For over a decade Guy Didier Rurangayire has been practicing karate and from his experience, he says locally, there is a need to ensure that this particular game has an equal opportunity to compete internationally.
For this reason, in 2015 he established his own karate academy known as the Japan Karate Association Rwanda at the Kigali Sport Center, where he focuses on SHOTOKAN.
It is a style of karate which is a catalyst for the fitness of karatekas and also gives trainees the ability to defend themselves.
It is also an activity philosophically anchored in core values such as patience, compassion and respect.
A young girl trains at the Japan Karate Association Rwanda at the Kigali Sport Center.
At the club, the 41-year-old coaches adults and children aged 4 to 15.
“I strive to teach Rwandans and the younger generation to have a space to compete globally and to instill in them basic karate skills so that they can have the standards required to compete with the others, ”he says.
Rurangayire says the skills allow players not to be frustrated with their level whenever they get the chance to compete on the international stage.
“That means if you are a JKR black belt, you have the same level, the same level as people all over the world,” he says.
They also do this by inviting senior karate experts from different countries, to help instill the required skills in beneficiaries.
Children doing push-ups at Rurangayire Karate Academy.
“When we teach them, we also include the philosophy of becoming a full sportsman and the values of sport. We train them physically, mentally so that they can grow up with such values in consideration that karate will give them the opportunity to get involved in other sports that they are passionate about.
His career path
From the age of 13, Rurangayire began to develop an interest in karate, thanks to his then neighbor who taught him and other children the basics of karate in his neighborhood.
When he joined high school (Lycée De Kigali), he got involved in other sports such as handball, football and athletics; however, his main passion was karate.
After playing for different clubs, in 1999, he joined the national karate team, and for the first time, they participated in the African championship which takes place in South Africa.
After five years in the national team, he retired and became a member of the executive committee and technical director of the Rwandan Karate Federation until 2014.
He also had the opportunity to train with different Karate masters abroad. At the continental level, he participated in several training camps, where he focused on the basics and traditional karate.
Meanwhile, the father of two says that back then karate as a game was not well known and for them it was about building their careers.
There were also no funds and the players were only supported by their masters and other senior karate experts, which made it difficult for them to explore their talent to the fullest.
Comparing karate then and today, he cites that there has been huge progress as the game becomes more and more popular.
For example, he mentions that the national karate team is now more structured with permanent coaches supported by the government through the sports ministry.
In 2011, Rwanda started sending young people to participate in continental and world competitions. The country has also won various medals in the youth and senior categories at continental level, which he says is a milestone when it comes to karate.
“Right now karate has become more popular and in every district there is at least one karate club run by a karate instructor with a black belt. In general, karate is now the most popular martial arts sport thanks to the efforts of different organizations, ”he says.
When something is in its development stage, Rurangayire says maintaining the standard is a bit difficult for the federation, stressing that continuing to monitor the level of black belts, teaching, the management system and ranks is still an issue. .
To rectify this, he says there is a need for the federation to monitor and evaluate thoroughly, especially when it comes to leaders of karate clubs having minimum requirements to be allowed to form a club. karate.
At the moment, he says it’s not well regulated, but he’s optimistic that in the future it won’t be a big deal.
Rurangayire holds a fourth degree black belt (4th Dan) from the International Federation of Traditional Karate and the Rwandan Karate Federation as well as a third degree (3rd Dan) from the Japan Karate Association, an internationally recognized certificate.