Karate is alive and kicking in Riyadh. (That’s a terrible pun, I know). We have bloke come to our compound twice a week to give lessons to kids. Apparently he has to come to the compound because, in Saudi Arabia, girls aren’t allowed to join ‘official’ Karate clubs – and a number of girls here love their karate.
Because girls aren’t recognized in the sport in Saudi, any belt levels they are tested for at our karate classes cannot be officially registered through the clubs here. The boys can be. The girls can’t. The best our instructor can do for the girls is to print up a certificate they can hang on their wall. Should they ever leave the country and join a karate club, it is highly likely their level will not be recognized, unless the karate club is extremely understanding, so it may be back to square one for the girls. Initially when I was told this, I bristled a little. But then I figured that the kids are just happy doing karate and passing tests, so chill out Kiwi! Of course, should someone with a bit of influence read this blog maybe they could make it their mission to change this situation for karate kicking females – or am I dreaming again?
Hubster and our son used to do Karate many years ago. They were encouraged to join by our neighbor who was into karate in a big way – world tournaments and all that, along with his wife and daughters. They even have their own dojo (aka club). You can check it out at Kyonkushin Karate, North Harbour Training Center. One day we were invited to a party at their place when a couple of young men, who had come as tag alongs (as in they were invited by a guest, not the host), decided to try and steal things from the house. The dimwits didn’t realize it was a karate club party and that The Neighbor was the best of them all. When their dastardly deeds were discovered, they were given a very rapid, thrown down the stairs type of exit.
Maybe that’s what scares the men in Saudi – their women being perfectly capable of giving them rapid exits should they be displeased with them in any way. Someone should explain that karate isn’t just about the ability to defend yourself, though that does come in handy should a husband decide to flout Saudi’s recently introduced domestic violence law and resort instead to the dated, apparently religiously sanctioned, practice of wife beating. Karate also improves fitness, co-ordination, flexibility and weight control. According to Kreimers Karate, the sport is particularly useful for women because “it develops the lower abdomen, hips and inner thighs; areas which produce a youthful feminine figure for women of all ages. After childbirth in particular, these areas are stretched and weakened; [Karate] training is ideal to restore muscle tone for health as well as appearance.”
Not forgetting the mental benefits which include improved concentration, improved confidence and sel-esteem. According to GKR Karate, it is “an environment that promotes respect and courtesy. It teaches a student to become more disciplined, more patient within themselves, and encourages humility above ego.” (I know what you’re thinking Fellow Saudi Expats – Perhaps all Saudi’s should be sent to karate class!)
Anyway, when the grandchildren were here in Riyadh, they loved the karate. The karate teacher got the kids to learn karta’s, to kick a mattress, or hand pads. And only occasionally, each other. We spoke to the Ozzie Branch of grand kids the other day and they have joined a karate club in Brisbane. And down in NZ another grandson does Kung Fu twice a week and loves it.
I googled “karate clubs” in Riyadh to see how many are out there. There weren’t as many as I expected. Well, they aren’t advertising themselves via Google anyways. Here’s what I came up with:
- The Mortal Kombat Karate Association, Inc. (MKKAI) of Riyadh, under Master Samuel Dela Cruz is conveniently located at Power House Dojo Gym, Batha near the Postal Office. Their contact numbers, according to the website, are 0502048832 or 0503237252 and their e-mail address is email@example.com
- International Karate Center, Middle East, under Instructor: Mohammed Saad Alkahtani is in Sodair St.Shoubra. Dojo Phone (according to the directory I found them in) is: 966 505-292385, Dojo Fax:961 267-665 Ext. 108 Dojo Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Funakoshi Shotokan Karate-Do NR Association – all I cold find was their Facebook page, so if you can find more info, feel free to pass it along.
- My Gym is apparently starting Karate classes for kids.
- Batang Pinoy Karate Club, Riyadh KSAthis is another Facebook page, but it has pictures of girls, probably because it also says it’s a private club.
I have no idea if these places offer karate at their premises for both genders because, at the time of writing, I haven’t called them to find out, lax of me, I know, but I have to say, with the exception of My Gym, I’d be surprised if they do.
Apparently the new Ladies Only sport complex in Dammam offers karate for women, which is not one bit of use for us women in Riyadh but, hei aha, it’s a start. If you know of any other places where girls and boys and women can do karate in Riyadh, please let me know. After all, sharing is caring.