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Interview with the Asian Karate Champion, Ambassador of ’Fit India Movement’ Shyamantak Ganguly

Kyokushin Karate came to India in 1977 and Hanshi Shivaji Ganguly, an avid football player and eminent sportsman was drawn to this in 1982 he completed his Shodan and won the 1st runners trophy in Asian Championship in Singapore which highlighted India on the map of Kyokushin karate. He was awarded the 5th Dan in 1991 at the Ugawara Camp in Japan. Now he is the only Indian to have received his 9th Dan Black Belt and also the only Indian to have been appointed the Branch Chief of India by Sosai.

In the inaugural interactive session with Karate Instructor, we have invited Shyamantak Ganguly, the Asian Karate Champion, Ambassador of ’Fit India Movement’ & Da One Sports, 3rd Dan Black belt holder and the son of Hanshi Shivaji Ganguly.

Retro Kolkata : First of all, thanks a lot for accepting our invitation for an interview. it’s a great pleasure to have you as our Guest. Let’s start with the first question. What was your dream since you were a kid? …what would you like to do?

Shyamantak : Since I was a kid, you could say that I used to see my father and brother wear karate uniforms and go for karate training. I always wanted to wear the karate uniform seeing them, so then at the age of 2 or 3, you could say that I wore the karate uniform and went with them to the karate class. I used to sit and see the karate training and slowly interest and passion for karate and combat sports started to grow. I told my father that someday I would surely highlight my country's name on the world map in Full Contact Karate.

Retro Kolkata : When and why did you begin Karate? Did you win tournaments directly from the start?

Shyamantak : At the age of 2 or 3, as my father always said, I wore the dress So I started going to karate class and I started seeing my father Hanshi Shivaji Ganguly and my brother Sensei Shibayan Ganguly.

I didn't win from the beginning. When I started the first few tournaments, I lost but then I started to win. My first junior level big win for my country was in 2008 in Junior Asian Championship in Sri Lanka and from then it is still going on. Winning and losing are part of my journey.

Retro Kolkata : What is Kyokushin karate for you?

Shyamantak : Kyokushin karate is the way of living to me. It has not only taught me kicks and punches, but it has also taught me how to live a proper life and how to be a good human being.

Retro Kolkata : At what age did you get your first dan rank? Can you remember the experience? How was it?

Shyamantak : At the age of 9+, I appeared for my shodan or 1st dan Black belt at Digha in All India Summer camp. I gave the exam with other senior adults and at that age itself, I did all the techniques required for the 1st dan exam which includes 100 each of 5 main kicks and 100 each of each main hand technique,100 squats, kata etc. Being Hanshi Shivaji Ganguly's son he didn't give me any advantage and I am blessed and lucky that he didn't give me any advantage that's why what I am today is only because of him. Big Osu to him.

Retro Kolkata : You are the 5 times national champion, Junior Asian Full Contact Karate Champion, 2nd place holder in the International Championship, Brazil,2019 and 5th place holder in International Dream Cup,2018, South Korea.

Shyamantak : Yes.

Retro Kolkata : Can you describe your favourite experience or memory from competing around the world?

Shyamantak : For me, all are memorable. But the most memorable one is fifth place in South Korea. That's because it was an open-weight tournament, where there were no weight categories. I, being a 73 kg fighter, fought with 90kg and 120 kg fighters as well. When I won fifth place, my father lifted me - not only because I had won, but also because it was after twenty years that India had won an international Trophy in a different country: It was India's first international trophy in the open weight category outside India and I fought and won against a Japanese. So he was just so happy that he lifted me. That day I will not forget.

Retro Kolkata : You are the son of Shri Shivaji Ganguly, the pioneer of Kyokushin Karate in India, you have also dedicated your life to continue the work of your father. What’s the greatest and the most important lesson you`ve learned from your father? Do you pass it to young generations? How do you feel when you train students with your father who is a living legend of Karate?

Shyamantak : He always tells me that success trains and failure complaints. This quote always motivates me, and he also says that there is no alternative to hard work. I always pass that to my students; if they want to be successful in whatever they do, there is no alternative to hard work. It's a different feeling. I feel lucky and blessed that I can teach students with my father."

Retro Kolkata : What would be your advice to anyone thinking of training and competing in Karate?

Shyamantak : If you have a 3 D in life dedication, determination, and discipline in life you can achieve anything in life. You should have the fighting spirit in you and the never give up spirit. In karate knowing new techniques every day is not the key to success but practising the same techniques, again and again, will take you ahead.

Retro Kolkata : You’re not only Asia Champion, but also a great coach. What are some “secrets” to becoming successful as a trainer? How have your teaching methods changed over the years??

Shyamantak : The first thing you need to do when a kid comes to your training center is to bond with him, so that he becomes comfortable and starts sharing his thoughts and likes with you. For that, at first don't force any kid to do karate - just let him do what he wants. If he runs around, run with him. If he sits down, sit with him and try to talk. The moral of the story is that you have to be a kid with a kid in order to understand him better.We focus mainly on the fitness part, with different functional activities, different games and animal walks which they enjoy. For adults, we have to focus on their strengths and make them more strong, as well as work on their weaknesses to make them better.

Retro Kolkata : Do you feel that Karate can change a person and what responsibility does an instructor have to the student?

Shyamantak : Yes, karate can change a lot in a person. I have seen this in many students; some are now graduating from college. The instructor has a lot of responsibilities which they have to remember; because the instructor will be someone the student will follow.

Retro Kolkata : How has karate helped you grow as a person?

Shyamantak : Karate has helped me stay humble every time and has also made me a confident person.

Retro Kolkata : What are some common mistakes you see when people try to practice?

Shyamantak : The common mistakes are they don't have patience and they want to learn all the techniques in 2 days. Don't be in a hurry. Take your time, understand and practice which is very important.

Retro Kolkata : How do you stay motivated and focused to hit your fitness goals?

Shyamantak : Success trains and failure complaints keep me motivated every time.

Retro Kolkata : You are the inspiration for many Karate Sportsmen and women. How do you motivate your students to not give up?

Shyamantak : Whenever we lose, we tend to give up. But you have to remember that every failure is your step to success. Fall seven times, but you have to rise eight times.

Retro Kolkata : Lastly, what’s your hope for the future of Kyokushin Karate and if you could give one final piece of advice to people who want to achieve greatness in Karate, what would it be?

Shyamantak : Kyokushin karate is not only about fighting or sports. Kyokushin karate will help you change your life.


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