A Kung Fu development squad that excelled against 6 000 athletes from 32 countries has shown that sport can help overcome life’s obstacles.
A group of South African kung fu fighters showed the world what they are made of when they bagged an impressive eight medals at the Hong Kong International Kung Fu Championships in April.
The nine members of the victorious South Africa Youth Kung Fu Development Squad come from different areas in Cape Town, including Gugulethu, Mitchell’s Plain and Grassy Park.
The team competed in the tournament last year too and is proud that it improved its 2018 medal count.
Eleven-year-old Saifullah Chafeker, who is the son of the team’s coach, kung fu master Junaid ‘MJ Li’ Chafeker, was among the team’s medallists, winning gold in his division. He also took gold last year.
Salma Natalie Doran, who competed as the first South African female at the tournament, also won gold in the ladies’ beginners division.
MJ Li won three gold medals in the professional division, for tai chi, weapons and bare-hand dual.
Sinawo Yola (17) and Muhajir Abrahams (11) both won silver medals and the entire team competed in the Team Synchronised Event, where they won gold.
Shortly before the tournament, Boran said she first joined the programme to learn how to protect herself.
The 30-year-old Cape Town resident said kung fu has helped her learn a lot more than she expected when she joined the squad.
“There are many benefits, including a healthy lifestyle, healthy body and the ability to protect yourself. With the self-discipline that comes with kung fu, you can achieve anything you put your mind to,” Boran said.
With the exception of MJ Li and Boran, the team is made up of youngsters between the ages of 11 and 17.
MJ Li said he started the development squad after visiting China and seeing the impact the sport had on the behaviour of the youth in that country.
He said one of the team members, who lives in Gugulethu and does not have a father, has benefited greatly from his participation in the sport. Not only did he travel to Hong Kong for both the 2018 and 2019 championships, but his grades have improved and his school has reported that he has become a well-rounded individual with a great temperament.