When karate becomes a way of life
AVINASH NAIRAVINASH NAIR
The credit of taking karate to the classes and masses in Bangalore should go to Shihan Praveen Ranka.
THE CREDIT of making that pioneering effort to popularise karate in Bangalore should go to Shihan Praveen Ranka. His disciples include people from practically all walks of life, who, Ranka hopes, have adopted the sport as an integral part of their lives.
Karate, that ancient martial art supposedly inspired by Kerala's Kalaripayattu, came to its own in Bangalore in the 1970s and 1980s. Today, it has varied styles and methods. For this genial giant, it began as a passion from a tender age of 14 and it has stayed that way. Today, it has become, in his words "a way of life".
Born into a Jain family with business as its tradition, Praveen was different from his siblings, with his fascination and expertise in karate. Today, besides looking after his own business, he has over 30 schools and other institutions under his care where he teaches karate.
Young Praveen Ranka rose to enviable heights under the tutelage of Renshi RVT Mani, Hanshi Hisataka, Kyoshi Pat McKean, Shihan Scott Brown, Shihan Tewaname Terupe, and Shihan Vispy Kapadia among others. Having joined the Budokai Karate School, he trained hard and his self-discipline enabled him to become the first black belt from Karnataka. Today, Shihan Praveen Ranka has over a dozen different black belts from the various styles and schools such as the Budokai Karate Do, Chennai; Gojukai Karate Do, Mumbai/Japan; Gosoku-Ryu Karate Do, Canada; Kenkokan Karate Do, Australia; Pankration Athlima, Greece; Kobe-Osaka Karate Do, Scotland; Ryu Kyu Kobu Do, Okinawa; Koshiki Karate Do, Japan; and the Shorinji Ryu Jarata Do, Japan.
As an international referee, Director of International Karate Friendship Association, and Founder-Chairperson of the Martial Arts Trust, Shihan Praveen Ranka has been promoting and practising the Kenkokan Karate Do style, and is the President of the All India Kenkokan Karate Do. A combination of Shorinji Ryu, Shotokan, Goju Ryu, and Goikuai styles, Kenkokan is a fast expanding form that inculcates overall improvement and toughness. The style boasts of many senior and junior black belts among both men and women, most of whom now are assisting their guru in running the classes in the various institutions.
The Martial Arts Trust was the brainchild of Shihan Praveen Ranka that has been rendering yeomen service. Providing free training in self-defence to women, poor and disabled children, and senior citizens, the Trust has grown in popularity within a short span of time.
The All India Kenkokan Karate Do has been training Karnataka police in street survival and hand-to-hand combat. Shihan Praveen Ranka was the first to introduce karate as part of the school curriculum and conduct free summer camps for students every year.
Praveen teachers karate in more than 30 schools - Photos: Sampth Kumar G.P.
Shihan Praveen Ranka has a knack of getting along with people of all ages and this is largely reflected in the way the training progresses each morning. Schoolchildren to errand boys to waiters and menial workers assemble for training at each centre everyday, with the master himself leading the way at the Jayanagar stadium. The seniors and qualified instructors then impart what they have learned in the evenings. The instructors are put through their paces by Shihan Praveen Ranka himself Sunday mornings, which is a tough and prolonged session.
Pratibha and Shweta M.S, final year students of NMKRV College and gold medallists in open nationals, vouch for the overall personality development they gained after taking to karate under Shihan Praveen Ranka for the past three years.
Young Abhishek Murthy, a seventh standard student from Vijay High School, is a picture of confidence today. "I played cricket initially, but since joining karate (under Praveen Sir) there has been no looking back. I'm enjoying this very much and will not go back to any other form of recreation," says Abhishek.
Sunil and Kuber Rawal are different. Praveen saw the two boys, twins of a local watchman, bubbling with energy and enthusiasm and soon took them under his wing. Today, the boys beam in admiration for having found a way of life, and boast of a third place finish in katha and kumithe styles respectively in a championship event held at Chennai in September 2002.
Inspired by the legendary Bruce Lee, Shihan Praveen Ranka, since discovering karate in 1975, has indeed come a long way. Today, besides co-ordinating karate with education, Shihan Praveen Ranka intends to build his own Dojo with all modern facilities and train more youngsters. "Given the life in most of the metros, self-defence has become an integral part of one's routine," feels Shihan Praveen Ranka.
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