Hard work pays off for Mashaya

Kobudo martial artist Wilfred Mashaya capped a fine competitive season after he was finally honoured at home last week. Known as the Zimbabwean Ninja, he became the first local World Kobudo champion. 

The Daily News on Sunday’s Austin Karonga caught up with Mashaya to talk about his recent honour. Below are excerpts of the interview:

Q: The moment finally arrived, how do you feel about being recognised at home having conquered regionally and internationally?

A: I am so happy that after many years of hard work and sweat born out of passion, I am now reaping the sweet fruits though it was not an easy road.

I feel proud of martial arts’ growth in our country and having pioneered kobudo and ninjitsu in our country to the extent of winning internationally. 

I am proud I did this for our nation and on March 1 the nation rewarded the Zimbabwean talent that aimed to put our nation on the map through sport.

Q: Martial arts continues to scale dizzy heights, what is the secret behind this success?

A: I am grateful that as martial artists, we are breaking new grounds; in karate, Shihan Samson Muripo conquered and me on the other side conquering the world in kobudo, ninjistu and nunchaku-do. I am very happy with the inspiration and motivation and encouragement that I share with Shihan Muripo.

Q: You have spoken highly of Sports minister Kirsty Coventry and receiving the Sportsperson of the Year accolade from her, how did it feel?

A: I am also grateful to my sports icon... Coventry for this honour and her kind and inspirational words ... for me to continue working hard and to continue putting our nation on the world map. She said she was proud of my achievements and encouraged me to open academies so that I promote sport as it is also my wish to plough back my talent to communities if given enough support.

Q: How much inspiration do you draw from this recent award?

A: This award is a boost to my inspired mind, body and soul and it challenges me to work even harder as it feels nice to shine for one's country on the world stage though it requires a lot of dedication, passion, endurance, focus, consistence and discipline.

Q: Landing the top award ahead of seasoned campaigners Samson Muripo and Ben Follett Smith, how is the feeling like?

A: To me, it's not about beating other nominees but it's a war against myself, personal challenge trying to fight the weaker person in me, trying to be a better person then I was yesterday.  For me, everyday is a learning process and that is the way of martial arts as a way of life.

Q: How much support have you been getting locally?

A: I would like to greatly thank the commissioner general of police Godwin Matanga and Rio Zim for believing in my talent and sponsoring my trips to conquer the world.

For my future assignments, I am greatly appealing to potential sponsors and the corporate world to kindly support this Zim talent so that together we can achieve more.

I maybe able to bring glory and pride for the motherland every time I am on national duty through sport. 

I am forever grateful to the Almighty for everything. 

I am very much grateful to my parents, family and friends, ZRP family and all Zimbabweans who encouraged me when it was hard. 

Through trials and tribulations, I developed a warrior’s indomitable spirit through their overwhelming support.

This win, I dedicate it to them and trust me, this is just the  beginning as I know there is much more in me that I should do for the nation.

I believe it's a calling and the first internationally certified Zim Ninja and first African Kobudo Champion is man on a mission.

Q: What inspired you to choose kobudo?

A: I was inspired by legendary Bruce Lee's films. I used to watch his films and fell in love with nunchakus and I made my own nembezo and started experimenting. 

At the tender age of 11, there about I realised that I had a midas touch with weapons and I started experimenting with more weapons that came my way, least did I know that that was the beginning of kobudo. 

As I grew up older, I became sort of addicted and said to myself I like this hobby. Later on through Internet and social media, I realised that the mastery of martial arts weapons is actually a sport though few in Africa can do it due to lack of expertise.

Where there is a will there is a way, I began self-training through any information that came my way through individuals like few Asians that I met along the way and through research on the Internet and other social platforms. 

Many people were surprised by my level of growth in mastery of different Japanese martial arts weapons that include the Katana (sword), Tonfa, Sai (dagger) , nunchakus (chuckle sticks) and Kama (sickle).

Q: And the desire to pursue kobudo at top level?

A: My breakthrough that sealed it to be a calling was in November 2016 in Moscow, Russia where I won silver and a bronze medal in my first ever international tournament to the surprise of many. 

Then 2017, I won silver and two bronze medals at the same tournament. Last year was my best year as I became the first African World Kobudo Champion and was inducted into the Barcelona hall of fame, won gold in Montenegro in a Martial Arts World Humanitarian Festival, Master of The Year in Italy and was inducted into its Martial Heroes Hall of Honours. 

The same year, I was certified as the first international black belt Ninja another branch of martial arts called Ninjitsu and was appointed Zimbabwe branch chief. 

Experimenting and having passion in what I do has helped me realise my potentials and am grateful that I am now a holder of four black belts in four different martial arts styles; karate, ninjutsu, kobudo and self-defence.

Q: Where do you go from here as far as competing is concerned?

A: I am not done yet as I believe one day I will also unleash my acting talent  to the world as my dream is to star in action-packed films.

The same way I have done in sports being inspired by the late Bruce Lee, Jet li, Jackie Chan and many others.

Lastly, martial arts requires one to be very disciplined, to be humble, to have love and respect for mankind so that we live in harmony with the universe: that's the true spirit and teachings of a true Budo Warrior (Martial Arts Warrior).

I bow.

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