Religiously following the direction of their instructor, 50 young women formed straight rows before taking position.
They took steps, moving slightly sideways, rocked to the left and to the right and sank lower for some time. “Bend further lower…allow the weight of your entire upper body to fall on your hips,” said their instructor Uppuluri Venkat Rao.
Brief yells of ‘Ikai’ echoed in the yoga room in the APSRTC Zonal Staff Training College at Gannavaram on Tuesday.
The participants learning the rudiments of karate were women conductors drawn from across the Vijayawada zone of the RTC.
The initial hesitation gradually dissipated as learners got a feel of the basic rules that are to be kept in mind before learning the martial art. “Louder! Your yell should be like a lion’s roar. The sound must come from the lower part of the abdomen, not the vocals,” shouted Mr. Venkat Rao.
The initial sniggers let out by the bemused learners soon subsided giving way to a composed disposition, all focussed on the precision of the moves, the coordination of the body parts and the stiff posture of the body.
“Karate is all about stances, strikes, kicks, punches and blocks. Once mastered, it will familiarise you with your true inner strength. Strength is inextricably linked to flexibility. It does not have to come from lifting weights. Flexibility allows a kick to be higher and quicker and a punch to be longer and faster,” said Mr. Venkat Rao.
Walking through the rows and running his eyes around, he guided them from one move to the other. “One…two…three…four…he said, as all left hands stretched to the front direction, fingers folding into a tight fist.
“No bangles in the practice sessions from tomorrow,” said the instructor, apparently upset by their clink.
Introduction of karate coaching for women conductors is an attempt by the RTC officials to infuse a sense of confidence and boldness in them to face any adverse situation.
“This is not just for safety, karate has multi-pronged benefits,” said M. Surya Prakasa Rao, Executive Director of the Corporation, Vijayawada zone, who inaugurated the training session.
Within a short while, the group of enthusiastic learners was seen enjoying the moves of the upper body, shoulders, back, arms, elbows and hands to produce dynamic Karate ‘strikes’ and ‘blocks.’
The day-long sessions will continue for a week to equip the learners with what it takes to face an opponent with self-belief and an equal dose of confidence.