Nicoya, Culture, Sports

Martial Arts in Nicoya: Good for the Mind… and for Self-Defense

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When talking about participating in sports in Nicoya, the options are usually the classics: soccer, swimming, basketball or going to the gym. But the Eastern influence of martial arts is going strong in the world, and Nicoya has not escaped it. In addition to being an excellent physical routine, martial arts also help with self-defense, losing weight and relieving stress anxiety.

The Voice of Guanacaste visited two gyms where these combat sports are taught to learn firsthand about what they involve and how they are done.


Taekwondo. Photo by Ariana Crespo


Since 2000, taekwondo is the only martial art listed as an Olympic sport. There are different grades represented by belt colors, which indicate the progress and experience of each fighter. For example, the white belt represents the basic level, whereas to be a black belt, about six years of training are required.

In the BEK-HO (White Tiger) Taekwondo Academy, located in downtown Nicoya, about 35 students are currently training. Randall Blanco, owner and instructor for more than 22 years, emphasized the discipline that the sport develops in those who practice it.

“In taekwondo, the strength comes out of the abdomen. We are releasing energy. The fighting is athletic,” he said.

In the academy, Blanco trains several young people, including 15 fighters who participated in the national games competitions in 2015 Two of these are currently members of the National Taekwondo Team.

If your desire is to learn it as self-defense, Blanco affirmed that when faced with a confrontation or provocation, the ideal is to manage not to fight but to have self-control.

“Taekwondo teaches people to have character, confidence, respect and serenity, to learn to defend themselves, to get out of the situation,” he commented.

Beyond Taekwondo

If you want to go one step further in your physical training, Guerrero School, located in  Nicoya’s Los Angeles neighborhood, teaches mixed martial arts classes, such as Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, and Jiu-jitsu, a Japanese martial art.


Jiu-jitsu, photo by Ariana Crespo


“Mixed martial arts bring out the best of traditional martial arts. They bring out the techniques that really work. It is a sport and a means of self-defense. They help people gain confidence, learn to defend themselves and improve physical condition,” explained Joshua Tablone, mixed martial arts instructor.

Tablone explained that Muay Thai boxing offers fighters more freedom than traditional boxing due to the combination of hits with hands, feet, elbows and holds.

In  Tablone’s gym, the goal is to get in shape and become disciplined, although  Tablone also recognizes that it is a violent sport.

“Not everyone has to put on gloves. Here, we all challenge each other. I am another training partner. It is true that we are fighting violence with violence, but it also forms discipline to work hard in life,” Tablone said.

To reduce the adrenaline from so much hitting and fast turns, Tablone also teaches yoga.


Address: 100 meters south and 50 meters west of La Anexión Hospital  

Monthly Rate: 25,000 colones ($47.60) Registration: 10,000 colones ($19), paid once a year

Hours: Monday to Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Guerrero School

Address: 50 meters north of Jocotes Plaza in the Los Angeles neighborhood in Nicoya

Rate: ¢2000 ($3.80) per class

Hours: From 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.