Karate Master Shihan Athula based in Germany offers services to Lanka | Daily News

Karate Master Shihan Athula based in Germany offers services to Lanka

Shihan Athula after receiving the ‘Award of Honour’ from the German federation
Shihan Athula after receiving the ‘Award of Honour’ from the German federation

Germany-based former national karate champion in kata and kumite Shihan Athula Minithanthri who emigrated to Great Britain in 1987 is offering his services to the land of his birth recalling his origins as committee member of the founding group of the Sri Lanka National Karate-Do Federation in 1975.

He started learning karate when he was 10 years old under Sensei Bonnie Roberts and when he was about 12 or 13 years old, he received an opportunity to teach beginners in his karate class.

“Lots of karate teachers today have forgotten their first trainer who gave them a proper foundation in karate. If you ask from them ‘who is your karate teacher’, they want to name world renowned Japanese masters. But they forget without having a good foundation no one can become a good karate teacher or even to become an international representative,” said Shihan Athula who received an ‘Award of Honour’ from the German National Karate Federation in January having completed 50 years in the sport.

“Also a real karate master should not forget his or her roots and where they came from. But most of our Sri Lanka karate teachers forget that,” said Shihan Athula who became the youngest 3rd Dan holder in Sri Lanka in 1980.

He developed many karate schools in Sri Lanka, having karate dojos in almost every city in Sri Lanka under his guidance.

But his life changed in 1987 when he came in contact with the legendary Soke Teruo Hayashi. After meeting him several times, Shihan Athula left Sri Lanka for a short visit to Great Britain. There he met Britain’s Education Minister Sir Rhodes Boyson and started teaching Shitoryu Karate.

His first dojo was at Greenwich University. In just two weeks, he had more than 70 members, including bodybuilder and Mr Handsome Ken Martin. Within a short period, Shihan Athula expanded his dojos to many other cities in Great Britain.

He also represented Great Britain as a head coach cum participant with his Karate team to Shitoryu World Championship in Rome where he won a gold medal in Kumite under 60kg, a high point in his career.

Among his students during his teaching days in Great Britain was ‘cage fighting’ world champion Paul Saunders.

However, since he found it difficult to travel by air to other European countries from Britain, he decided to move to Germany.

From small beginnings, he now has several karate dojos in Germany for the past 20 years.

“Now I am one of the important referees in Germany looking after Shitoryu or Ryuei-ryu Kata as well. I was founder of Shitoryu Karate Championships in Germany which I have been conducting since then,” said Shihan Athula who has produced many district, national and international champions as well as a world champion.

In 2001 he went to Tokyo, Japan with a team representing Germany as head coach to participate in the Ryubukai World championship where one member won a silver medal in the female Kumite category.

Last year he came to Sri Lanka with 15 members from Germany to participate in the Sato-Ha International Championship at the Sugathadasa Stadium.

Shihan Athula is in the technical committee of the German federation for Shitoryu and is also an examiner for Dan tests in every style of karate.

Since 2005, he has been working as a European Chief Instructor to the Japan Karate-Do Sato-Ha Shitoryu and in January 2018 was nominated a Permanent Director of their Japanese Karate Federation.

He has also created his own association called Dhammika Karate-Do which has representatives in Sri Lanka, India, Israel, Palestine, Iran, Ghana, Portugal, Germany, etc.

“In ancient times, martial arts began with Buddhist monks in India. Monk Bodhi Dharma is a very popular person who brought it to China. Therefore, thinking of the history and also the meaning of Dhammika, I used it for my Karate Association,” said Shihan Athula who has turned down offers to be national coach of other countries.

“I am very happy to stay in Germany sharing my knowledge and experience with the German federation. However, if I get any chance to support my motherland, I will not think twice to do my very best for my country Sri Lanka without fail,” said Shihan Athula.