Pune: Two Puneites recently made the country proud in the 1st Okinawa Karate International Tournament which was held in the first week of August at Naha City, Okinawa, Japan.
Over 50 countries and 1,200 Karate and Kobudo (weapons) specialists from across the globe participated in the event. A 10-member contingent from Isshinryu Karate and Kubudo Association of India (IKKAI) from Pune, under the leadership of Sensei Salil Nadkarni were part of the tournament.
Shripad Mahajan (48) and Neeraj Kulkarni were successful in securing places among the top 10 participants. Speaking about the tournament Nadkarni said Okinawa, being the Mecca of Karate and Kobudo, only the best can pass the stringent rules of referees. Two of the participants from Pune were successful in placing themselves in the top ten in the world in Kobudo in their respective age categories, said Nadkarni.
In the 40 to 60 years age group category, Shripad Mahajan, 4th Dan in Karate and 1st Dan in Kobudo made it to the top 10 with his impeccable performance with his choice of weapon – the Sai - a traditional piercing weapon used in Okinawa. The basic form of the weapon is that of a pointed, prong shaped metal baton, with two curved prongs projecting from the handle. “It was an amazing experience to see the masters present. It was a close finish and I lost out to a very talented Okinawan opponent,” said Mahajan.
In the 18 to 40 years age category, Neeraj Kulkarni entered the top 10 with his remarkable performance on the Bo (the long stick). “The pressure was huge but Sensei Salil’s training held us in good stead,” said Kulkarni.
Other members of the team were Sensei Salil Nadkarni, Sensei Sharmila Nadkarni, Indraneel Bhat, Mahua Narayan, Anand Bhagat, Nilesh Nimhan, Hemen Lohana and Santoh Bhise.
The team participated in special seminars on advanced techniques in Karate and Kobudo and got deeper insights from 10th Dan Okinawan masters.
Speaking about his future plans, Mahajan said he is planning to write a book on different weapons used in combat arts in Maharashtra and across India.