Steenberg karate prodigy, Rabia Narker, 16, bagged double bronze medals at the World Full Contact Karate Championships, in Turkey, earlier this month.
This was the Ashihara Karate South Africa student’s first full contact and international event. She took part in the 16 to17-year old division after hearing about the event two months ago.
She was one of two karatekas from the Western Cape who participated in the kumite tournament. Neville Classen, from Vredendal, obtained third place in the veterans division.
It comes as no surprise that Rabia did so well in the tournament – her mother participated in several karate tournaments before she was born.
“I started karate very young because my parents did karate. I just grew up crawling in the dojo, making friends, doing kata and fighting. I just love karate,” she said.
Before she can participate in any tournament, it is the dojo’s duty to make sure that each student does well in school. No problem for Rabia – last year she attained an average of 91.33% at South Peninsula High School.
“Balancing school and karate is very tough. If you think about it this way; do everything in life in moderation, so you can handle anything you put your mind to,” she said.
“I am very happy that I won the medals. It is one of my greatest accomplishments in my life. It was my first international tournament and my first time fighting full contact, so it is a big deal to me. I am happy I brought home two bronze medals,” she said.
When young Rabia is not in the dojo, school or at home gardening with her younger sister, Sadiya, they volunteer at The League of the Friends of the Blind (LOFOB), in Grassy Park, where their dojo is also based.
She is currently helping to create a chess board in Braille for visually-impaired people. She also knows how to read and count using Braille.
“Don’t give up. Never give up. Believe in yourself,” encourages Rabia.
Her father, Kaicho Hoosain Narker, is the headmaster at Ashihara Karate SA. Kaicho Narker is an author of four different karate books and has travelled to over 60 countries since opening the dojo four decades ago.
They have over a thousand students worldwide and teach mixed martial arts as part of physical training (PT) classes in schools around Grassy Park.
“I started karate in 1974. It has been a very long journey. There is nothing else I would do. It is most gratifying to see that my daughters are also following in that vein and in my footsteps,” he said.
Ashihara Karate SA is an extension of the Japanese-based Ashihara Karate style, founded by the late Hideyuki Ashihara.
Their dojo-kun is built on principles that the students have to value and recite before and after training – from respect, discipline, excellence, attitude, courage, to leadership.
“The dojo-kun is the oath that we try to instil in our students; to always be courteous. It is our code of conduct. So we are not just a sporting organisation but an educational institution as well,” said Kaicho Narker.
Kaicho Narker said one of his students, Paralympian and black belt, Achmat Hassiem, survived a shark attack while surfing a few years ago. Losing a leg in the shark attack, he had to punch and fight his way back, which he did, taking part and excelling in several tournaments afterwards.
One of the oldest students at the dojo, Gakiem Hayzer, said he started karate in 1989.
“The secret is training and never giving up,” he said.
To join Ashihara Karate SA, contact Kaicho Hoosain Narker on 082 369 6904.