In these days of yoga, Tai chi, Rhythmics and the like, the age-old martial art of karate literally sits on the back burner. Oriental Karate school held an 'open-house' over the weekend on the back of the recently concluded grading examinations.

By George Ramsey (Contributor)

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Published: Sun 12 Mar 2006, 12:53 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:45 PM

The aim was to create an awareness of the martial art and a free coaching session was held for the parents and well-wishers of the students. In this age of hostility towards the Press, self-defence should serve us all well.

City Times was on hand and spoke with the various senseis' at the Oriental Karate and Kobudo club that has trained more than 9000 students in the Capital since its inception in 1987. The instructors here have trained in India, Malaysia, Germany, Switzerland, Bangkok and Scotland.

Ali Mohammed Renshi, Chief Examiner and Technical Director (who holds a 6th degree black belt in Karate & a 5th degree black belt in Kobudo) was critical about the role of the mass media in portraying karate as an art that makes one a 'fighter' and clarified a few points.

"Karate is a martial art that originated in Okinawa" he informs us. It has been modified by different martial art legends and up until these modifications, it was just a group of techniques that permitted self-defence sans weapons. Though there were some Chinese influences, Japanese teachers developed the art and introduced it to the world.

The Word "karate" is derived from 'Kara' (meaning empty) and 'Te' (hand).

Still others interpret the meaning of 'Kara' to be that of always striving to be inwardly humble and outwardly gentle (in turn meaning a lack of egoism and acting gently and moderately).

The one who studies karate purges himself of selfish and evil thoughts and one can only understand the philosophy of karate with a clear mind and conscience. Karate provides the means in the search for self-excellence and to conquer and surmount one's weaknesses and become a better human being.

A student of karate controls one's impulses and overcomes provocation and goes to great lengths to shun violence. "It is a concealed knowledge never to be used simply because one has the power to do so" adds Ali Mohd. Renshi.

Moreover, Karate training provides regular exercise (which is a boon to children cooped up in high rises and growing up on a staple diet of television and junk food). It has helped channel the energy of hyperactive children in a constructive manner while raising the energy levels of the more lethargic ones.

Along with the more obvious physical rewards, discipline, self-respect, respect for others, improved concentration skills, self-accountability and confidence are natural by-products of karate training.

"Children are treated on equal footing with adults at Oriental and we start at 5 years of age" adds sensei Fayad. Unlike most sports, Karate centres on the cultivation of an individual and in essence, the focus of competition is primarily 'within' a person and not against others.

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