Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”— Bruce Lee
Karate is one of the oldest martial arts and Bruce Lee was one of the greatest martial artists. The City of Joy has its own Bruce Lee — Prahlad Sardar, a resident of South Kolkata’s Baghajatin area, who has been continuously bagging gold and silver medals at prestigious karate championships. But his journey has not been easy. Coming from an underprivileged background and living in a slum, he had to overcome several hurdles to reach the milestones.
Prahlad’s father used to be a rickshaw puller, however, due to ill health, he could not continue. So Sardar had to take responsibility of his family. From selling sugar cane juice to delivering newspapers every morning to selling chicken, he has done several odd jobs to support his family. “I knew that these small jobs wouldn’t make my future bright, so I decided to explore sports, more specifically martial arts,” he says. As a young boy, Sardar had heard a lot about Bruce Lee. “What I thought is that if Bruce Lee could do it, why couldn’t I,” says the youngster. From there on, Sardar decided to learn karate. He started learning martial arts when he was 10 years old in 2008. ‘’I used to observe Prabir Mondal, renowned karate sensei of that time, who used to live in my locality. One day, I went up to him and told him that I wanted to learn karate. He asked me to meet him at Kishore Bharati Stadium,’’ says Sardar, adding, “On reaching the ground, he told me to run 20 laps but I fainted on the 15th lap. He helped me recover and also told me that I would make it some day.”
Mondal was quite impressed with the youngster’s performance and started giving him lessons free of cost and even gifted Sardar a new pair of costume. From that day, Sardar’s journey to the world of karate started.
In the year 2013, he applied for black belt and bagged it. He has also participated in various national and international karate championships organised by Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Commonwealth Karate Federation (CKF). In the year 2017, Sardar participated in National Karate Championship Kumite (Fight) and won the silver medal accompanied by gold at the West Bengal State Karate Championship in the same year.Sardar represented India in South Asian Karate Championship 2018 and bagged two golds. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and other Asian countries participated in the championship. Sardar competed against participants from Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Continuing his winning streak, he bagged two gold medals in YOJO Cup 2018 organised by the Indian Olympic Association and Government of India (Ministry of Sports).
Besides setting an example for all karate lovers, Sardar has also started his own training institute giving karate lessons to children and women. He even trains school children in martial arts across the city. “These children are underprivileged so I give them lessons at a very nominal fee,” says Sardar. A few of his students, including girls and boys, have taken part in Junior Nationals and bagged gold, silver, and bronze.
Sardar’s parents Sabita and Subal are very proud of their son. However, they want some support from the authorities for Sardar to fulfill his dream of winning the Karate World Championships.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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