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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.: +47 92525032
June 16, 2016
HOME AT LAST! Part 23
WALOBA AWARD 2015
Diaspora Friendship, Brotherly Love Celebration
To introduce the recipient of Waloba Award 2015, I take the liberty of reproducing an edited version of my speech to him on his 50th birthday earlier in 2015:
- You don’t know what it’s like
To love somebody
To love a Brother
The way I love you …
- Modern, enlightened, liberated men happily declare their love for one another openly even if their love is not of a physically intimate nature. Some call it Bromance. In any case, in South Africa, land of the free, home of the brave, people love who they love, as provided for, and enshrined in the constitution of the land.
- I’ve heard it said somewhere that if you are not grown up yet by age 50, forget it, you’ll never grow up … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA AWAKENING – home in grey matter”. Order book on Amazon).
June 26, 2015
Chilembo Warrior Moves Karate • Development, hereafter CWM, is my safe home base playground. It begins and ends with me. Only I could make CWM for myself. In CWM I do what I have to do, play what I have to play without my inadequacies becoming an impediment for the expression of my overall creative potential. I play my freedom mind games without fear or favour here. CWM is an own platform for the unfolding of my visions, manifesting my values, beliefs, and faith both in thought and action. It encapsulates the story of my life; my past, my present, and charts the course into my future.
I use CWM as a tool to help me make sense of my reality. It helps me structure my thoughts; it helps me to focus. I withdraw into CWM to find answers and meanings to things and events. This is a realm in which I come out of myself for internal dialogues and reflections with myself. My alter ego is my best conversation partner.
My strengths, my strong sense of independence, my free spirit, my rebelliousness, my will to survive, my self-confidence, my innovativeness, my tenacity, my sense of fairness and justice, my ethics, my empathy, are all written on the entire space that is CWM. I walk, and I live my name. Chilembo will contextually mean that which is written down/ the written word/ handwriting/ scripture.
The CWM logo tells it all:
- The book represents the solid intellectual and academic knowledge foundation upon which CWM is based. Education is paramount; it is an imperative.
- The shield represents the protecting and defending roles and functions of a warrior. The Chilembo Warrior moves to protect himself and his own with love and compassion, all in the name of peace, fairness, and justice for all.
- The CWM mind is in a healthy body. Karate training and teaching over a period of 40 years has made my body very strong; has taught me to love and respect life. However, if I have to fight evil I will always aim for the heart. Whatever method I use, I’ll be sharp and precise like a warrior spear.
- Karate has been an invaluable personal development tool for me. It has taught me the value and essence of teaching, leading, coaching, guiding, and mentoring others. Karate has given me a taste of child upbringing. I have had the entire spectrum of life experience in my Karate endeavours, from love through victory to betrayal. Karate has made me whole.
When I have now retired after 35 years of active Karate teaching, and I no longer own or run a club of my own anywhere, CWM will keep me going strong forever. CWM provides the magic carpet rides that will help maintain and sustain the long-existing bonds between my students, colleagues, friends, as well as my teachers and I.
As my students have now taken over the running of my former two clubs in Norway, I cruise around on CWM carpet rides feeling like a proud old man enjoying the pleasure of seeing his children and grandchildren carrying on with Warrior work towards enlightenment through Karate. There’s nothing as good as good history repeating itself. I’ll always be available on consultant basis if and when my students wish to ride with me on the CWM magic carpet of constant innovation and fresh thinking. And for an indefinite period, out of current practical considerations, my engagement with my international Karate affiliations will be limited. But I’m definitely on board.
In my CWM magic carpet cruises all over the world I will, both impromptu and upon request, issue CWM certificates of recognition to practicing and retired Karateka, as well as friends of Karate and the Martial Arts in general.
Tel.: +47 92525032
August 15, 2012
A DISCOURSE ON SACRIFICE
The difference between donation and sacrifice is the outcome of the trade-off between or among relative values. I donate excess value the disappearance or lack of which will cause no harm to, or reduce, my sense of self-worth and/ or well-being; I donate when “I got more than I asked for, (and) there ain’t nothin’ I need…”
When I by conscious choice or otherwise give away all or part of what I have of material and/ or subjective value for what I consider to be of greater good than my ego considerations, I make a sacrifice.
I share when I am indifferent to personal gain or loss to the extent that that which I endeavour to give a part of, or parts thereof, to someone/ others, or a cause is such that its value neither diminishes nor grows when I have, and hang on to it all by and for myself alone.
I donate, I share; and carry on with my life, living happily ever after. It is the application of sacrifice in practice which has been a major area of fascination in my youth and subsequent adult years.
We must have been in Form 4 (Grade 11) when one day in 1980 our then Chemistry teacher at Kamwala Secondary School, the ever affable Mr Mehta, brought an elderly visitor from India to our class. The latter gentleman not only came to greet us, but he gave us an inspirational talk about, if I recall, growing up, education, and leadership. I now understand that the man was a spiritual leader visiting some of his disciples in Zambia at that time.
I recall him emphasizing that we should take it for granted that we were all in the class going to be highly educated and influential in society as adults, filling up all key positions in all aspects of societal organization, as well as development. We were all going to be top doctors, engineers, scientists, business people, military generals, politicians, etc. And, given our potential future influence, owing to our apparent superior individual and collective brain power, we were all destined to be very, very wealthy; we would have the biggest houses, the flashiest cars, and the most beautiful families.
I have always been optimistic about a prosperous future full of all material trappings of financial success and power for myself. However, that day, I got this awesome mind picture of my classmates and I as having become the strongest and best ever rulers and power brokers of the world when grown up. The imagery was so intense and seemed so real that I to this day become hot and moist in my hands whenever I think about it.
I must have come to when I heard the Guru asked, “But what is all this education, wealth, power, and influence about then?” I imagine we were all so mesmerized by this man that no one in the class found the breath to say a word. He told us, I recall, that it was all about the responsibility to share with others who may not be as lucky and privileged as ourselves.
He went on to say that in essence we become educated, wealthy, and powerful in order to serve society, starting with our smaller family units and immediate communities. This is so, the man argued further that … (Continued in the book: “MACHONA BLOGS – As I See It”. Order Simon Chilembo books on Amazon)
June 17, 2012
(Dedicated to my Karate students everywhere)