physical education,” he said.

    A recent report released by Taiwan’s Department of Health showed that one in every four junior high and high school students are considered overweight due to a lack of exercise and poor nutrition.

   “A lack of exercise, poor eating habits, TV, and computer games are also the culprits,” Chandler said in response to the report.

    “We know through experience that if children are not introduced to fun sports at a young age it becomes more difficult to introduce the older they become,” Chandler said.  “One other important factor here is the exposure to professional sport is very poor, so it is difficult for children to have heroes to aspire to.”

    MFA’s mission is to promote some of the early work in introducing Taiwanese children to the simple fundamentals of the game.

    “Some of the early work we concentrate on is to simply get the children up on their toes.  You wouldn’t believe how flat-footed many people are here, as a limited sports culture exists meaning they have not been appropriately taught,” Chandler said.

   Over the past few years there has been more focus towards sports outside of the school system.  Roller skating, tennis, baseball and soccer classes are on the rise, according to Chandler.

    But Chandler is quick to point out that the early introduction to new sports activities occur primarily in the elementary school years and fade as soon as the children move onto Junior High.

    “Our (MFA) focus over the next few years will be to try to keep the junior and senior high school student’s active in sports.  Our first initiative is to introduce a community league program where we can actively involve the parents to enable them to learn for themselves the benefits a life-long involvement in sports will provide,” Chandler said.

     If Chandler and his partners are successful in introducing a community league program it will be the first of its kind in Taiwan, and no easy task.

   For residents of Taiwan, baseball is the favorite spectator sport, but the professional league, with its four teams, has had its problems its short history.   The baseball league has been rocked with various scandals, mainly gambling, that today has diminished its attendance.

    In 2007 one of the co-founders of MFA, David Camhi, developed a recreational team of adult players called Taipei Football Club (TFC).

    After meeting with initial success Camhi and the TFC progressed in the development to create Taipei County Master Football Club (TC-MFC) which is an elite team that has now gained entry into Taiwan’s 2nd tier football league, with the hopes of making it into the top tier.

     Through the efforts of people like Chandler and Camhi the MFA (soccer) program from kindergarten through to Taiwan’s top level now has something to offer all players; from all abilities in the growing hope to have Taiwan takes its place in the world’s sporting community.

Chandler promoting soccer in Taiwan

Chandler promoting soccer in Taiwan

July 6, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness, Profiles | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Walking the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Park

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This was our final day in Taipei…

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…and what a why to spend it by visiting this fantastic park dedicated to the late Chiang Kai-shek.

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The park is complete with gardens, fish ponds and theater hall.

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The walk around the memorial and the entire park took us more than three hours…

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…and is a must see if you’re visiting Taiwan.

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Next up, Naha, Okinawa.

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July 1, 2009 Posted by | Editorial, Health and Fitness | , , | 1 Comment

Running/Walking Through Taipei

From Danshui, Taiwan     My first visit to Taiwan and what a surprise to discover that something that I love to do is almost impossible to do here in the city – RUN.

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I’ve run through the streets and smoggy pollution of Beijing, down the main streets of Lisbon and through the alley ways of Porto, but there is no place safe to run in the city of Taipei.  Well, at least I haven’t discovered one yet.

Unless you’re suicidal I’d suggest you never run through the streets in Taipei or you’ll be placing your life at risk.      The sidewalks are crowded, there are nonexistent shoulders and you’ll be dodging cars, bikes and scooters as well as pedestrians giving you nasty looks or dogs trying to run you down.

Like many other urban areas in Asia the air quality is poor, but Taipei does have a lot of charm and some interesting places to see.    Fortunately our hotel is the Grandee Taipei located in the Shihlin District and right outside is the famous Shihlin Night Market, the largest of its kind in Taiwan.  Walking the market place from one end to the other takes hours and is well worth the adventure as everything and almost anything is for sale.

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A short 40 minute bus ride away is Yangmingshan National Park which is the perfect venue for someone looking to log in a few miles of exercise without worrying about being run over by a car or bitten by one of the hundreds of loose dogs in the city.    We took the bus right outside of our hotel for a visit to Yangmingshan with a roundtrip cost of 30 NTD, or less than one US dollar.

The bus ride is gorgeous, beautiful views and winding roads through the forests.  There is no fee to get into the park which is opened all day, each and every day.  Be sure to catch the return trip bus by 6:30 pm as this is the last one that leaves the park for the day.

If you love trail running, Yangmingshan, is the perfect venue.  There are many well marked trails that wind throughout the park.  Just don’t be too surprised if you see a snake or two and take a look at the many varieties of bugs; just don’t stray too far from the trails.     The park is also noted for their red bellied squirrels and there are wild monkeys throughout the forest.

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Few people would consider Taiwan a place for runners.   Most portions of the island are not runner-friendly and the people are not used to seeing strangers jogging in the heat of summer.     No need to play Russian roulette with buses so for Randee and the Big Dog its exercise by walking through the Night Market in the evening and heading to the park early in the morning for a 60 to 90 minute jog before discovering the many sites and flavors of Taiwan.     Besides you never know who you might run into while traveling abroad.

We ran into Michelle Camero while on our adventure through the night market.  Camero has been living in Taiwan since 2005 where she is a full-time English teacher.     Originally from San Antonio, Texas, and a huge Spurs fan, Camero came to Taiwan after graduating from Chico State in California where she majored in Linguistics.    I don’t know how I bump into these runners, but Camero is a former high school cross-country runner who ran just to stay in shape.     “I have no hand-eye coordination, due to my genetics,” she said with a grin.  “I joined cross-country because I always liked to run and I was fast.”

At age eleven Camero was diagnosed with scoliosis, curvature of the spine, and it was so bad that she had to have surgery.  “Without the surgery my ribs, in time, would be pushed against one another and they would collapse,” Camero said.    After her surgery she was laid up for six months and was tutored from home.  “My inactivity caused me to gain a lot of weight and I stopped growing due to the two metal rods that had been fused to my spine,” she said.

It was during her sophomore year in high school that she began to exercise again.  “I began by following a regimen that I found in a teen magazine.  Once school started back, I would come home and exercise everyday and wouldn’t allow myself to do anything before hand,” she said.   Camero began reading fitness magazines and educating herself.  “I also started to buy videos to help keep me in shape and I started lifting weights instead of calisthenics,” she said.

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In college Camero signed up for cardio and weight lifting classes and eventually switched her majors to exercise physiology and nutrition.  “I switched back to English because I wasn’t motivated to tackle the science classes that were required to get the exercise physiology and nutrition degrees,” she said.     Camero is just one of the many friendly and polite people that we have met while walking through the city.

And all is not lost for the future of running in Taiwan as President Ma Ying-jeou, a Harvard law graduate, is an avid jogger that also loves swimming and cycling.    In a press release recently Ma supported the opening of swimming pools at all Junior High Schools throughout his country so that young people can get the much needed exercise required for a healthy body.

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Taiwan, the traffic is nuts, but if you take a deep breath and open yourself to its people you can discover how charming the locals can be.  English is clearly a second language and directions can get muddled, but it is all worth the patient effort.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | Health and Fitness | , , , , , , | 4 Comments