“True Karate is this: That in daily life, one’s mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the case of justice.”
-Master Gichhin Funakoshi
Father of Modern Karate
Nepal is home to some of the best self-defense techniques in the world. Martial Arts with its variations are is practiced by Nepalis of different sections and groups. It shouldn’t surprise you if you come across a Buddhist nun performing the martial art of Kung Fu, which is a very popular category of martial arts!
Nepal’s Martial Art Scenario
Martial arts in Nepal is governed by the International Martial Arts Association (IMAA), which provides training for children, teens and adults. The association creates the right environment for students who want to learn and develop their martial art skills.
The association has a full-fledged, traditional martial arts ‘dojo’ (hall) and is specialized in teaching ‘Shotokan Karate’ with Sensei Shanta Thokar – the fourth-degree black belt. One of the oldest forms of martial art, Shotokan was started by Master Gichin Funakoshi.
Martial Arts has for long been associated with eastern Asia, but it originally pointed to the combat systems practiced in Europe during the middle of the 1500s. The words Martial Arts is derived from Latin meaning ‘art of Mars’, the Roman ‘God of War’.
The beginning of modern Asian martial arts is a fusion of Chinese and Indian martial arts.
Types of Martial Arts
While there are innumerable types of martial arts practiced around the world, these arts can be group according to a variety of criteria:
Some of the most popular martial arts in Nepal include Karate, Kung Fu, Gurkha Kukri and Judo.
Karate originated in Japan and became popular across the world because of its sharp focus on building a person’s character and strengthening the physique while building mental concentration.
Karate was introduced to Nepal by Sensei Shanta Thokar, a well-known Karate Instructor, originally from Nepal and trained by Japanese Karate Association instructors.
He has a lot of experience in training Shotokan Karate to a number of students in Nepal and has been the Chief Instructor of Nepal Shotokan Karate Association (NSKA) for over 5 years.
Among the golden names in Karate for Nepal, Sita Kumari Rai and Bimala Tamang shine the brightest. Rai won bronze in the 1994 Asian Games Women’s Karate and very recently, Tamang won bronze for the Women’s Individual Kata for Karate at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
With an origination contributed to China, Kung Fu made a special place in Nepal and is practiced by a group of special people called Kung Fu Nuns who use Kung Fu as a means to fight for girl rights and empower them.
The Kung Fu Nuns began to rise to power when the Gyalwang Drukpa sought ways to create more opportunities for women when the lack of educational opportunities and unequal treatment for women began to cripple the nuns.
In 2017, Gyalwang Drukpa appointed a Vietnamese Kung Fu teacher in 2008 to teach them the martial art and build their self-confidence. Most of them have achieved black belts.
Gurkha Kukri Martial Arts
The Gurkhas are the elite units of soldiers who are today key part of the British and Indian Armies. They are famous for their large-bladed kukri knife and use of martial arts.
British officials appointed the Gurkhas as they displayed naturally war-like and aggressive nature in battle. The technique used by these soldiers is very similar to those of Dayak headhunters found in Borneo.
A cross between a knife and axe, the kukri is not only capable of beheading in one stroke, but also blocking an enemy’s blade. Owing to its unique design, it is used to perform in sync with a range of martial art techniques like stabbing with the point and slashing or chopping with the edge and throwing.
Interestingly, Judo in Nepal has a separate governing body called the Nepal Judo Association (NJA) and was formed in 1983. Registered with the Nepal Sports Council (NSC), NJA was under the able leadership of founder President Bishnu Gopal Shrestha.
The federation is affiliated to the Judo Union of Asia (JUA) and the International Judo Federation (IJF).
When it comes to Nepalese Judokas (judo fighters) names like Mohan Bam, Ganga Bahadur Dangol, Rishiram Pradhan and Bir Bahadur Rana come in the forefront in the men’s category, followed by Phupu Lhamu Khatri and Devu Thapa in the women’s category.
Long Live Nepal’s Martial Arts
With a range of martial arts practices, Nepal has left no area of expertise untouched. It is indeed a matter of pride for the country who is trying to compete with developed and developing countries on many different fronts.