Pretoria - The cultivation of mental discipline taught in karate has seen 8-year-old Dimpho Cheu through some tough times.
Despite losing some of her trophies, gear and money saved up for attending a tournament in Japan to the recent floods in the city, she still has her head held up high.
The unassuming Grade 3 learner from Uoane Primary School has her sights on attending the prestigious karate tournament in December this year, even though it looks unlikely as some of her money for the trip was washed away by the floods.
Her father Jabu Mafulatha said the floods not only washed away the savings, but also some of her tangible memories from past tournaments.
“Some trophies and gear got lost during the floods. Children are very visual and for her not seeing her trophies means she hadn’t won,” said Mafulatha.
He had been living with her at the Eerste Fabrieke informal settlement from 2017.
Mafulatha had already started saving a little portion of the R35 000 needed for the December trip to Japan.
“When the floods swept away our shack she was at school and I was out trying to raise more donations for the trip,” he said.
Devastated by the series of events, Dimpho had to move to her mother’s home, also in Mamelodi.
The orange belt has an impressive array of accolades and other belts to her name and her journey is proof that greatness knows no age.
A fearsome and formidable karateka at a tender age, she has won numerous trophies, including the 4th Limpopo Shinkyokushinkai Championship 2019, Iko Matsushima Karate Tournament in 2019 and the Iko Nakamura.
Her karate journey was sparked by her father, a brown belt himself, when she would watch him training and fight at tournaments.
In 2016, she was finally bitten by the bug at a tournament in Duduza to which her father was invited.
“I knew she had a thing for karate and loved imitating me, but I was shocked when, at the tournament, she asked to fight and and displayed her moves,” he said.
She then joined the Mamelodi YMCA dojo under Shihan Wandi Ncapai from Iko Nakamura. Her exceptional abilities are hard to spot at first. She is an adorably cute girl who keeps to herself.
In fact, it is impossible to imagine her as a karateka until she dons her gear and shows off her moves of power, speed, stamina and endurance.
She has always been first in all her tournaments despite her small frame.
She is so small that in some cases scepticism was such that proof was required, her father said, who added that what she has done in three years takes most people longer to achieve.
She trains for at least two hours every day, but he said she still had time for TV. Her favourite show is the Mr Bean cartoon.
She said her friends were now interested in taking up karate after seeing how good she had become.