At a school in the slums of Rajasthan / India
|A Report by Bernd Höhle,
MjrGen CSLI and Commander in Chief of SoF
“Martial Artists – Without Borders” is a part of the “Martial Artists with a Heart” initiative of SOF & the Martial Arts Association – International in cooperation with The Children’s Fund.
These visits to schools and homes in poor areas (in Nepal, Africa, the Philippines and India so far) give an insight into martial arts through demonstrations. Martial Arts is, in addition to the joy of sport, also an excellent character developer, it forms, inter alia, discipline, respect, tolerance and self-confidence thus motiving self-help. In summary, it is therefore about joy, sport & character training.
In addition, we try to create the opportunity to establish permanent martial arts on site in the institution. In this too we succeeded in this School.
At first glance the building does not seem to be a High School & Junior College and the school uniforms conceal something – the school children/pupils come from very poor circumstances. We were able to visit a teacher and a student and were very shocked at the poor conditions in which they lived with their families.
At the school we were ceremonially received by the Executive Board to a drum and timpani accompaniment. Hundreds of pupils in ranks were drawn up for our arrival. All waited anxiously, quiet as mice, until Bernd Höhle, Head of Delegation, raised his hands in the customary greeting pose and saluted all present with “Namaste” which unlocked the pupils’ throats to chorus the greeting back.
The Vice Director, Janardan Mhatre, greeted us with flowers. He sincerely thanked us for our visit. Then there was a welcome serenade by a group of young pupils. The Deputy Director introduced the MAA as an association and the project “Martial Artists – Without Borders” in a lengthy speech. Then Bernd Höhle spoke and handed the Director a certificate of thanks for promoting this Project.
Afterwards martial arts demonstrations were given accompanied by much cheering, applause and beaming faces from students and teachers. The whole demonstration was done once in the morning for the younger pupils and again in the afternoon for the older students. It was a great experience to see and feel the joy and excitement that gripped them. We were able to agree to a request from the Director that a representative of the MAA will give regular martial arts training for local school master Manoj Kumar Gautam. This was followed by a tour of the classrooms and presentation of guest Gifts.
My thanks go to the other members of the delegation: Master Babak P. Saviz, Marcel Nickel and Marcel Behrendsen.