CHENNAI: Shihan Kebiraj is not just a coach who trains school kids. Following a request from the government, he is training central prison wardens from across Tamil Nadu, while at the same time, grooming para commandos, the national security guard, and the special frontier force.
He also conducts free self-defence classes for women in 125 villages.Undeniably one of the most significant figures in the development of Indian Goju-Ryu, the Budokai Karate training school and mixed martial arts in the country, he has 22 years of teaching experience, 60,000 students, 10,000 female students and 230 black belts.
He has also coached 700 national-level winners.Learning martial arts can help women in many ways. Knowing how to defend yourself is an invaluable tool growing up, and it gives assurance not only to the trainee, but also her parents.
Conversely, such exercises increase endorphin levels that leave you in a positive mood. Concurs Kebiraj, who adds: “When fighting, girls learn that if they get knocked down, they shouldn’t cry and give up.
They should get up and keep fighting. That’s where martial arts help. Every youngster has to learn it. For girls, it’s a must, just like academics!”An international champion, his dream is to inculcate values of this art in every youngster, and train them for difficult situations in life. Martial arts are not just about fighting.
They increase discipline, build confidence and prepare one to face adversities.Asked why he took up the sport, the 35-year-old cites an anecdote. “When I was small, I used to be scared of my shadow, and ran away to avoid it. To overcome that, my mom put me in these classes. After a year of training, I was addicted.
That’s where I learnt how to be brave. But later I realised the importance of martial arts, and started mastering it.”A famous martial arts practitioner once expressed, “Running water never goes stale, so you have to keep on flowing.” In an age when women need someone accompanying them at all times, these skills could prove to be invisible bodyguards.