With the rise of martial arts in many townships and villages across South Africa during the ’70s and ’80s, joining a karate club became hugely popular. And Sensei Kgomotso Motshabi was among those as she was inspired by internationally renowned kung fu king, Bruce Lee.
Movies such as Enter the Dragon, Shaolin Temple, Drunken Master, Best of the Best and Karate Kid that were shown in small classrooms or church buildings, were big among the youth at the time and ignited Motshabi’s dream to emulate Bruce Lee.
Motshabi holds a second Dan black belt and joined Mmabana Mafikeng Dojo (karate club) in 1990 under the tutelage of Sensei Badu Mothusi, feared by many who succumbed to her vicious geris (kicks).
“I was very active from the age of six, especially during primary school days and very interested in many sporting codes. Before karate, my sports were gymnastics, netball and athletics at junior schools. But at high school I was curious to train in karate,” she said.
Motshabi explains: “In karate, you are thoroughly prepared before engaging in any fight, these preparations are done through sparring with your gym partners.”
She recalled her first fight during the national karate championships at the Molopo Sun Hotel in the former Bophuthatswana homeland where she won a bronze medal after imposing several electrifying mawashigeri (foot slaps) on her opponent she identified only as Lydia from Rustenburg. “I still cherish my bronze.
“My family had seen potential in me, hence they afforded me a chance to participate and explore all the sporting codes as I grew up. I had unconditional support from my friends as well, and even at school, something that inspired me to put more dedication and focus into martial arts,” said Motshabi.
On realising her passion for karate, Sensei Mothusi recommended Motshabi for an instructor’s course in 1997 when she was graded with a brown belt and honoured with a Sensei status on her return from competing in Zimbabwe where she excelled, taking six medals, including four gold and two silver for both individual and team performance.
“I was selected as a national coach for the junior karate team that represented the country at the 10th World Karate Championship in Australia in 2006. Our team obtained second position (silver medal) among 163 countries.
Motshabi dreams of having her own dojo and next month, she goes to Tokyo for the annual World Instructors seminar.