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Sunday, November 07, 2010

Kelvin Fighting Noma in Ethiopia

As autumn leaves turn brown & thoughts are of Hallowe`en or dare I say Xmas! it`s time for my yearly trip to Ethiopia to do some charity work for Facing Africa.
The Medical Centre
The Surgery

The Team
The People
It's usually a busy couple of weeks but I thought that perhaps I could squeeze in a few sessions of karate, yes, even in Ethiopia! It didn`t take me long to find a club in Addis Ababa on the web. I emailed the chief instructor who to my surprise & delight returned the compliment. The Chief instructor is Solomon Kebede; he is the President of EKA (Ethiopian Karate Association) and the founder.
Above : Sensei Solomon Kebede and Kelvin

The EKA was established on the 20th of June 2005, when it was officially registered by the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ministry of Justice. Before this any Martial art in Ethiopia was illegal so training used to occur in secret.

So along with the allowance of 45kg of equipment, I smuggled in my gi. There are 4 training sessions per week. I targeted the weekend sessions as work commitments would make the others difficult. I grabbed one of the ubiquitous blue & white taxis which definitely don`t have a MOT!They took me to the Alem Gym (Alem means world) where incidentally Gabri Salassi trains. I received a warm welcome by all.

The training consisted of two hour sessions each time. The training was fairly intense, with no air con, but the Ethiopian temperatures are always between 21 - 25 C. The main obstacle is the altitude with no time for natural adaptation. If you have never trained at altitude before; then imagine nausea, headaches & shortness of b
reath with mild exertion e.g walking slowly upstairs. So even slow kata was interesting!

The session began with kihon, blocks punches & kicks, then we moved on to the Heian katas plus Bassai dai to count then with speed & power! One after the other, the first hour finished with kumite, I had to spar with Japanese & Sri Lankan 1st Dans (who have adapted to the rarefied atmosphere). So a quick collapse on the floor! Before starting the second hour. This was tougher with more sparring & fitness work. I have some new ideas for warm ups now!

I was invited to teach some of the youngsters basic sparring I had the privilege of leading the closing ceremony both in Japanese & Amharaic. Overall it was an excellent experience, & as usual with karate away from home I have always been made very welcome. This was no exception!

So a big thank you to Solomon & his club members.
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