STEPHEN CHAN’S PIONEERING ROLE IN ZAMBIAN KARATE
Accomplishments and Impact in the Transformation of Martial Arts Culture
- This article is in response to a request by my friend and Martial Arts brother, Raymond Mbazima, Sensei, in June 2016, “Could you do a write-up of Professor Stephen Chan Sensei’s Pioneering Role in Zambia – in particular what he accomplished and his impact in the transformation of martial arts culture?”
- The article is an honest account of events as best as my memory serves me. I must apologize in advance for any inaccuracies, or misunderstandings that might arise. The names of the various people mentioned in the article are done so with but only respect and the fondest of memories. I’ll be failing if I didn’t acknowledge many of them as having helped mould the kind of man I am today, both inside and outside the dojo. None of them is directly responsible for my madness, though.
- Regarding the main subject of the article, Stephen Chan, the tone the article has taken is as it emerged from my heart, without fear or favour. That, in line with how my mind has interpreted the execution of his Martial Arts teacher and Godfather role towards me over the years; in four countries, Zambia, UK, Norway, and South Africa.
I have never felt that Stephen was compelled to work with me, neither have I ever felt that I was unduly expected to feel indebted to him for all that he has done for me. Therefore, I am under no obligation, I have no pressing need to aspire to sanctify, or flatter him. There is nothing egotistical to gain, nor intended to.
All this I shall summarize in Stephen’s own words in a correspondence pertaining to the article, “I do hope it is a lot more to do with mutual respect and camaraderie. I always pitched in with you on the floor – so we all suffered together.”
The article here initially covers the years 1981-85, a period of my first ever direct observation of Stephen’s physical presence, and martial arts work in Zambia. It will partially describe my personal experience of training and studying Karate with him as my Sensei at the UNZA Karate Club (UKC) in Lusaka. Little did I ever think then that thirty-five years on, the special student-master relationship would still be going strong; not only with me, but with many others of my generation the world over.
Following Stephen’s footsteps as a diverse collective spread across many parts of the world, the at least five generations of top-flight Karateka my contemporaries and I have produced continue to grow and benefit from his profound knowledge of, and love for the Martial Arts. Above all, perhaps, his broader love for, and service to humanity through his exemplary professional work and career continue to inspire many of us.
Secondly, the years 1986-88 are, in my opinion and personal experience, the period in which the relevance of Stephen’s impact on me would be tested to the limit. It would also test the unity and commonality of purpose in the then Seidokan Zambia core group he had developed at UKC.
Furthermore, this period would, by extension, define whether Stephen’s legacy in Zambian Karate would live on or not. I dare say that the modern Jindokai Zambia/ Zimbabwe family we have today can trace their roots to specifically that period. Had we at UKC failed to keep it together during those two years, the Zambian martial arts scene would have swallowed up Stephen Chan’s legacy for good, I am convinced.
It may be safe to say that Stephen’s work in the wider martial arts fraternity, within and outside the then Zambia Karate Federation (ZKF)’s framework, raised awareness of, and interest in the arts to unprecedented levels in the country. The man was, after all, the nearest living thing to Bruce Lee the people ever saw, came close to, touched, and spoke to.
Stephen made a striking presence on Television Zambia (TVZ)’s Sports Review shows, speaking, as Dennis Liwewe once said, “… fantabulous, beautiful English, indeed!”
The late Dennis Liwewe became a legend already in his own time as a passionate radio and TV sports commentator. If President Kaunda was Zambia’s football number one fan, Dennis Liwewe was in a class of his own as maestro supremo football commentator … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
Simon Chilembo, 6th Dan
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 16, 2016
Thinking about it as a grown up man, I’ve found that in my social interactions at all levels, I am driven by only two concepts: fairness and justness. The thesaurus lists the two as synonymous. Operationally, though, I take the liberty of applying “fairness” in relation to the good-bad duality; and “justness” to that of right-wrong.
I postulate, therefore, that if it is fair, it is good. It is uplifting. It is praiseworthy.
If it is unfair, it is bad. It is devious. It is condemnable.
If it is just, it is right. It is life supporting. It is revered.
If it is unjust, it is wrong. It is destructive. It is punishable.
When it comes to my friends, I have found fairness playing itself out in how they have accepted me in the way that I am. They have also allowed me to open doors into my life for them, equally accepting them for what and how they are. With the very closest of my friends, the mutuality of respect for one another’s strengths and fallibilities keeps me awake at night some times. It fills me with ever so much joy.
