FOR more than half their lives, former Philippine team flag-bearer Japoy Lizardo and wife, world champion Janice Lagman, lived under the discipline of taekwondo.
They even fell in love through the sport.
So it’s no longer a surprise they're eager to pass on the tradition to their own children, Jace and Jevi.
“Since we were as young as 11 and 13, nagta-taekwondo na talaga kami, joining the national team. Doon kasi, one family talaga, kaya magkakakilala rin kayo. So naging friends kami, matagal na friendship tapos nung pa-end na ang career namin pareho, dun kami nagkaroon ng spark,” Japoy told SPIN Life.
Raised together in the martial arts, the couple are now applying the lifelong lessons they've picked up from taekwondo to raising their own family.
“Kami na ang coaches ngayon, at itong family ang team namin,” he said.
Japoy and Janice now nurture their two sons, three-year-old Jace and seven-month-old Jevi.
“New parents pa lang kami, kaya nangangapa pa lang din. Bago pa sa amin lahat," said Japoy. "Pero marami kaming natutunang disiplina sa sport noon na nagagamit namin ngayon.”
The sport is still very much a part of their lives. Both of them serve as coaches in different schools, and, of course, the national team. Aside from that, they also opened their own taekwondo clinic.
When COVID-19 shut down the country, Japoy and Janice worried about how they were going to make a living, with training and practices put on hiatus during the lockdown.
“Hindi talaga namin maiwasan mag-worry kasi meron kaming dalawang anak na kailangan i-support. Pero supportive naman ang Philippine Taekwondo Association kaya napagpatuloy namin ang clinic. So may mga online classes kaming kino-conduct everyday,” he said.
They also recently started a family vlog.
Seeing their parents do their thing, taekwondo has also sparked some interest in their first-born Jevi.
It was an encouraging sign that their legacies as the country's most recognized taekwondo athletes might be carried on by their children.
“Pag nagka-class kami, minsan sumasabay-sabay siya. Pati sa workouts ko, tapos pag nakakapanood ng video, ginagaya-gaya niya,” he said. “Personally, gusto din talaga namin ni Janice na mag-taekwondo sila kasi alam namin yung values na matututunan sa sport.”
Aside from the conduct and character instilled by the sport, they also want their children to experience the same opportunities taekwondo gave them.
“Iba ‘yung feeling na i-represent ang country mo. [It's the] best experience. Bukod pa rito, taekwondo ‘yung naging daan para makapag-travel kami during competitions. Nung bata kasi ako, wala naman kaming pera pang-travel, at dahil dito naabot ko ‘yung dream na yon,” he shared.
He added: “Sa sport din naming na-discover yung strength and weakness ng isa’t isa, kaya ngayon mas alam na namin kung paano humarap sa problems both as a couple and as a family.”
But for now, since both of their sons are still young, Japoy and Janice choose to nourish their little family the champion’s way.
“We just continue to impart with the kids the values we acquired from the sport. Since nagko-coach kami way before having our own family, we apply what we learned from teaching: that communication, comfort among ourselves, and respect to each other are very important factors.”
It's the biggest takeaway they got from the sport.