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MOULDING FUTURE STARS: Black Belt man Karimbhai aims to give Kenya the best

By Tony Owori | Aug 31st 2016 | 2 min read
Kaizer Karimbhai (left) takes lades through training at Industrial Area Nairobi (Zahara Signs) last weekend. [PHOTO: COURTESY]

Senior Black Belt karateka Kaizer Karimbhai has devoted his time to martial arts for self-defence for decades.

At 70 years of age, the karateka displays amazing physical fitness.

Watching him demonstrate karate skills to a group of upcoming martial artists in Nairobi’s Industrial Area last weekend, one cannot fail to notice the ease with which he demonstrates his mastery of the sport.

Karimbhai was among the pioneer Kenyans to take to martial arts in 1962.

“I had just completed my ‘O’ Level Cambridge exams when I got into a fight with an older, taller and stronger boy. I managed to punch him, before he threw me to the ground.

“Luckily, spectators intervened. This gave me sleepless nights. And in 1961, I joined the Nairobi Judo College. I went to the UK in 1965 where I attained my Black Belt in Judo and Karate,” he says.

Karimbhai would then return to Kenya to concentrate on family business in Nairobi, which specialises in making signage for local companies. For Karimbhai, martial arts runs deep in the family. His brothers Murtaza and Munaver were both 4 Dan Black Belt holders.

He teamed up with his brother Kutbuddin to train other Kenyans in karate in the 1970s. Their efforts got a big boost with the arrival of top instructor Yashio Tamura, who was seconded to Kenya by the government of Japan.

The two brothers played a key role in training members of Kenya’s national teams that competed in Egypt, Madagascar and Zambia besides organising the Nairobi Provincial and National Championship. Karimbhai was the chairman of Nairobi Karate Do Association between 1980 and 1992, while the late Kutbuddin became the national federation boss from 1984 to 1988. In 1984, the Japanese government honoured Karimbhai with a gold medal for helping promote karate by training newcomers, establishing karate clubs and organising karate contests in Kenya over many decades.

Karimbhai looks 20 years younger than his age, a fact he attributes to physical and mental fitness that comes with the sport. He conducts martial arts training sessions in two local universities besides offering free training sessions in Nairobi to upcoming martial artists.

“Martial arts instil fitness, physical and mental strength, flexibility, mobility, balance of body and mind, self -discipline, team work and honesty, among other virtues,” he says.

“I want to make martial arts relevant in the 21st century by helping people apply it in their daily lives. All physical actions, including punching and kicking, come from the brain,” he says.

“Martial arts has helped me become more confident in in life. I have become a better person in all situations of life since I started karate sessions,” says Patricia Munguti, one of Karimbhai’s trainees.

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