I have found justness playing itself out in hard times, especially.
It is the constant awareness of inter-personal fairness that keeps the love for my friends alive. Fairness constantly sensitizes me to elements of respect, tolerance, and moral codes cementing our friendship. These elements then extend to form the core of the interplay of justness as we all face and seek to overcome the intrinsic daily challenges of life, working either individually or collectively … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 16, 2017
IT CAME TO PASS
It has been one year, one month, three and half weeks since I posted the last blog article. Since then, some of the most predominant happenings in my world are as follows:
- I have written and published my second and third books
▫ Machona – Emigrant
▫ Machona Awakening – Home in Grey Matter
The fourth book manuscript is off to the editor. Working on the final touches of the fifth book. In my head, plot incubation period of the sixth book is over; getting in the works soon.
- My extended writing sabbatical continues. My creative asylum is burning hot with inspiration.
- International Big Business ambitions have burnt me once again. But, I have fallen so many times before that I’ve sustained no scars at all this time. My resilience has never been any higher. I have never been happier. Be it known that I am far from finished. If ever.
- I have made two short visits to Lusaka, Zambia. Met my people. Flesh and bones of my fathers made me ever so happy and proud. Lusaka Karateka gave me a warm welcome; allowed me to rescind my retirement from international Karate practice and teaching with them. Life is good.
- The distances between a few of my old personal relationships have grown wider. One or two old relationships have taken a dive. Good riddance. Breathing has never been easier. I can see clearly now. My soul is free.
- Key old relationships just keep growing stronger. I got more than I asked for here. Gratitude, humility are the names of my game.
- New relationships have only been a blessing. To love and be loved in return is a wonderful thing. Love is the power.
- The UK took Brexit, leaving modern Western civilization shaken to the core. Shocking. International solidarity thrown into the English backyard … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
Tel.: +27 81318 5271
June 01, 2017
- From an independent and private position I find it imperative upon, and within incumbent South African President Jacob Zuma’s prerogative to now step down and resign. By that, he will be preserving whatever little honour as a leader and noble citizen of the land he has left. Moreover, he will be saving the country much international diplomacy and business ridicule and embarrassment.
My imploring JZ to step down and resign is inconsequential of whether I like him or not. Manifestation of any lack of respect for an elder and leader in accordance with “… it’s our African culture!” is of no relevance here either. My stand is based on impersonal well-thought out critical thinking leadership principles and philosophy.
- Watching how the once most revered African National Congress/ ANC and its loyal structures defend the indefensible in President Zuma’s already long tarnished beyond repair image and reputation as a national leader is a fascinating endeavour.
It’s like hopelessly watching a woman I dearly love slowly drugging herself to death on a daily basis. With every new temporary abstinence killing shoot, she has gone beyond believing; she deliberately defies logic and reason. She ever irrationally convinces herself in vain that the new shot would be the very last and most decisive to fix and put everything back in place again once and for all. On and on till she drops dead.
Perhaps with death comes freedom from self-deception … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
April 07, 2016
I am in love with myself, deeply so. I love myself more than I love anybody or any other thing else, much more than I love my women, my Rolexes, and my Mercedeses.
My parents, my siblings, my children from other fathers, my brothers and sisters from other mothers, my teachers, and my God do not come into the picture here; for them the love is supreme. It is because of the great love I have for me that I can have the awesome capacity to love I happen to posses.
In my private moments, I thoroughly convince myself that I am the greatest thing called man to ever walk the face of the earth; for all times. I am the best there is anywhere on planet earth. Beyond planet earth I really do not care much about.
Spielberg tried with ET, The Extra Terrific. It didn’t work. What a most unhandsome guy! He still charms the world, though. #SIAFA-Secretly I am a Fan™. But I’m still the best. Nevertheless, could I have chosen, I know for sure that I would have come out a totally different man. Perhaps still as overly narcissistic and with the same love I have for my people, as well as my opulent life-style play things, but very different all the same.
Given the hard realities of life as a Black man in a hard world, a Black man born and raised in the hot bed of anti-Black racism Apartheid South Africa, if prior to my conception I could have chosen my parents, they most certainly would have been of White aristocracy class in, say, England. And I would have been born in North London somewhere, say, Chorleywood.
