The Trocano Araretama is a rainforest conservation project in Borba, Brazil, that focuses on social, biodiversity and carbon benefits. To ensure a true understanding of the way of life in Borba, frequent visits to the project area are essential. Here, Seán Greif recounts the journey to a social project to a Karate club in January 2014.
Day 3: Today was an exciting day, as we had planned to visit the much talked about Karate club in Borba. The Karate club is a source of real pride in the town, so it was a privilege to go and see it in action. I hopped on the back of Goiano’s motorbike and we took to the narrow streets of Borba once again.
As we wound our way down one of the many dirt roads in a neighbourhood at the back of the town, we stopped suddenly, sending up a cloud of dust, to ask directions from an elderly priest. He was a European man who had spent many years in Borba and was held in high regard around the town for all the social work he had done improving the lives of many of the locals. His face lit up just at the mention of the Karate Club and he told us where we might find them at that time.
Following the priests directions, we soon came upon the group. There were about thirty young kids, all of whom beamed with a curious enthusiasm at my entrance. I introduced myself to Alciléia, the president of the club, who was training the kids at the time. She explained to me that the kids needed three elements to participate in the club; good grades at school, good manners at home and good behaviour outside of the club. She also explained about the club’s needs, the competitions and the social benefits of such a club.
After my introduction, Alciléia instructed the kids to put on a fearsome display, which by any standards was a show of absolute athleticism. Even the youngest of the group demonstrated formidable technique. It was truly impressive to see such energy & enthusiasm against all the difficulties a karate club based in the middle of the Amazon would face.
The Fenix Karate Project aims to use sport to promote the social development of children & teenagers in Borba. In addition to practicing Karate, the athletes also participate in workshops that discuss the importance of education in shaping the moral character of an individual. The Dojo Kun, the five philosophical teachings of Karate, are also widely taught. They are: to strive for perfection of character; to defend the path of truth; to cultivate the spirit of perseverance; to honor the principles of etiquette; and to guard against impetuous courage. “Despite being a sport that requires contact, agility and strength, Karate is a body defense technique that does not preach violence, but mental balance,” said Alciléia de Almeida, the president of the project.
Wellington Gabriel is 13 years-old and has been practicing Karate for eight months. He shared with us some of what the classes have taught him so far: “I have learned to have more responsibility and discipline, as well as making the right decisions and taking my studies seriously. By practicing Karate, I also stay away from drugs and crime” he said.
The project has achieved excellent results in championships held both in the state of Amazonas & in Brazil. In 2013, students of the club were crowned champions in eight categories of the Amazonas Cup. They also brought home four gold and two silver medals at the first round of the Brazilian Karate Championship, as well as one gold, one silver and one bronze medal in the second stage. At the end of March of this year, the project won in 18 categories in the Second Manaus Open of Karate, where they finished in second place in the Amazonas.
Susan da Silva, the vice president of the project, believes that with more support, they have the potential to create world champions. “Although we live in the countryside of the Amazonas State, our expectations for the future are high. We have Rosely Pantoja, a qualified instructor, and high-level athletes, but unfortunately we only have the financial support of the Municipality to help with transporting our athletes to championships. It is our dream to have a proper structure and equipment for the development of this art, “she said.
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