Rwanda Karate Federation (FERWAKA) has thanked the Japanese embassy for improving the quality of Karate sport in the country and beyond borders.
FERWAKA President, Damien Niyongabo said that through the donation of karate mats from the embassy, the sport has improved in its quality and the uptake has seen a growth up to an estimated 7,000- to 10,000 players in the country.
“The love for karate is mostly among youth and it is growing day by day in primary, secondary schools and university,” Niyongabo said while remembering days when they used to play on bare ground.
“Karate has contributed in creating good leaders and citizenship whereby we have Karatekas (karate members) in all sectors,” Niyongabo said.
He revealed that Karate members are spread among high profile leaders including some members of cabinet, generals in the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF), the National Police, doctors, professors and engineers among others.
“We thank the Japanese culture of Karate in creating good leaders in the country,” Niyongabo noted at the Ambassador’s Cup Karate Tournament 2024 on February 10th.
The annual competition is organized by the Embassy of Japan in Rwanda in collaboration with FERWAKA.
This year’s event was held at Gymnasium, Notre-Dame des Anges Primary School in Remera sector, Kigali city where crowds enjoyed the heated competition of Japanese martial art as performed by Rwandans of ages in the Kata and Kumite categories (for both female and male) team eliminations.
Isao Fukushima, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Rwanda said that he was grateful to be part of the competition (in 15th century traditional martial arts) which brings many Rwandans in large numbers.
Fukushima said that Karate has since developed and been popularized to grow from a simple combat technique of self-defense to a way of self-development trough daily training.
The ambassador used the opportunity to remind the players about the Japan Karate Federation Charter which underlines that those who practice Karate should endeavor to cultivate ethical norms such as courtesy, sense of justice, morality, self-control and courage.
“This is what makes Japanese martial arts different from western sports and attracting many people around the world,” Fukushima said, the charter emphasizes that Karate begins with a courtesy and ends with a courtesy,”
Fukushima thanked the local federation for popularizing the art of Karate and hoped that it becomes a link between the people of Rwanda and Japan to contribute to further strengthening of the relationship between the two countries.
2024 Tournament Results:
In the TEAM KATA category- Agahozo Karate Club won the women’s gold medal, followed by The Great Warriors with a silver medal; and in the men’s category – Kesa – kayenzi Karate Do won gold followed by The Champions Sport Academy (silver).
In the TEAM KUMITE category- The Great Warriors Karate do won gold in the female category followed by The Champions Sport Academy, while The Great Warriors Karate Academy won the gold in the men’s category followed by The Champions Sport Academy (Silver).
Overall Table Standing witnessed The Great Warriors dominating with two golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze; followed by Agahozo Karate Club, Kesa – Kayenzi Karate Do, The Champions Sport Academy and Zanshin Karate Academy among the top five.
Developing Beyond Rwanda:
Karate Federation in Rwanda started in 2008 with their first president, Theogene Uwayo, who since then initiated collaborations with the Japanese Embassy in Rwanda to promote the game locally.
The embassy has been inviting different Karate coaches from Japan to help local talents improve their level of performance.
In 2021, former FERWAKA president Uwayo received from the Emperor of Japan an award of ‘The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver ray’, in recognition of his commitment to the promotion of Karate in Rwanda.
Rwanda managed to get medals from each of the three competitors at the 2022 Zone 5 competitions- UFAK Eastern Region Karate Championship held in Nairobi – Kenya from May 16-21. This all-men National Karate Team dominated the competition winning 3 gold medals and 1 silver medal.
Among the young ones, Rwanda has shaped 11 talents that have taken part in the 11th edition of the WUKF World Karate Championship held in Dundee, Scotland, from July 13-16, 2023.
The competition, which features Karate players from all age categories, exposed the young Rwandan Karatekas to battling for medals against the rest of the world.
Also Rwanda become the first East African country to host the All Africa Karate championship- held from August 28- September 2, 2018 at Intare Conference Arena, located in the outskirts of Kigali city in Rusororo – Gasabo district.
The 2018 edition hosted over 20 nations, in the senior and junior’s categories, making it the first ever biggest number of participating countries in the continental tourney. This annual event had been hosted by several African countries in the Western and Southern blocs but not within the EAC region.
Also in 2018, Rwanda won its first ever gold medal at the 17th edition an African Junior Karate Championships in Kigali in September attracting more than 300 fighters from 25 countries. Rwanda’s Maic Shyaka Ndutiye, 17, faced Egyptian Amr Alaa Abokora in the men’s 55 kg category, winning his first gold medal in East Africa.
In 2022, Ferwaka, in collaboration with the Ministry of Sports commenced activities to promote open martial arts training in schools with the objective of increasing the number of female participation under the national project dubbed “Martial Arts Open School in Rwanda”
The project is implemented in collaboration with the International Centre of Martial Arts for Youth Development and Engagement under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) with the intent of both promoting karate and instilling Olympic values (excellence, respect, and friendship) among Rwandan students.