Clad in a short purple dress and a pair or stilettos, this lady in her mid twenties would easily pass for a fashion model, it would take a man with celestial powers to know that this soft spoken beautiful lady holds a “maroon belt” in Karate.
Surprisingly, even if you step on her toes intentionally or shove her on the street, chances are she would never do something back violently.
Umwari Fatuma 26 a business lady started attending Karate classes at a very tender age of fourteen, “the benefits of learning Karate are uncountable, I have always been such a timid and non-assertive person but when i started karate, my self esteem hit the ceiling. I’m now confident and have nothing to worry about,” Umwari said.
To most women and girls , the words “karate” conjure up images of guys with bloody broken noses or sweating fighters punishing each other in the name of a sport; the images that just don’t fit the way most women want to see themselves or want others to see them.
The Technical Director of the Rwanda Karate Federation, Guy Rurangayire says karate is more about self-control and discipline than about fighting. “It is all about how you think, how you coordinate your brain and body, it also boosts ones self esteem,”
Rurangayire further enlightened that the major five rules in Karate are more of self discipline measures than fighting. “Seeking perfection in a character, being faithful, endeavoring, being respectful and restraining oneself from violence are the major rules in Karate,” he added.
But not everyone has a kind word for this game. Mbabazi Sarah 24, a hardware attendant at Muhima, hates Karate. “Pursuance of karate diminishes a woman’s femininity, it makes a woman’s body hard as steel. I can’t imagine having hands coarse and rough like sandpaper, i can never come anywhere near a Karate class. she vowed.
Karate also is not a game for the hard headed women like most people think, in Karate one never attacks either verbally or physically unless the need for self defense arises.
This sport moulds someone to be a respectful woman since every member is obliged to be a listener, who is humble and obedient, in fact, Karate combats any superiority behavior. it teaches discipline and determination.
Women who practice Karate become alert mentally and physically, it’s so sad that even at a time when physical fitness is so highly valued and self-defense is so important, women still hesitate to get involved in this great sport. Comments Black belt Claire
When we asked Fatuma how she’s treated by her family and close friends, she said “There are those who don’t understand and don’t accept women who practice Karate in the society.
I have to put up with men, who say that no man will marry me, family members also see me as an embarrassment and I also get scorn from fellow women,” she said.
Her advice to young women is not to join Karate with the aim of fighting foes or men as they won’t make it far, Karate teaches to respect elders, men and never to use learnt skills as a show off.
She urged women to join the different clubs in the country to learn the wonderful techniques of self defense and enhance the discipline that already exists in the country.