Idrees Ali

The man who lives and loves Karate

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Photo/Idress Ali

Srinagar: Karate, a Japanese sport of ‘unarmed combat’ is gaining popularity in Kashmir and in last couple of years, a number of young players here, who are pursuing this sport have bagged awards both at national as well as international levels.

Shaping the skills of Karate players who can compete in national and international sports events is a challenging job for every coach. Mujahid Yaqoob is one among the few Karate coaches here in Kashmir who is accredited with ‘Indian Karate Coaches Association’. He is associated with Karate coaching from the last 15 years and has contributed tremendously to the development of Karate in Kashmir.

A young man with an ambition to produce a young breed of world-class karate players in Kashmir, Mujahid Yaqoob revered as Sensei Mujahid, hails from Buchpora Srinagar. His inspiration for Karate Sports comes from the movies of Kung fu expert Bruce Lee (1941-1973) – who was a world famous actor from the United States and has starred in martial arts films. Yaqoob’s journey from a Karate sportsman to its coach has been quite challenging.

While taking us through his journey of becoming a Karate enthusiast, Mujahid told Kashmir Images that of late there was no concept of Karate his area and when he started to learn this art of ‘unarmed combat’, his neighbors would mock him but he didn’t pay any heed to them.

“I carried on with my training for the Karate by imitating Bruce Lee and was really enjoying it,” says Yaqoob adding that he went ahead with the training, at a time when there was no such academy in Kashmir that could train him in Martial Arts.

Mujahid says that in the year 2000, he came to know about Shihan Barat Sharma, a Delhi based Karate coach and was desperate to meet him.

“Somehow, I was able to contact Barat sir and then finally I got a chance to meet him. When I met him I was so fascinated by his coaching abilities that I decided to join his academy then and there,” says Yaqoob adding that as he began his journey, he had to go through many challenges.

“I overcame all those challenges and eventually joined Barat Sir’s academy in Delhi following which I was able to earn a black belt grade in a very short time,” added Yaqoob.

Back home, Mujahid through his learned skills of Martial Arts wanted to contribute in promotion and development of Karate in Kashmir. In 2004 mujahid started coaching kids in different schools of the valley and also conducted free coaching camps at many places.

“My sole aim is to uplift the sport of Karate in Kashmir so that players here are able to compete at the international level. I am working day in and out for development of karate,” says Yaqoob.

In 2014, Mujahid initiated an important step for the development of karate by establishing the ‘State of Art Karate Academy’ in Nagabal Ganderbal and named it “National Dojo Aacdamy.”

Mujahid Yaqoob established the academy singly by bearing all the cost of setting up the academy.

“The  academy is non- profitable. We coach aspiring Karate players by charging them a nominal fee. The academy has a good infrastructure but I am planning to add more features to my academy,” says Yaqoob.

Mujahid said: “The Academy has so for trained hundreds of aspiring karate players all across the Kashmir. Our trainees have performed very well at the state as well as at national level. Our Academy is open for both male and female players of the Kashmir valley.”

Interestingly the majority of Karate trainees at Yaqoob’s “National Dojo Academy” are girls. “Girls are keen about Karate sport as they find it very useful because the sport impart them with self-defense skills. Keeping in view the increasing crime rate against women, the acquisition of self-defense skills has become indispensable for the women folk and this is why we also often conduct the self-defense camps for them,” says Yaqoob.

“First and foremost, Karate demands devotion and high spirit and then compliance with the techniques of sport. Karate is a way of life for me. I love and live Karate,” Yaqoob says ardently. “I along with other coaches of my academy are giving their  best to develop and promote Karate in Kashmir,” added Yaqoob.

In his appeal to the Government, Yaqoob  says: “Keeping in view the gaining popularity of Karate in Kashmir, the Government should provide monetary and material help to this sport so that it would grow equally with other sports like football and cricket.”


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