From a young age, my parents taught me that being an instrument of change and having the desire to make a difference in someone’s life, without any gender and status disparity is what being human is about. Giving back to the community has been an integral part of my family’s DNA. From the time I was a child, I have accompanied my parents to rural villages for their volunteering activities with poor children.

My parents instilled in me that that the greatest gift we can give anyone is to share the knowledge we have. When I was 16, I got interested in Taekwondo, one of the most popular martial art forms in the world. I started lessons and began to seriously invest time into perfecting my craft. Within about 2 years, I was competing in state-level events. At a time when most girls around me were learning to cook or preparing to get married, I was focussed on training and participating in championships. I am really grateful to my parents for their support because they gave me full freedom to pursue my passion and never tried to dissuade me from this path because of my gender. Those years taught me that women can perform as well as men in martial arts by having grit, determination and a strong mindset.

My dream was to pass on my knowledge to more children and with the encouragement of my Masters, I completed senior upgrading black belt test level 4th DAN locally and 3rd DAN internationally. I also continued to attend several taekwondo seminars and courses including those in sports science. I took the exam in ISN (National Sports Institute) to qualify as a senior instructor, coach, and trainer in the taekwondo association.

Martial arts is more than just a sport. It is about discipline, gives you focus and confidence, and with practice help significantly with character development. I wanted to use my gift to help children in disadvantaged communities.

In 2010, I visited the Agathians Shelter in Petaling Jaya in Malaysia. The shelter had 42 young boys including babies, who call it home. These are kids who either do not have parents or their parents simply cannot afford to take care of them. The shelter is functional purely because of the generosity of donors and long-term sponsors. The boys there do not have the privilege to participate in any sports activities. They barely have enough to eat. The shelter management told me that a lack of discipline among the boys had been causing a lot of trouble. These kids came from difficult backgrounds, abandoned, orphaned, growing up in the streets, abused my parents.

I spent a few hours interacting with the kids that day and spoke to them about Taekwondo. Some of them showed genuine interest.

With support from RYTHM Foundation, I started teaching classes there every weekend. Soon I had 32 students aged 5 to 18. I taught them for five years, from 2010 to 2015 ad I am so proud of what the boys have been able to achieve. They brought back medals from various championships and tournaments, including the Malaysian School Championship, CK International Open, Ipoh Taekwondo Championship and POOMSE (pattern) Championship. It is so wonderful to see a troubled, wayward child develop confidence and character and grow into a better version of himself.

I also organised official taekwondo grading for all kids at the shelter every 3 months to upgrade their grade and belt in the presence of a Taekwondo Malaysia Examiner.

I’ve spent more than 100 hours every year since I started with the kids as an instructor, coach, advisor and sister to boost their confidence and discipline level.

Encouraged by the success with Agathian Shelter, from 2016 onwards, I started teaching around 20 kids at the Rita Welfare Home and in 2018 at Selangor Children Home in Klang.

Besides Taekwondo, I am also very much involved in the education of the kids. I managed to enrol a former shelter boy who is an orphan, in the Quest International University (QIU) last year to pursue the course for Foundation in Business. His good academic results won him a 50% scholarship for the programme and I am now supporting his daily expenses till he completes his course.”


K Mariama Krishnan is a Junior Accounts Executive with QI Group’s training and events subsidiary, The V. She plans to start teaching self-defence to young girls who are part of RYTHM Foundation’s Maharani programme. Her dream is to identify and train a potential champion among these girls.