There is no dearth of talent in Pakistan. In Quetta, hundreds of Pakistani Hazara women have adopted martial arts for reasons more than one. From epic side-kicks to elbow blows, females living in the southwestern part of the city have been attending regular training for the same. Hazaras, who are mainly Shia Muslims, have long been victims of sectarian violence, even living in two separate enclaves closed off by checkpoints and armed men to keep them protected. Hence, they see the traditional practice of combat as a means of self-defense and confidence, reported AFP.
Most women often face harassment from men too, being groped in crowded markets or while commuting via public transport. “We can’t stop bomb blasts with karate, but with self-defence, I have learnt to feel confident,” 20-year-old Nargis Batool told the publication. “Everyone here knows that I am going to the club. Nobody dares say anything to me while I am out.”
In Balochistan, almost 4,000 people are attending regular classes in more than 25 clubs, according to Ishaq Ali, head of the Balochistan Wushu Kung Fu Association, the organisation which overlooks the sport. The city’s two largest academies, which train around 250 people each, told AFP that a major chunk of their students are young Hazara women. Interestingly, many of them also go on to taking part in competitions and earning money from the sport.
Talking about how parents are allowing their girls to step into the world of martial arts, trainer Fida Hussain Kazmi said, “In general, women cannot exercise in our society, but for the sake of self-defence and her family, they are being allowed.” Some like Nargis Hazara and Kulsoom Hazara have even won international contests. Kazmi learnt martial arts from a Chinese master in Lahore and has been training since. The 41-year-old offers two hours of training six days a week for 500 rupees but provides free of cost classes to those who have lost a relative to militant violence.