Wits University Tang Soo Do get ready for the South African Championships this weekend. From Left to right: Lushan Sundram, Robert Makoloane, Master Gregory Hart (trainer), Kim Lucas (Chairperson) and Ngwato Kekana Photo: Luke Matthews

EYE OF THE TIGER: Wits University Tang Soo Do get ready for the South African
Championships this weekend. From Left to right: Lushan Sundram, Robert Makoloane, Master Gregory Hart (trainer), Kim Lucas (Chairperson) and Ngwato Kekana
Photo: Luke Matthews

Members of the Wits Korean martial art, Tang Soo Do, are slaving away in preparation for the South African Championships to be held tomorrow, Saturday, at Old Mutual Sports Hall.

The Tang Soo Do South African Championships is the main event of the year for this martial art, and competitors come from across the country to participate.  There are three national tournaments a year, one at Wits and others are held later in the year in Bloemfontein and Nelspruit, according to Titus Masike, vice-chairperson of the club.

Traditional martial art

Tang Soo Do combines traditional Korean martial arts and modern techniques of self-defence such kicking and boxing.

Last year the Wits team excelled, collecting 24 medals in total.  Three members qualified for the World Championships and returned with eight medals.  Masike said: “[Tang Soo Do] is the best performing martial art club at Wits probably. It is not well-known so we don’t get as much funding as we would like to.”  Last weekend the team won 10 medals at the All-styles championships where they competed against Karate and Taekwando style teams.

[pullquote] “Use your mind to push through the limits of your body, to push through the pain and carry on”.  [/pullquote]

Masike emphasised the importance of practising forms and stances, working on fitness, cardio and sparring (fighting).  He said Tang Soo Do was strategic, “You need to think.  It’s not just about overpowering [your opponent].”  He said martial arts involved teaching the mind. “Use your mind to push through the limits of your body, to push through the pain and carry on”.

Practice makes perfect

Fitness is one of the key things the members are working on for Saturday.  Member of the team, Shakira Minty, an Accounting student, said she was making sure that her fitness was at an acceptable level and that she was physically ready.

To handle the stress of the approaching competition, Kim Lucas, the chairperson of the club said: “A lot of us have been competing for a while so we know what to expect, but for the new people we help them a lot; we make sure they train properly and help them with anything they need”.

Nerves of steel

As for pre-competition nerves, Masike said: “At first, when you are about to get punched, you flinch.  It takes a long time to get use to it before you stop [flinching].”  Minty said: “Turn nervousness into excitement.  Take the nervous energy and tell yourself you are excited.  Nerves are normal, they are good.”

The team is positive about the competition.  Ngwato Kekana, a Wits graduate has been part of the club the longest. He said: “It’s like any other tournament, just get ready for it.” Lushan Sandrum started competing this year and said: “I’m nervous but excited.  There’s nothing not to be excited about.”  Robert Makoloane, who use to do Karate before joining Tang Soo Do six months ago said, “I am confident, especially because I got a gold medal in my first Tang Soo Do contest [last weekend].”  Their confidence is not unfounded, as proven in the past, the Wits team generally performs well, according to Lucas.

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