When one thinks about the martial art of karate, what immediately comes to mind? I bet you envisaged Asian looking people dressed in white suits, able to do the impossible in terms of strength and stamina. However there is much more to the art than what meets the eye. This art form can is considered to be a source to self-discovery as it teaches discipline and how to sway ones hands and feet meticulously with precision.
In times past it was considered an elite sport only for those who can afford it and who live in the suburbs. The sports has evolved much since as more lower and middle income parents can afford to send their children to dojos or even practice it themselves.
Known as an indigenous art form, karate is known in the West for its fighting techniques while in the East it is revered for the discipline it instills. To date there between 50 and 100 million practitioners worldwide.
Sensei Schalk Burger is a former student at the Shotokan Academy in Windhoek and is now a coach there. Schalk is the son of Sensei Willem Burger, who is the founder of the Academy. Sensei Schalk spared The Lounge a few minutes to tell the tale of the successes behind one of the most celebrated karate academies in Namibia.
The Shotokan Academy opened its doors about 25 years ago by Sensei Willem Burger, shortly after his arrival in Namibia. Sensei Willem came back to Namibia (after studying in South Africa) as a karateka and karate enthusiast. Sensei Willem always had a passion for people and more especially working with young children. He saw a need in his community to teach these young children his passion and at the same time discipline their characters. However there was one stumbling block that he was faced with. The karate syllabus during that time started with children from the ages of eight years only.
Sensei Willem wanted children from as young as five years to be integrated into the sports code and that included his son Schalk Burger. Immediately he embarked on setting up a syllabus that would cater for this specific age group. The new syllabus was named the ‘kiddies programme.’ This introductory phase of the sports taught the young ones crucial self -help skills.
The skills included building self-coordination, discipline and confidence. The new syllabus went a step further as it focused meticulously on children that suffered from anxiety as well as children whose parents found them challenging. Sensei Schalk explained that karate proved to be very therapeutic for these children.
“The children became more calm and relaxed, they improved on their discipline and were able to control their emotions,” said Schalk. Sensei Schalk added that teaching these children the art of karate has made a significant difference in their lives.
Why Karate ?
Sensei Schalk explained that his father allowed him to partake in other sports codes although karate was part of the family tradition. Schalk played rugby and tennis amongst others. He however chose the art of karate above them all. “Karate is a lovely sport to be involved in and I love it,” he said. He further explained that unlike other sports for instance tennis that only develops one side of the body left or right, karate develops the entire body. “The discipline, respect in the sports and the feeling of being part of a family is the reason I am involved in the art till this very day,” said Schalk.
What sets the Shotokan Academy apart from other academies is the fact that it offers classes to Karatekas as young as five years up to the age 70 to 80. The academy caters for both parents and their children so instead of parents just watching their children practice they can all do this together. “Some of the best and highest graded karateka’s in the world are very old, it’s a timeless sport,” Schalk said.
The academy strives to ensure that when the Karateka walks out the door they are armed with a sense self-defence, fitness, moral values gained through self-discipline, self-development, respect, stamina and self-improvement.
“Karate is not just a sport, it’s a life style that teaches one life lessons,” said Schalk. Also, practicing Karate enables you to remain humble and grounded in the fast developing world we live in.
Be part of the art…
Karatekas are expected to pay a participation fee of N$750 per school term and N$200 registration fees per year. The academy is self-funded thus it relies on the participation fees. The Shotokan Academy has been partaking in the Karate Championships for the last six to eight years. The academy has represented Namibia in tournaments throughout the world including countries such as United Kingdom, Italy, South Africa, Portugal and United States of America.
“Like in life, you will have up and downs. You may become rusty and lose to people you haven’t lost to before but you need to keep persevering,” said Sensei Schalk.
Karate is a discipline that offers a time-proven method for personal development and can expand on an individual’s physical, as well as mental capabilities. If you at any point want to enhance your capabilities and become part of a world class karate academy make your way to the Shotokan Academy dojos in: Windhoek West, Khomasdal, Suiderhof, Klein Windhoek, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Omaruru.