That would have been real cool. I would have chosen to be tall and slender, say, 2m. My body would have been one of those which respond well to physical exercise training, such that I would go strutting around with the neatest and perfectly ribbed sex-pack, above which would be the finest sculptured chest and the most perfect squared broadest shoulders. My hair would be David Bowie blond, of course. Never mind he hailed from South London. London is London. Blond is blond, and we have more fun. That’s just the way it is.
It would have been real nice to have been White by choice and became part of the most powerful people on earth, both for the bad and the good. But then again, I became, I am Black. How it would turn out to be that my parents would be Black and African in Africa I have no idea of; and I really do not care much about that. For I am Black, I am. I did not, I never, not that I could ever, choose to be Black. Black is the nature of me, the nature of my being, with all my bad and good attributes, as well as my strengths. I have no time for weaknesses. I remain the proudest Black man I know. But, to be honest, I could have been spared the Black curse.
I am short, chubby with a pot belly, and black as coal. I have a flat nose, have a roundish face, have short curly black hair, I have small ears, have little body hairs, have a sickeningly inflated ego. I have loads of physical and mental endurance. I have a huge appetite for food and the good life.
I am independent, I am creative, I am emotional, I am my parents’ first child together, and, oh, I am a heterosexual man with profound love for women. These qualities of and about me I do not recall ever choosing, or making a conscious pre-order of, they were pre-packaged in my parents’ sexual reproductive cells.
It’s called genetics work, through which a thing called DNA will be understood to be, and contains the intrinsic truth about me, where I come from, and where I am likely to end up as a consequence of my all-round inherent personal attributes.
I popped out of my mother’s birthing organ predestined to be the kind of man and person I am today. It’s all in my DNA. I can, of course, if and when necessary, with relative ease make and learn to live with cosmetic and behavioural changes to suit, and adapt to changing and changed circumstances, but that can never change the real essence of my being; who I am, and what I am. Once the reproductive cells fusion is done, the DNA is signed, sealed, and delivered; that’s me in full from cradle to the grave. So is everyone else, really. That’s being human for you … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
March 03, 2016
CANNOT BE RIGHT
At this very moment
In Aleppo City of Syria
Have just rained down
In claimed pursuit of Daesh
Little Sarah’s body
Is shred to pieces
Little Abdullah’s body
Is by waves of fire
Charred to ashes
And goes up
With smoke and bloody dusts of war
It’s all hallucinations
If this is his willing
He’s not so great anymore
May the next bomb
Land on us
Please, please, please
They with soundless voices
Wail in agonized helplessness
With tearless ducts like Madiba’s
Wishing there were
Wi-Fi broadband to Allah
At this very moment
In parents’ arms
For Western freedom and peace
At the bed
Of the Mediterranean Sea
The bombs had missed them
Overloaded their escape boat
To breathe under water
More horrified by
The sound of
Tonnes of sea water
Pressing densely into their ears
Than any bombing’s
It’s just as well
Wi-Fi broadband to God
Ever cried under water
At this very moment
I cry with grief
‘Cause I’m broke
As in Bankrupt
Valentine’s Day tomorrow
I’ll lose yet another woman I love
‘Cause I don’t have any money
To call her on the phone
Buy her a romantic present
I don’t have money
To call my mother
To say, ‘I love you!’
For like to Allah
Wi-Fi broadband into my father’s grave
If I had money
I’d call my younger father
To also say, ‘I love you, Dad!’
Old, faded, tattered clothes
On my body
‘Cause I haven’t had any money
To buy new clothes
The start of
The Syrian war
At that time
Somebody said to me
Tsk, tsk, tsk, ignorant you
Conflict is healthy
Conflict is the essence of human progress
And I said to him
Does Assad really think
He’ll ever crush the opposition
The ill-informed wise man
I’m a fool
So, it’s okay
I can stay broke
Till there are
No more people
Till there’s nothing left
To genocide for
For human progress
At this very moment
I cry Europe
Have defied the bombs
Have defied the seas
Have arrived alive
At your shores
Show them what humanity is all about
Independent of what Allah wills
It can’t be right
To deny them
The sweet taste of
Liberty and peace
It can’t be right
That I stand here
And cry for money
For telephones and new clothes
In parents’ arms
Cry for life
At the bottom
Of the sea
At this very moment
I cry for hope
Fuck the money
Fuck the war
©Simon Chilembo, 13/ 02- 2016
Tel.: +27 717 454 115
February 13, 2016