Kandivli’s karate kids make India proud

Written By Unknown on Minggu, 10 Agustus 2014 | 22.23

Brothers don't usually need an excuse to fight but the Shetye boys have an exceptional one. They can threaten each other with front kicks and centre punches knowing their mother will simply fold up their sleeves, comb back their hair and ask them to repeat it in front of guests, without a hint of irony. After all, they are doing it for the country. Otherwise, their cozy MHADA home in Charkop wouldn't boast a congratulatory board, two heavy rectangular gold medals and a box of Swiss chocolates, right now.

Recently, even as India applauded its Commonwealth Games winners, Kandivli's Swaroop and Samarth Shetye, aged 12 and 10, returned quietly from the international Tang Soo Do championship in Portugal, with two gold medals and three silver medals between them. Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art, also known as Korean karate.

It is quite similar to karate as we know it but for a few rules. "For instance, unlike Japanese karate, there is no face punch or side face attack in Tang Soo Do," says their martial arts teacher Subhash Mohite, adding that it is slightly more defensive in nature.

Even the show of respect is different, clarify the scrawny boys, seated next to each other, looking almost identical in their white shirts, black pants and coconut-oil-parted hair. "We say Thangsu in Tang Soo Do," says the three-foot-tall Samarth, in his thin voice, bowing. It has been four years now since the boys—who are also learning Japanese karate, swimming and wrestling— started training in the basement of their alma mater, Oxford Public School. "Last year, they beat district, state and national level Tang Soo Do champions to qualify for the international competition," reveals their father Gurudas Shetye who took a loan of Rs 2 lakh to fund their travel bills.

Shetye, an electrical engineer with the BMC, and his wife, Kanchana, a housewife have never been abroad, so besides stories of the cold weather and the luxurious rooms at the Mariott, they devoured their kids' stories of the manners of international Tang Soo Do masters. "They would call us 'sir'," recalls Swaroop, putting on his white uniform called 'Gee'. Swaroop then ties the fresh, thick black belt he received at the event in a knot at the centre and swipes through photos on a laptop to take you through the championship, which is organised by the International Tang Soo Do federation every alternate year.

This time, it saw participants from 13 countries, many of them taller and much older than them. Yet, "we were not nervous," say the boys. In all, there were three rounds to go through — the fight, the 'Kata' where they display stances and the breaking of boards. Throughout, their teacher Mohite had been sitting in the arena, watching their headguards and waiting for hands to go up.

During Swaroop's 'breaking board' round, Mohite saw that the board was almost double the thickness his student was used to. "I prayed for Swaroop to look at me," says Mohite, who wanted to instruct him to use his leg instead of hand, in mime. To his relief, Swaroop turned. "I thought I heard someone call me," recalls the 12-year-old, whose parents like to compare the moment to the point in their favourite film Chak De when Shah Rukh's character mimes instructions to his student that lead to a happy ending. When they won, the Korean masters reacted in Hindi, says Mohite. "They said, 'Badhiya," he laughs.

When they came home last week, the boys were chuffed to find their faces on a board on the nearby street light pole — a welcome gesture by Charkop's plot no 865. Now, their tuition teacher shows off on Whatsapp, Shetye's boss pats his back for his sons' achievements and the Indian Tang Soo Do federation is slightly more hopeful of a bright future. The success has helped the kids grow a bit. "They now sign up for every extra-curricular activity, confident of our approval," says Kanchana.

Clearly, though they are used to winning several medals, this one is special. At the door, when Samarth notices raindrops on the congratulatory board that bears the boys' photo, he carefully wipes the ones on his face.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=Mhada,Karate,Japanese karate

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