I not only train in self defense, but also build self confidence

The road to success is not easy to navigate,
 but with hard work, drive and passion, 
it is easy to achieve our dreams. 

“I belong to a place where, even today girls are not allowed to pursue higher studies. My family was no different. I too, was not allowed to study and I was well aware of the consequences if I agreed to my family. But, I was determined not to be just another girl of my village and fall slave to any man and his family. I had dreams, what I only needed was a way to pursue them,” said Mana Mandlekar, Karate champion.

Having secured a bronze for India at the Asian Games Karate Championship, Manna aims to change the perspective of the society towards girls. Talking to Newscrust in an informal conversation, she spills some beans on how her life has changed after she pursued Karate.

The Beginning...

I did my schooling from a Government Hindi Medium School where we couldn’t learn any sport activity because of the absence of proper resources and guides. It was in 2013, after I joined college, I started learning Karate. I also learnt Judo and played Judo at the University level. Even then, my interest still remained in Karate. I love playing Judo and wrestling, but decided to take up on Karate professionally. I simultaneously continued with my studies and have completed my master’s degree last year in Political Science from Timarni Government College, breaking through the social norms of my hometown.

Practice makes man perfect, and I practiced Karate till I mastered every move. Its’ been six years and I can see myself transforming from a learner to a trainer to a motivational speaker. Initially, my family did not support me, but now, they have become my pillars.

Every individual has their primary choices and as a kid, I too had some so far as sports is concerned. “When I was in school I used to play Cricket a lot but with almost no opportunities to learn it, no coach we were left with no choice but not to opt it. If I knew that I would become a sportsperson someday I would have either chosen Cricket or Running. But Karate completes me and I want to dedicate my whole life to it.”

 The Struggle...

Recalling her struggling days she says, “The first tournament that I participated in was federation national tournament in which I won silver then in next tournaments I played on division level from my college in which I lost the matches consecutively for two years. I then played on district division in Hoshangabad, then state level in Indore, than nationals in Sehore and Barwaha then I participated in International tournament in Kathmandu, Nepal in which I won gold medal and recently won bronze in International level tournament organised in Delhi. Actually I’ve won medals in almost all the matches I participated in.”   

But only playing and winning medals do not suffice her. She wants to contribute to the society and in this attempt she has been a part of many social events. “I was working on a project called ‘The Unique Fighter’ in which we trained people with Karate which made them a fighter in a unique way. We were also working for child rights, violence against women and working for how to end these kind of practices, so we used to educate women and children with self defence and rejoined them to school and college. Actually, we trained people with not only self-defence but also with self-confidence so that they can know their strength and be ready to fight fearlessly not only in the ring but also in any circumstances of life like our personal tensions, family tensions and decision making, basically we were making people ready for different kind of situations of life.”

“Recently I won a bronze medal in Asian Games Karate Championship 2018 and it took me 6 years to reach there. That was a wonderful experience where I represented my country and also won for it. Although, I wanted to earn the gold medal for India and for that I will continue to work hard and try hard to win it.”

Talking on the limitations she faces in achieving her dreams she adds, “The Italian player Federica Raffaello to whom I lost the game, was looking very well-prepared, attractive and was energetic like she practices all day. And here I was who can only practice once in day only for an hour. Even if I and other girls desire to practice more there is no place for us to do so. We can only practice in the girl’s school after 5:30pm and we are allowed to practice only for an hour and other than that there is no ground or place where we can practice in a daytime. And that’s why I was feeling inferior as I was at a big platform with less practice. But still I managed to win bronze.”

Stepping stones to success...

Now that I am professional in karate I want to build an academy in Timarni solely for self-defence where I will teach other girls and pull their fears out so that can they can look after themselves.

Last year I was invited to share stage with Mitali Raj and Sachin Tendulkar on the occasion of International Girl Child Day, after that I was much highlighted because before that only those who loved sports or those who liked karate knew me, but after sharing the stage with them I got much attention and people started recognizing me and my work as well. After this incident I got a call from TEDx so I became a TEDx speaker.”

I not only play karate I live it. It has become such a major part of my life that it has provided me the way to live my life. It made me do the social work, like I run an organisation ‘Tinka Social Institute’ in which the drop out girls who have had left their education because of some reasons get training of self defence and the organization helps them to join the school and college again. Also there are tribal communities where some the children do not get to go to school and some couldn’t get the proper school education and they are deprived of it, so the organisation helps them in joining the school.

There are moments which are very special to me and close to my heart, one such magic moment was winning gold medal at the ‘international Karate championship’ this year. It was beyond my expectations because it was my first international match and winning gold medal there was like a dream come true. And that moment inspires me to win gold in every tournament I take part in.

I will be playing in the world championship that will happen in Paris next year so I will be preparing for that and its registrations will be open in January 2019 and I am also looking forward to build a school for ‘sports education’ where I would give better training to the girls.

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  1. Thank you so much for my story .
    I need your help for make my sports education school.so please help me .
    Thank you so much.