Kogen Dojo Student Earns World Championship Title


For some, the idea of 14-year-old girls fighting conjures up high school memories better left forgotten. But for Fatimah Jasim, fists up and ready to strike are mental and physical challenges she loves to attack.

The lanky, soft-spoken Arnold resident fought her way to a world championship title last month at the World Kickboxing and Karate Union Worlds 2022 competition in Cardiff, Wales.

Jasim won the title for kickboxing in the 14– to 15-year-old female 114.5- to 121-pound weight class.

The 5-foot-8-inch teenager admits people often comment that she appears too shy to be a combat-sport athlete. They shouldn’t be fooled.

“I get aggressive when I step in the ring,” Jasim said. “I always want to win because if you’re not winning, you’re getting beaten.”

Jasim began training at Kogen Dojo in Severna Park almost four years ago. Since then, she has accumulated an impressive record in Muay Thai, which is a combat sport like kickboxing. She has also competed in an amateur fight, sparring scrimmages and at the World Kickboxing Association’s U.S. national championships. It was at the latter event where she earned a silver medal last year and a bronze medal this year. How well a fighter does at the national championships determines if they are selected to attend the world championships the following year.

Her age and weight group didn’t compete until the end of the week in Wales, a fact that Jasim was thankful for.

“I really like going to watch other matches because I can learn different moves and styles from other fighters,” Jasim said. “There is always more to learn.”

Jasim feels her best move is a clinch where she holds her gloves high to protect her face and throws a few swift punches before quickly lifting a knee to drive it into the opponent’s chest or mid-section.

Kickboxing isn’t just for show. It’s all-out combat with the goal of knocking down the opponent. At her level, competitors wear head gear to cover their head and ears, thin shin guards and gloves. Three judges watch each match before ruling a decision. Jasim said that she’s received numerous bruises, but no broken bones yet.

“Fatimah is a very hard worker,” said Matt Van Valkenburgh, Jasim’s trainer and owner of Kogen Dojo. “Prior to [World Kickboxing Association] worlds, she was training seven days a week by running, jumping rope, shadow boxing, bag work, pad work, sparring, clinching, and strength and conditioning.”

Whether or not a combat-sport student ever competes in a ring, Jasim believes the discipline is excellent for self-defense preparation, and she invites students, especially girls, to try the sport.

Van Valkenburgh said Muay Thai and kickboxing are tough sports that also develop physical fitness, mental toughness and confidence.

“On top of that, Muay Thai provides opportunities to travel outside of Maryland to compete,” Van Valkenburgh said. “Not everyone chooses to compete, but the benefits are the same for everyone who trains.”

Perhaps even more impressive than her fighting is Jasim’s ability to connect with the younger athletes whom she mentors and helps train at Kogen Dojo. With Jasim’s gold medal in hand, youngsters are drawn to her and her soft demeanor out of the ring, and precision strikes and work ethic inside the ropes.

“Fatimah helps with our kids’ classes,” Van Valkenburgh said. “The kids see her compete and get excited about the possibilities. The medals and trophies are good motivation for them.”

The newly crowned world champion has two younger siblings who hope to follow in their sister’s footsteps. Her younger brother, Mahdi, was this year’s U.S. national champion for his age group and will attend his first world championships next year in Bali, Indonesia. She also has a 7-year-old sister who is learning to fight.

Jasim is enrolled in the BioMedical Allied Health Magnet program at Glen Burnie High School and hopes to be a medical doctor. She praised her coaches, sponsors and supporters who helped her get to the world championships, along with those who donated funds to cover her recent travel expenses.


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