The Travellers Magazine recently meets with Sensei Imolemitan and he takes us on a journey into the world of karate.
Could you introduce yourself sir?
My name is Sensei Ojo Olusegun Imolemitan, I am a 4th Dan black belta in karate and a member of Shitoryu Karate Association of Nigeria (SKAN). I am also a medical practitioner with speciality in Haematology and blood group serology. I am a graduate of the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University, Ambrose Alli University and the University of Lagos.
I am married with three wonderful boys, I am from Erin Ijesha in Osun State.
What is karate and how did you get into it?
Karate is a Japanese word: “Kara and te’ Kara means empty and te means hand, therefore karate is the art of self defence using empty hand. I started learning karate when I was in junior secondary school two.
I started with my Dad who was a senior police officer and a karateka before I met my Sensei. Sensei Roberts Ajibulu of blessed memory. I have represented the Obafemi Awolowo University in NUGA and Waug games
Why did you go into karate and what is the importance of karate to the community?
Karate is a special and an important art. I do not want to call it sport, although it is a sport but I will call it an art because it is a way of life. All sports have retirement age but karate does not; you get better as you grow older. Your speed might reduce but the skills and technicalities of the art will always be there.
Like I said earlier that karate is the art of self defence using empty hand, meaning you do not need weapon to defend yourself ant any point in time. The only karate weapon is nunchaka or nunchus for short, that is what you people normally call dragon. It is assumed that your body is your weapon.
The importance of karate in the community are numerous. Firstly, it gives you confidence, endurance, self esteem, respect for self and others, skeleto neuromuscular coordination and most importantly, the ability to defend yourself in the face of danger especially in our present day country. It is also important for the girl child.
At what age can someone join the karate class?
There is no age limitations in karate. The earlier the better, at least age two or three. My son, Juwon started karate at the age of two, he is five now and he is getting better every day. He is a gree belta now.
Where is the body in Nigeria? Is there any chapter in Ogun State or elsewhere?
Yes, the body in Nigeria is Karate Federation of Nigeria (KFN). We also have different bodies regulating different styles. The body regulating my style is SKAN, headed by Hanshi Lucky. The headquarters is at the National Stadium, Lagos.
What is the acceptance level of karate because most people do not know its importance. So tell them why it is important to practice karate.
Well, karate is one of the best sports you can engage in, because for other art you can train with weapon but not in Karate and like I said earlier, karate is important for so many reasons. It gives you agility; you are smart, you think and react to situations fast. It also enhances your cognitive learning. It helps to improve you academically too as you tend to assimilates father and better at remembering what you are thought
A karate practioner can not be timid. It instills discipline and patience in its practioners.
Self defence and sensitivity. Your reflex time would be low.
As a karate instructor, what have you been able to do to encourage the sport in schools?
Well, it is a pity that we live in a country where people do not appreciate certain things that can save us from things when the time comes. It is only few elites that took it upon themselves to educate their children in martial art
We have been to different schools in Ogun State. The bottom line is that you always meet with discouragement.
Is there any support from the government?
Have you made any move maybe to the governor, ministry of sports or local government chairman?
As a matter of fact, two years ago we tried to organise a competition and we went to the state house in Abeokuta to see commissioner for sports who embraced the idea but could not assist us.
Have you been using the media and social media to publicise?
Yes, I have been using the media
With your experience, where has karate taken you to?
Taking karate has benefited me a lot. When I was in school, I played hockey and did karate which gave me an edge because I never paid for accommodation from my year one to my final year. Also during camps and competitions, the school paid us. When we had international competitions like the West Africa University Games, we were also paid.
I also know people that have masters degrees and have done their PhD to who did not write JAMB but because they were athletes and the school needs them, they offered them admission so they could play for the school.
How many countries have you been to?
About three; South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ghana
How many medals have you won?
I have many medals and as young as my boys are , they also have won many medals.
What are the programmes for the year by the karate bodies?
At the national level, the National Sports Festival was cancelled but we have a number of programmes among which one would be coming up in Ogun State.