When you have a father who is a 3rd Dan in Kyokushin karate and a black belt in Shotokan karate and a mother who is also a black belt in Shotokan karate and a green stripe in Kyokushin karate, no wonder that Rishika Banerjee would tread the same path and win laurels. This 15-year-old La Martiniere for Girls student participated in the 11th European Championship of Karate Kyokushinkai organised by I.K.O. Matsushima 2023, held in Santa Susanna City, Spain and defeated Denmark, Canary Island and Spain to win the final championship. “I was the sole candidate from India to participate at the championship which was held in Barcelona,” said the relieved winner who was accompanied by her father for the tournament.
Rishika had donned the karate gear at the age of four-and-a-half years. She earned her black belt after seven years of training. Simultaneously, she had started training and mastering in the full-contact Kyokushin style. She is currently a green stripe in Kyokushin. Her inspiration has been her father, who left his thriving Merchants Navy job to set up his own martial arts dojo. It has not been an easy task for Rishika. “The selection was based on my achievements over the past one year in state and national level championships in India, which included the All Bengal SBKR Open Full Contact Karate Cup in March 2022 and the All India SBKR Open Kyokushin Karate Championship in December 2022.”
The 11th European Championship to which Rishika was invited was organised by IKO 3 (Matsushima). IKO3 has 24 member nations in Europe and the participation was therefore from these 24 European nations as well as India. It had been made open to all the factions of Kyokushin karate (IKO1, 2 and the other smaller factions) and therefore participation was on a larger scale. According to Rishika, not being from a European nation was therefore an exception and an honour that she cherishes.
Shy and blessed with a soft-blown speaking tone, Rishika lets know that like any other normal teenager she loves the movies and music and most importantly is a dog lover. “My two Great Danes are my biggest stress buster. All my free spaces are reserved for them,” signs off Rishika.