Never too late for martial arts

KARATE MOM: Niqui Cloete-Barrass and her son Daniel show off their moves after their grading earlier this month. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE
KARATE MOM: Niqui Cloete-Barrass and her son Daniel show off their moves after their grading earlier this month. Picture: EUGENE COETZEE

Knockout mom earns her yellow belt

WHETHER it is on stage or in the dojo, Niqui Cloete-Barass belts it out and this month she swapped her feather boas and sequins to earn a yellow belt in karate.

What’s more, the popular Bay singer, MC, comedian and businesswoman only took up karate in her 40s after enrolling her son Daniel, seven, in the Japanese martial art.

Boost Creative Solutions owner Niqui – who celebrates her 43rd birthday on Friday – decided that instead of just watching Daniel she would join in the fun and equip herself with self-defence moves of her own.

“My friend Marietjie van der Merwe’s son, Armand, and Daniel started Bushido karate classes last year and Marietjie, who is a black belt, encouraged me to take up karate instead of just sitting there and waiting an hour doing nothing,” she said.

Cloete-Barass said when she first started karate classes she was the oldest student at the Lorraine Primary School dojo (training studio) run by Allison McLaren.

“The students and my friends probably thought I would give up because of being the oldest person there. But I looked past the fact that it might not be the normal thing to do and saw it as an opportunity to get fit and learn some self-defence moves,” she said earlier this week.

At her first grading (karate exam) earlier this month, she got a yellow belt while Daniel, who started before her, earned his “dinky” brown belt.

Daniel, in Grade 1 at Clarendon Primary School, said he could not be prouder.

“My mom was the one who told me to do karate but I really enjoy it. I feel silly sometimes but I think it’s cool that she does karate,” he said, laughing.

Cloete-Barass encourages women to take their safety into their own hands, saying this form of exercise is not “only about fitness and physical empowerment but also has psychological benefits”. ENTERTAINER Niqui Cloete-Barrass will put on one of her many hats when she performs for guests at an art and wine auction in aid of the ACVV Khayalethu Youth Centre next month.

Niqui will do cabaret-style entertainment with a bit of singing and comedy for the auction, which is aimed at raising funds for the Kragga Kamma haven for street children run by her friend – and karate mentor – Dr Marietjie van der Merwe, on May 29.

Tickets cost R280 per person and the evening starts at 7pm at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in North End.

ý Further information from Mimi Rupp on 082-460-4924.

“Karate empowers women in the sense that it boosts one’s confidence levels and makes you feel less intimidated by the world. A women with karate skills can take down a man who may be big but does not have the skills she may have.

“Women need to stop moaning about their safety and well-being but rather take up self-defence classes,” Cloete-Barass said.

“My husband Deon, 43, thought it was funny when I first started out with karate. He either found it amusing or scary when I’d practice at home and he would be the perpetrator and I’d do all the moves I’d learnt on him.”

Van der Merwe, director of ACVV Khayalethu Youth Centre and Oliver House, a haven in Kragga Kamma for former street children, has seen the benefits of karate for many of the boys at Khayalethu.

Van der Merwe, 46, encouraged women to take up karate at any age.

“I only started with karate when I was 29 and now I’m a black belt. It really doesn’t matter how old you are and that’s why I encouraged Niqui to start.

“I hope she keeps it up and I’ll support her every step of the way!” she said.

-Nomazima Nkosi 

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