Students of the Kensington Karate School are making waves provincially, nationally and internationally.
This past weekend, three of the school’s students celebrated not only winning gold medals at the Africa Goju Ryu championships and trials, but also making it into the South African team to take part in the World Championships in Malaysia next year.
Miengaah Hendricks, Rania Gamieldien and Nurah Moerat will represent their country at the event in September 2019.
“The club did so well ... for a little club in a big game,” says parent Fadia Gamieldien, whose daughter Rania Gamieldien (12) is one of the three gold medallists.
The three were among seven of the club’s students who competed in the Africa Goju Ryu championships and trials hosted by Sensei Lillian Kattan, the head of the Okinawa Goju Ryu Federation.
They won a total of 14 medals among them.
Three sisters, Aamirah, Ammaarah and Aarifah Hurling, also competed and won eight medals between them.
“Despite coming from an underprivileged club, the students are dedicated to becoming the best karateka they can be,” stresses Gamieldien.
The Kensington Karate School is a non-profit organisation currently led by Sensei Tharwah Hendricks with the assistance of Sempei Russell Maart.
The school was founded by Sensei Carlo Jacobs.
He was succeeded by Sensei Liezel Brandeth and now Sensei Tharwah.
The school consists of a diverse group of students from various backgrounds between the ages of five and 58.
Children learn self-defence and restraint, improving their self-esteem, developing their confidence and becoming aware of their surroundings.
They also get opportunities to develop individual and team goals through participation in tournaments.
Sensei Tharwah started as a karateka herself.
She later took over the running of the club in 2015.
Sensei Tharwah is a national karate referee.
Over the past five years she has helped students reach the level of competing provincially, nationally and internationally.
Annually during the month of May, the Okinawa Goju Ryu Federation hosts a national tournament.
In 2016 the karate school had 15 students compete in the tournament and the karateka came home with 23 medals, of which 11 were gold.
In 2017, 12 students participated and despite their small numbers, the karateka came home with 18 medals, of which 10 were gold.
This year, 11 karateka took part in the tournament and received 19 medals, nine of them gold.
Training takes place at Shawco in 12th Avenue, Kensington, on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 17:00 to 18:00 (juniors) and from 18:00 to 19:00 (seniors).
Gamilidien says the school offers hope to the locals in the midst of gang violence.
A fundraising high tea was held on Sunday 16 September and the MC for the afternoon was comedian Tolla Vannie Kaap.