The first classes at the Traditional TaeKwon-Do Center of Bradenton when it began in 2014 only had six students. Those six students went to one tournament that year and claimed 19 trophies.
Now, less than two years in, Traditional has become one of the fastest growing TaeKwon-Do schools in Florida. During their most recent tournament back on July 25 in Ocala, Traditional's 40 or so students won 56 trophies for first- second- or third-place finishes.
"Everybody went to that from all over Florida," Jalil said. "Tampa, Brandon. Even South Carolina and Hawaii schools."
The school isn't the first of its kind in Manatee County, but Jalil wanted to take a very traditional approach. He didn't want it to be one of those schools to just hand out belts. His students needed to be committed to training before they can even take belt tests.
"Our school is very, very traditional. I can't explain it," Jalil said. "It's not commercialized. The students go through intense training before they earn their belts. I'm very old school."
Aside from his son, who is now a red belt 11 and has been practicing since he was 3, the highest-level students at Traditional of Bradenton are advanced green belts. He has three students at that rank and all three are in contention for the Florida Cup.
The Florida Cup is awarded each year to the high scorer from the six affiliated Traditional TaeKwon-Do schools from around the state. Three tournaments are held every year featuring students from the six schools, which are all affiliated with the original Traditional TaeKwon-Do Center of Tampa, and the top performer is awarded the Cup. Last year, that champion came from Bradenton.
Dominik Jalil, Chris' son, was Traditional of Bradenton's first champi
on and is in contention for another Florida Cup again this year.
"It's been very good success," Jalil said. "I want all these kids to be recognized. They've worked very hard for this."
Jalil is only one champion, though. In Ocala, Traditional of Bradenton had a 65-year-old champion and multiple 40-year-olds who take classes with their children. Students begin as young as 4.
Traditional's classes are entirely made up of beginners who progressed under Chris Jalil's tutelage. Most of the school's growth he attributes to word of mouth and the simple benefit of sharing a Florida State Road 64 shopping center with a Publix, but he's also seen a recent boom of hits on the Traditional website.
With an increased number of students, the number of trophies is also trending up.
After winning 19 at its first tournament, Traditional of Bradenton followed it up with 25- and 46-trophy performances before reaching 52 in July. On Oct. 3, the school will travel up to Tampa for its third and final tournament of the year.
And until then, Jalil will be there working with his students every weekday. His students aged 4-7 have half-hour classes three times a week. Once they turn 8, those classes extend to an hour. The oldest and most dedicated students will have two classes a day with sparring days and demonstration days thrown in.
"The kids are great," Jalil said. "They come here every day. I have students that I have to kick them out. They are here every single day."
David Wilson, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7057. Follow him on Twitter @DBWilson2.