Young’s Club

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In last few years Kashmiris have shown a keen interest in learning different forms of martial arts. What is the reason? Certificates, self-defence, or international exposure, Heena Muzzafar tries to find out

Tong-IL-Moo-Do

Members of Young’s Club practicing Tong-IL-Moo-Do at a park in Srinagar. Pic: Bilal Handoo

Every morning around thirty students, wearing identical white jogging suits, who are enrolled at well-known private schools in Srinagar, assemble at a public park in Barzulla, to practice their skills in martial arts.

Since last few years’ martial arts – a Korean self defence mechanism – has become one of the favourite sports in Kashmir, among school going kids.

This year, thirty children from Kashmir are selected to participate in the 1ST South Asian Tong-IL-Moo-Do Championship, to be held at Indoor Stadium, Thimpu (Bhutan) between Dec 16 and Dec 19, 2016.

The championship has been organized by Bhutan Tong-IL-Moo-Do Association, affiliated with International Tong-IL-Moo-Do federation.

Introduced in 2010 by School Games Federation of India, Tong-IL-Moo-Do is a form of martial arts. It was first introduced in Kashmir in 2012 at sub-junior level at Green Valley Educational Institute, Srinagar.

Four years later, the next tournament, in junior’s level, took place at the Indoor Stadium, Srinagar.

Out of thirty participants from Kashmir, eleven belong to a single Srinagar based club: Young’s Club.

Established in 2000, the club was eventually taken over by Arshad Aziz after its founder Farooq Ahmad Mir died. Arshad, who learned martial arts in Thailand and Andhra Pardesh, is currently J&K’s General Secretary for Tong-IL Moo-Do.

Since 1998, Arshad has participated in a number of internationals, national and state level competitions. He has won eight gold medals at international level, fifteen at national level, and twenty at state level.

“I train my students with a motive that they can protect themselves,” said Arshad.

In last few years martial arts has gained acceptance in Kashmir, feels Arshad. “It is now acceptable in our society.”

In last few years, Arshad can see a visible change in parent’s attitude towards different forms of martial arts. “Parents are nowadays more aware about sports and its prospects viz-a-viz career,” said Arshad. “It also helps them to learn self defence.”

Another reason, said Arshad, is that parents want their children to have sports category certificate in future, so that they can have an edge in competitive exams.

A parent, who was accompanying his daughter to Youth’s Club, said that it will help her in two ways: she will know how to protect herself and will get a certificate for future.

But not everybody is pursing martial arts for sake of certificates; there are a few girls who want to make their name in the sport. “It is one of the best ways to keep yourself fit and besides it gives you confidence,” said a young girl. “I am excited because I want to show the world that Kashmir’s too are a talented lot,” says Mohsina.

The team slated to visit Bhutan includes, Jaria Ashiya (11), Ansar ul Huda (13), both from Green Valley School, Ilahi Bagh; Jaza Showkat (16), Ilmah Gulzar (12), Kazim Ayaz (09) Mohsina (16), Muntazir (15), Zaid Mir (13) of New Convent School, Gogji Bagh; Aaqib Muzafar (15), Zeeshan Zahoor (16) of Abu Sina School and Manaar Basharat (10) of DPS, Srinagar.

Almost every single participant is below 18-years-old, showing how martial arts became popular among the young in such a short time, said Arshad.

“I feel very proud that I will represent Kashmir at an international level,” said Jaria Ashiya.

The trip to Bhutan will costs each participant Rs 35,000, out of which Rs 10,500 will be borne by host country, rest they have to manage themselves.

“We do not get funds from the state government, we have to manage everything on our own,” said Arshad, who will be travelling with the team along with Bisma Riyaz, Rameez Khan, Bilal Majeed and a physiotherapist named Saima.

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