| Students of St Michael’s High School learn karate on the school premises in Digha, Patna. Pictures by Jai Prakash |
Patna, May 27: A few months ago, a group of boys got the shock of their lives. Seventeen-year-old Pallavi Srivastava punched one of them, even as he was about to hit her presuming that Pallavi had abused him.
What surprised the boys was that Pallavi was capable of dealing such a punch. Little did they know that the girl was a black belt in karate.
Many youths like Pallavi, a student of St Joseph’s Convent High School, are taking to karate classes in large numbers. Not only are they learning the sport in their schools but they are also keeping up the momentum at the summer camps.
Pallavi, who is also a trainer at Sports Karate do Association of Bihar (Skab), encourages the trend. She said: “People should take up karate seriously. It not only increases physical strength but also makes one mentally strong.”
Pallavi had started learning karate at a young age, when she was in Class VI, after she heard of an incident of molestation from her brother. She added: “Girls are said to be physically weak and even they think so. But if they focus a little, they can give a good competition to their male counterparts. I am now confident to tackle any adverse situation and I have also found girls more focused than the boys when I train them.”
The man responsible for taking the sport to the young students is Sensei Pankaj Kambli, the general secretary of Skab. Affiliated to Shito-Ryu Seiko Kai Karate Association of Bihar and recognised by the Union ministry of youth affairs and sports, Indian Olympic Association and World Karate Federation, Skab has around 10,000 students from 22 schools in the city. Notre Dame Academy, St Michael’s High School, St Dominic Savio’s High School, Don Bosco Academy and Avian School are only a few of them. Kambli said: “There is so much craze for the sport that a few schools have also made it compulsory for the students to learn karate. St Dominic Savio’s High School has already made it compulsory for all the students and St Michael’s High School is going to make it compulsory for students of classes VI and VII from July. Sudarshan Foundation, which has 16 schools in Bihar, also plans to make karate compulsory from the next month.”
He added: “The students are also joining the karate classes at the summer camps as they don’t want their practice to be hampered because of a break in continuity.”
Richa Nigam, a student of Kambli, who is continuing with her karate classes at a summer camp, said: “None of my friends joined me when I took up the karate classes, rather they used to make fun of me. But once they saw my moves, they joined me. I feel proud on my way to the summer camp as people turn and look at me in my white dress and they know I am learning karate.”
Kambli said many students approach him because of their obsession with fight sequences on the celluloid, which had also inspired him in the first place. “Parents always ask us to take care of their wards. We make them understand that until and unless they fall, they won’t be strong. And we do take care, as we first start with exercises and stretching. Once they gain confidence, we start with the serious moves. I also take meditation classes as that makes them control their mind,” he said.
According to 28-year-old Kambli, it is best to start karate classes from an early age. “I have students who are around four year olds. They can pick the moves easily as their bodies are more flexible at this age.”
Kajal Mahtha, the mother of six-year-old Amit Mahtha, said: “Amit even surprises his brother with his moves and he is 10 years older than him. He often frightens us but we really enjoy it.”
Today, Kambli has many laurels to his credit — 40 of his students are black belt holders, three have got jobs in three state departments under the sports category and many have excelled in international championships.
At present, some of his students are training to qualify for a championship organised by the World Karate Federation in Greece.