Govera finds solace in kung fu

HARARE - Orphaned at 16 and raised by his brothers, Leonard Govera was largely in and out of trouble at school and admits he was easily lured to engage in street fighting.

So, when he decided to take up the martial art of kung fu, his brother was the first to raise alarm anticipating that it was only a matter of time before Govera was arrested for public violence.

But that sceptical reaction has not rung true in Govera’s six-year stint practising kung fu which has seen him being tutored by famous instructors and travelling to China to horn his skills.

Now an instructor of repute, who instructs security guards and offers self-defence classes to women, the 30-year-old is eking out a living out of a discipline that is still trying to find acceptance in the country.

“Kung fu in Africa unlike in China, it’s not a culture, so it will take time for people to start taking part but slowly it’s picking up,” Govera says.

“There is still the misconception that it’s all about violence, which is not it. It actually fosters discipline.

“When I started off in Chitungwiza, my brother was not so keen on the sport. He used to see it as another violent thing and he would always say ‘You are going to beat up someone and get arrested’. But I actually grew in discipline.”

There are hundreds of differing fighting styles that are classified as Kung fu.

The style soared in popularity globally following a series of films featuring United States-born and Hong Kong-raised actor Bruce Lee, who died in 1973.

Another form is Wushu recognised by the International Olympic Committee but failed last year in its bid to be included in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Govera practises Wing Chun a concept-based form of self-defence which utilises both striking and grappling while specialising in close-range combat

“This is something I have always loved. Growing up, I was kind of a bully so it naturally grew on me,” he says teasingly.

“Now I’m a kung fu master and trainer. Before, I wanted to do a course in hunting but when I encountered money problems I took this up and never looked back ever since.

“Now I can manage to pay my fees and pursue that dream (of becoming a hunter). But that’s now secondary.

“Right now, I’m concentrating on my students. I have more than 20 students.

“This is my third year training, I have students in Chitungwiza and in Harare. Some of my students are women who just want to learn self-defence from rape.”

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