Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Karate The Dhaka Project

...learning values of self discipline, self control and respect for others through Taekwondo [ Korean karate ].

The writer is a Retired Senior Vice-President Customer Affairs & Service Audit, Richard Ng, visited Dhaka recently as a volunteer of The Dhaka Project. During His seventh visit to the Project, Richard taught martial arts to the kids.

Here is his story…

Attention! Bow ! At Ease !

With those commands, thirty Primary 3 students at The Dhaka Project in Gawair started their very first lesson in the art of “hand and foot” fighting --- Taekwondo.

Taekwondo is the Korean equivalent of Japanese karate. It is an official sport in the Olympic Games.

The kids in The Dhaka Project were excited when selected for the training sessions. 15 boys and 15 girls make up the class. They were in high spirits. They just could not wait to begin!

But, first things first.

Coach Richard tells the kids what they should and should not do with the self-defense skills learned; no picking fights with anyone under pain of expulsion from the class; no playful kicks and punches less someone gets injured; only when attacked and to self-defend or protect others, can Taekwondo skills be used.

Values of self-control, self-discipline and respect for others were stressed over and over again. Kids forget easily. So, the tenets of Korean karate had to be made clear, unambiguous and forceful.

The Volunteer Manager at The Dhaka Project, Mr Safikur Rahman, affectionately known as Jewel, acted as the translator.

The training begins.

As the drill progresses, the kids stumble, lose balance, perform awkward and sometimes hilarious moves. Coach Richard moves in between the rows to encourage, prompt, correcting stances, aligning hand and foot to proper combat-ready positions, shows how to kick, punch and hand-block the correct way.

Just before the command is given to stand to attention, bow and be at ease, the kids force out a powerful exhale yelling “hiiyah!” at the moment of impact. There is laughter. The girls giggle.

As each training day progresses, the kids adjust to the physical exertion of kicking, punching, blocking. The karate kids begin to amaze...

There is now steadiness, balance, synchronised movements of hand and foot in true martial arts style. They demonstrate competently the horse-riding stance, protection of head, face and groin using upper and lower hand blocks, execute frontal kicks, side kicks, deliver menacing punches.

I am impressed.

Apart from the obvious benefit derived by the children in practicing Taekwondo
[ self-defense, physical fitness, weight control ], the children increase their self confidence and self esteem too.

The resilience shown by the karate kids at The Dhaka Project illustrates the role nurture and education plays in the development of a child’s growth.

From the slums and streets of Dhaka, these previously marginalised kids and outcast in society, demonstrated that they have stamina, grit, mental strength to undertake the rigours of Taekwondo training...if given the chance to do so.

For these kids to develop into competent martial arts practitioners, it is hoped that a Dhaka-based Taekwondo instructor would someday come forward to volunteer and lead the kids to reach to the advanced Black belt level.

I departed Dhaka feeling pleased that the seeds of Taekwondo have been sown to these young hearts and minds. It now needs the consistency of a full-time coach for these kids to blossom.

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