STANDING in the small dojo at the Goodwill Centre in Campbell Street while the children learnt new techniques in the art of Goju-Kai karate, sensei Clive Naidoo, 3rd dan, looked over his students with pride.
“They are starting at the very beginning,” said Naidoo, who opened his dojo more than a year ago, but has been forced to move premises several times during that period. “We teach them self respect and respect for others before we teach them the techniques.”
Now, at the Goodwill Centre, Naidoo seems to be happy with the progress his young students have shown, and his friends, senseis Clayton Thom and Warda Mallick from dojos in Port Elizabeth, volunteered to assist him and his students on Saturday afternoon.
“Kids don’t necessarily distinguish between good and bad behaviour,” said Thom, who was trained in Japan and will return there in April to receive his 5th dan grading. “They tend to settle on whatever seems to work for them at the time. It is our job to interpret for them and teach them.”
All three senseis were born and raised in Port Elizabeth’s Northern Areas where they first became friends, and all three said had it not been for karate their lives might have been considerably different.
“Karate gave us not only discipline but also pride in ourselves and our community,” said Mallick, a 4th dan. “Without the intervention of our karate senseis we could all have ended up in prison, or worse.”
STANDING PROUD: Three senseis helped to train the students in their care and teach them discipline, self defence and how to compete in the Goju-Kai style of karate on Saturday afternoon. From left (at the back) are sensei Clive Naidoo of the Goodwill dojo in Port Alfred, and senseis Clayton Thom and Warda Mallick of Hillside and Westerly dojos in Port Elizabeth, with the boys and girls of the Goodwill dojo Picture: ROB KNOWLES
What is required is a buy-in from the local community,” said Naidoo. “Some of these children come from homes that cannot afford to even send them to weekly classes, and we try and help when we can. But there is an even bigger problem in that, when the children need to compete they have to purchase karate kit, and find the transport to take them and their families to competitions. It is not easy.”
Nevertheless, Naidoo is determined that some of his students will soon represent Eastern Province in their various age categories. According to Thom, this is indeed likely.
“I have seen a number of really good students here,” he told TotT, “and I would hope that some will go on to even represent South Africa overseas in the future.”
Still, for that to happen, sponsorship of the Port Alfred dojo will most certainly be required.
The students are taught both the traditional side of karate which includes self defence, grading and the philosophies involved with progressing in the art. Then there is the sporting side of karate, where students learn how to compete against others and can begin entering tournaments.
Naidoo believes that several of his students will participate in the sixth SASKA East Coast Karate Open Championships which will be taking place at the Fish River Sun later this year.
The Port Alfred dojo, in partnership with the dojos in Port Elizabeth, are hoping to put on a demonstration of the Goju-Kai karate techniques sometime this year, provided they can get a hall large enough.
“Once you have seen the Goju-Kai form of karate demonstrated you will understand our fascination with this ancient art form,” said Naidoo. “And once you have witnessed the discipline of the children we teach, you will be amazed.”