By Ashok Gurung, Pittsburgh PA
A Japanese martial art, Shito-Ryo-Karate, was inaugurated by Bhutanese players in Pittsburgh working in collaboration with Bhutanese Community Association of Pittsburgh (BCAP) last Saturday.
Tika Ram Rai from Columbus (3rd Dan) was the main master to lead the group for the day. He started his Karate career in 1990 and was one of the two masters to introduce Karate in the Bhutanese Refugee Camps in Nepal. Tika Rai from Khudunabari and Ran Bahadur Rai from Bel-1 together initiated Karate teaching in the Camps and they are still working to spread the Shito-Ryu style of Karate here in the U.S. Back in the camp, the Rai duo worked together to produce over 2000 Karate students including over 200 black belts.
Shito-Ryu Karate style is quite unique in Pittsburgh and many other states in the U.S because this style is rare in this country or if not, some of the states have traditional styles. Speaking on the occasion, Sensei Tika Rai said, “We want to spread this Shito-Ryu style as an official and safe sport.” This style has been registered and affiliated under US National Karate Federation. The Columbus dojo is also registered under National Karate Federation (NKF).
In his new update, Sensei Rai informed that some of the players have already qualified for national Olympic qualifying championship in a competition that was held in Dayton, OH on March 4, 2016. Sensei Rai also added that intentional attack/pre-emptive striking is restricted at all times during the competition in the ring to make it safer. A player must have an attitude of sportsmanship to get involved in this sport.
Yadu Kuikel from Charlotte, TilaChan Dhimal from Lancaster, Moni Thulung, from Columbus, Purna Singh Tamang and Ashok Gurung from Pittsburgh were among the 2nd Dan holders present on the occasion. Buddha Rai from Cleveland and Kunti Gurung from Pittsburgh were the two ladies holding 1st Dan in the group. In addition, Tek N Nepal with a brown belt was one of the individuals who worked with instructors for the development of karate in camps. He was given respect by all the players on the occasion which indicated that his contribution was highly valued. Speaking on the occasion, he said, “I had a living dream for getting involved in Karate but the situation in refugee camps didn’t favor me to complete; however my youngest son is joining from today to fulfill the remaining.”
The ex-president and English Language and Civic Educaton Coordinator (ELCE) of BCAP, Khara Nanda Timsina spoke on the needs and objectives of launching Karate in Pittsburgh. He was speaking on the slides running on a screen which had many words of Martial Arts related knowledge. One of the slides read, “It is one discipline that aspiring youth can dream of achieving one of their goals in life. It is the discipline in which the youth who have lost their positive path can accidentally get into a fruitful and healthy lifestyle.” Timsina remembered his interest in learning the Art and getting involved when he was young even at the time when the circumstances were not in favor.
Four of the students who came from Ohio were offered full yellow belt on the same occasion. Bhutanese karatekas from different states attended the inauguration.
In Pittsburgh, a hall in Philips Park Carrick is reserved to conduct training and Purna Tamang is a prospective instructor for the city.