• Monday, Jan 20, 2020
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Bangladesh karate blooms again

  • Published at 08:37 pm December 4th, 2019
Karate girls like Marzan Akter Antara and Humaira Akhter Priya brought laurels for the country with Tuesday’s golds in the South Asian Games in Kathmandu Courtesy

As many as three golds were bagged in karate, which was excluded from the 2016 edition, after the first gold came through the hands of Dipu Chakma in taekwondo

All of Bangladesh’s four gold medals so far in the ongoing 13th South Asian Games came from the two martial art sports, already equaling the number of golds won in the last edition. 

As many as three golds were bagged in karate, which was excluded from the 2016 edition, after the first gold came through the hands of Dipu Chakma in taekwondo.

Karate was also at the top of all sports in terms of winning golds (four out of 18) during the 2010 Games, which was held at home. 

But winning three golds in a day never happened before, while three silvers and 12 bronzes were also won along the way in three days.

“We began the training camp a year ago, six months before the other sports, and sent the players to different competitions in Uzbekistan, Cambodia and India. Lastly, they also trained for 13 days with the Malaysian team. The South Asian Karate Championship in Dhaka last month was a trial for us. This is why we are doing so well in Nepal,” said former national player and current karate coach Moazzem Hossain Sentu Wednesday.

India and Maldives are not taking part in the karate events, which saw the chances of winning medals increase for the total 101 karatekas from five countries in the ongoing Games.  

Back story

Film star Masud Parvez Rubel, who popularized the idea of martial arts in Bangladesh through the big screens, participated in the first national karate competition in 1982, along with kata coach Sentu, who informed that the movies of Bruce Lee also started landing around that time.

Since then, karate, the country’s most popular martial art sport, took many turns before achieving its pinnacle in the last one decade. 

The rules and regulations of the games also changed from time to time.

Among the many forms of martial arts, like Chinese wushu, Korean taekwondo and Japanese judo and karate, the latter two were introduced here first jointly with the foundation of Bangladesh Judo and Karate Federation before they divided into two separate federations in 2001. 

Famous senseis and fighters

The two most-known fighters in karate for their consistent international achievements are the twin brothers of Hasan Khan Sun and Hossain Khan Moon. 

They became famous for achieving success together in team events, starting with a bronze in Asia Pacific Karate Championship in 2005, gold in the SAG 2010 and silver in Commonwealth Karate Championship in 2014. 

The 31-year old brothers however, won only bronze in the ongoing Games.

“The game was not in a good state before but it changed after we won four golds in the 2010 SAG. Shooting came next with three golds. Karate started spreading throughout the country for a while before dipping again. It’s only in the last two years that it started becoming more active,” said Sun.  

Before Sun and Moon, famous 1980s karatekas were Shahzada Alam, Sentu and Humayun Kabir, who is now the chief judge of Asian Karate Federation and referee of World Karate Federation, while 1990s karatekas were Iftekhar Hossain Parvez, Hossain Ali and Shahnewaz Jinnah, among others, informed current sensei and former player Jashim Uddin.

The Japanese influence has always been there in the game. 

Everyone remembered the name of Nona Ka, the Japanese coach of the national team before the arrival of shihan Kitamura Tetsuro in 1985. 

Sensei means coach in Japanese while shihan means coach of the coaches. 

Many disciples of Kitamura, the now chief adviser of the national team, became senseis now, including Sentu and Jashim.

Crisis with dojos

Unfortunately, there is no specialized venue for karate. 

The gymnasium of National Sports Council, initially built for gymnastics, had been the only venue of karate before the Shaheed Suhrawardy Indoor Stadium in Mirpur was built.

Around seven sports including gymnastics, wushu, taekwondo and weightlifting, among others, shared the NSC gymnasium for training purposes while the Mirpur indoor stadium was used for volleyball, fencing and many others. 

Sentu, Jashim and Sun all echoed the same tones of venue crisis.

Currently, the number of karate players is increasing day by day with many girls taking it up as a means of sport as well as self-defence. 

Karate girls like Marzan Akter Antara and Humaira Akhter Priya, who brought laurels for the country with Tuesday’s golds, also urged for a proper dojo, which would not only help the game itself but also the other sports, especially gymnastics.