Karatekas prepare for national champs

Wongalethu Fandreki.

Despite growing in leaps and bounds, a karate gym, started four years ago to train residents – young and old – in self-defence in crime-ravaged Wallacedene, still has no permanent premises.

The Wallacedene Goshukan Reachout’s Goju Ryu karate club, which has been using Hector Peterson Secondary School’s main hall on Mondays and Wednesdays, between 5pm to 7pm, is preparing to send some of its karatekas to Johannesburg to participate in the national championships from Friday September 30 to Sunday October 2.

However, their preparations clash with those the school is making for the matric exams.

So the school has asked Wongalethu Fandreki, the gym’s instructor, to move his time slot to 6pm.

But the club fears this will be unsafe for its members, many of whom are teenagers.

The gym previously used the Blue Ridge sports complex until it was vandalised beyond use in late 2013.

Goshukan provincial instructor Gary Mahnke said the club was also considering leasing a property in Bellville South.

Mr Mahnke, who has been a black-belt sensei since 2011, said the club would also approach the City after the championships to explore the possibility of acquiring land for the gym.

The school’s principal, Cikizwa Madlanga, said she had no other choice but to move the karate club’s time slot because it would disturb the matrics.

Goshukan is a school of karate, while Goju Ryu refers to the style of the karate taught at the club. The club has 30 students – the oldest is a 72-year-old woman – and it’s trying to attract more, especially girls and women, who are often targeted by township thugs.

“Karate is a way one can defend oneself in a practical situation; and not only that, it teaches you self-discipline and goes along well with education, which is why we always stress the importance of education,” Mr Fandreki said.

Goshukan Reachout, a registered member of the Love Trust NPO, is responsible for 1 500 pupils from different schools, whom they train for free. The two organisations plan to build three early childhood development schools in the northern suburbs in the near future, Mr Mahnke said.

The club hopes to see some of its karatekas compete at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, where the martial art will make its debut.

* At the national championships last year in Durban, Mr Fandreki won a silver medal in kumite (fighting), while his Kraaifontein protégés Liam Meyer, 16, won gold in kata (performance), Kalim Meyer, 9, bagged double gold in kumite and kata, and Siyabonga Manzana, 16, and Jalin de Klerk, 16, won bronze medals each for kumite in their categories for young boys and girls, respectively.