PHOTO ESSAY | CAPE TOWN 

Karate much more than a sport for Khayelitsha kids

Goju-Kai style karate has become popular with dojos in Khayelitsha, Langa, Mfuleni and Gugulethu.

Photo of youngsters practicing karate
Youngsters practise karate at a dojo in Khayelitsha. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks
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“Ichi, ni, san, shi!” This can be heard repeatedly screamed by students from the Khayelitsha Karate Club – counting from one to four in Japanese. Youth and adults in the traditional all white karate suits practise the Goju-Kai style here.

The dojo is run from the Thusong Multi Purpose hall for free. It has been running for almost seven years and trains students from as young as four. The school hosts about 45 students. They each pay R100 a month.
19-year-old Thandokuhle Dangala from Khayelitsha has been doing karate since she was 12. Dangala started doing karate because she was impressed with the “discipline” she saw in other students.
“I’ve learnt to share, to be with other people, to be calm with everyone. I’ve learnt a lot,” says Dangala, pictured above. She won gold in a national karate tournament in 2015 in her division. With karate, Dangala says that she wants to travel. She is currently studying sports management at the CTI Education Group.
Students start to arrive just after 5pm for training sessions. They start stretching and warming up.
Siphokazi Mnyameni is 35 and has been doing karate for under a year. She is the oldest person in the class. An SAA air hostess, Mnyameni did karate when she was young but it was watching her son train that inspired her to start again. This year, Mnyameni went from green to blue belt.
Monde Sisusa is the sensei (martial arts teacher) and founder of the Khayelitsha Karate club. Growing up in Gugulethu, Sisusa started doing karate when he was 11. When he moved to Khayelithsa in the early 1990s, he wanted to create something more than just a sports club – a platform for community development.
Youngsters relax at the dojo. “We try to minimise crime. We try to take the children out of the streets,” says Sisusa. His ambition is to see the kids become “instructors, lawyers, doctors”. Sisusa is now 60 and is only able to teach part time. In the future, he would like to have his own dojo and be a sensei full time.
The numerous dojos found in the townships sometimes hold tournaments at the Thusong Multi Purpose hall.
Young participants watch a Goju-Kai tournament in Khayelitsha. The 7th Karate-Do Goju-Kai Global Championship was held on 28 September in Canada. South Africa took 11 gold medals. For many it would be a dream to one day go to the Goju-Kai Global Championships which has 23 nations participating and happens every four years.
Goju-Kai (or Goju-Ryu) is a Japanese karate fighting style consisting of “hard and soft” techniques or closed and open hand combat.
Over the last decade, the Goju-Kai style of karate has become popular with dojos opening in Langa, Mfuleni and Gugulethu.
For training, students have to be focused and highly disciplined. Here a youngster shows his friends his technique.

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