The Martial Arts are not only well known, but they are also practiced all over the world today by different kinds of people. With its various forms such as Taekwondo, Judo, Jiu-jitsu, and Karate, it serves not just as a sport, but also as a form of self-defense and a means to obtain physical fitness.
For Filipino Taekwondo champion Monsour del Rosario, however, his battlegrounds were not just limited to the mats. He ventured into new horizons, particularly those set on the big screen. Winning a Gold medal was not del Rosario’s primary reason for entering the sport. A victim of school bullies during his childhood, he decided to venture into Martial Arts when he was just nine-years-old under mentor Joe Lopez-Vito. He was also inspired by Chinese Kung Fu films, especially those starring Martial Arts icon Bruce Lee.
After some years abroad, he went back to the Philippines for his high school education and transferred to the sport of Taekwondo in 1977 under Master Hong Sung-Chon. It was under Master Hong that del Rosario achieved a Korean 6th Dan Taekwondo black belt.
Del Rosario is not just an expert in the Martial Arts, but he also has the heart of an Archer. He spent his college years in De La Salle University-Manila and finished with a Communication Arts in Applied Humanities degree. He eventually took his Lasallian roots to bigger and brighter opportunities both in the local and international Taekwondo scene. The Bacolod-raised martial artist became a member of the Philippine National Taekwondo Team in 1982 at the age of 17. Since then, he competed in different international competitions such as the World and Asian Taekwondo Championships and World Games.
Earning a Bronze Medal during the 10th Asian Games in Seoul, South Korea, he later won a Gold medal in the 1987 Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) held in Jakarta, Indonesia. A year later, he joined the 1988 Seoul Olympics in South Korea where he advanced up until the quarterfinal round. Del Rosario was again successful in bringing home another Gold medal during the 1989 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In his two SEA Games appearances, del Rosario took the first rank in his category.
During his entire stay in the Philippine team, del Rosario was number one in the Philippines in the Lightweight Division and was crowned as an eight-time National Lightweight Champion. He was a member of the Philippine team up until 1989 and he served as the Team Captain over his last four years. However, his Taekwondo journey did not stop there. He coached the national team for several years and also became an instructor in his very own alma mater, DLSU.
In 1986, del Rosario tried his luck in a different setting while utilizing his knowledge in the Martial Arts. He starred in various Filipino action films such as Joe Pring 2: Kidlat ng Maynila in 1990 with veteran actor Philip Salvador and Medal of Valor: Habang Nasasaktan Lalong Tumatapang in 1991 with Lito Lapid. Among his other notable appearances are in the films Bangis in 1995, Buhawi Jack in 1998, and Pintado in 2000. He also made it into films abroad such as Demonstone, When Eagles Strike, and The Hunt for Eagle One. The athlete-actor was also cast in different television dramas in the ABS-CBN and GMA networks.
The Taekwondo star did not forget to give back though amidst all of his success both in the fields of athletics and film. He established a Taekwondo school in 2000 with fellow Jin Stephen Fernandez named the “Olympians Taekwondo Training Center” located in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City. Del Rosario also initiated the Monsour Boracay Taekwondo Challenge in 2004, a sporting event for both children and adults.
In the February 2005 issue of Flash Magazine by the Philippine Taekwondo Association, Del Rosario quotes, “For one thing, I feel very honored to see many TBB and TBS members, and members of the national team who took up the sport because of me. If only for that, then I must say that I have accomplished something.”
Del Rosario is also known as the Ambassador of Philippine Taekwondo by the World Taekwondo Federation and a Hall of Famer in the Taekwondo Hall of Fame in Kukkiwon, Seoul, South Korea.
For someone who picked up the sport just to defend himself against bullies, del Rosario went beyond that and saw that Taekwondo can go beyond the mats and gyms that house the craft. He was catapulted into success because of it and now he is sharing his success with the next generation, understanding that he too was once a kid who only wanted to prove himself, amongst all the obstacles, that he can be the best man possible.
Photo from Monsour del Rosario’s Taekwondo site.