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Deaf learners break barriers one karate chop at a time

By Doreen Mokgolo

Masedisa Mojaki, the first African woman to attain the title of shihan (an expert instructor of martial arts), is breaking new barriers at the Ekurhuleni School for the Deaf in Katlehong.

In 2021, she embraced the school as her charity of choice. Over time, she noticed that while the students excelled in various sports, there were no karate classes available — a sport she has been deeply involved in since 1988 and in which she’s achieved remarkable success.

The title of shihan was conferred on her at the 13th WKO Shinkyokushin Karate Seminar in Japan from 11-18 October, where she achieved her fifth black belt.

Speaking to Scrolla.Africa, Mojaki said although she was excited about teaching the deaf learners, she was also anxious about the challenges that lay ahead.

“I understood that this was going to be a difficult task, as at the time I was still learning to sign and was in no position to be teaching in sign language.

“Karate is a vocal sport; one has to be able to hear the instructions and demonstrations which are in Japanese. There weren’t any signs designed to cater for the deaf community.

“This also meant that learners would have to stop and read the signs before they could fight back.”

Together with the learners, she decided to come up with signs for different terms to help make the lessons easier.

The school also had to introduce four instructors instead of two to ensure that all learners could see clearly to copy the instructions.

Mojaki said the only difference with the lessons is the time spent in the gym. And although the lessons take longer than when she is teaching students who can hear, she said she’d never trade the experience for anything.

“My dream is to see my students competing in international competitions and to see the sport introduced at other special schools in the country, ” she said.

In 2016 the learners went for their first grading and have since competed in various competitions.

Pictured above: The first African woman shihan, Masedisa Mojaki .

Image source: Supplied