Building men and women of character through karate

Mar 1, 2024

By Chitani Ian Zimba (1st Dan)

“No matter how long the road to your goals/dreams…..never give up!!! It will all be worth it in the end.”

April 2002 I started my first karate class, and I since then I swore I will never stop training as long as I live. At first the excitement was learning how to kick and punch, learning how to fight and defend myself when necessary. The longer I trained, I realised that there is so much more to karate than learning fighting techniques. The shaping of character, building/growing a resilient spirit (a never give up attitude), being mentally and physically strong. Karate basically teaches life skills that one can use to face real life challenges in and outside the dojo. It has shaped me to become a better member of the community (through building good character), better karate practitioner (maintaining an open mind always), better colleague at work (through team work spirit) , and a mentor as I also teach children and adults karate and it’s benefits. It is a way of life, a very challenging art that requires complete dedication and discipline to rise through the different ranks within the art. Earning a black belt is quite an achievement, it shows that one has handled pressure, challenges, hardships, failures, injuries, disappointments, thousands of hours training, shed sweat, tears and blood, defeat, and yet still chose not to give up. They got up, dusted themselves off and carried on. What better and stronger a mindset than this?! I would like to continue cultivating this on myself and to as many children and adults that I teach, to build a stronger nation, stronger generation and stronger warriors.

Teaching my Dinky warriors has given me the opportunity to watch them cultivate talents, make meaningful friendships, and discover things about themselves. Some students struggle more than others, but there’s nothing quite like witnessing a Dinky have a light-bulb moment when everything finally clicks. Apart from physical exercises, kicking and punching that they do with so much passion, they are so over-joyed to be able to count in Japanese, learning techniques in Japanese, and having to recite some Japanese phrases at the start and end of training. Watching their growth, successes and improvements is a rewarding process for me. Whenever I am with them, it is always hard to end the session, for they bring joy, calmness and they wake up the child in me. In a selfish and crazy way, I would wish they never grow up 🙂

Living in a community where gender based violence, bullying in schools and crime is generally rife, teaching karate to the youth and school children will help combat these challenges. Apart from the self-defence aspect where I teach them how to stand up to a threat, the training goes beyond physical techniques; it instills a sense of awareness, confidence, and the ability to respond efficiently in various situations. Teaching them how to first respect themselves, so that others will respect them. Not only do I focus on the victims, but also on the bullies too by addressing the behaviours of bullies:- character development through teaching good values and qualities that help them become model citizens. They learn to respect others, manage and channel their emotions and self control. This curbs bullying behaviour. They learn leadership skills – bullies learn that they can act as leaders and can uplift other people rather than hurting them and pushing them down.

It’s all about “building men and women of character through karate.”