• Mtshali is also the only African who sits in the International Board of Directors in Japan.
•He first visited Kenya in 2007 and 12 years later, he says there's unity of purpose and the sports fraternity stands to benefit.
Japan Karate Association Regional Director, Sub-Sahara Africa, Edward Mtshali Shihan is in the country to conduct training on the grading and standardisation of the sport in the region.
The South African instructor, who has been training in the speciality for the last 57 years, is a member of the Japan Karate Association JKA — the only body that has stuck to the traditional way of Karate. Mtshali is also the only African who sits in the International Board of Directors in Japan.
As a director, he said he's open to solving the challenges hampering the growth of the sport. Even though power struggle and politics were a hindrance in his first visit to Kenya in 2007, he observed that 12 years later, there's unity of purpose and the sports fraternity stands to benefit.
He said: "I am here to impart knowledge through training and normalise the sport because karatekas differ in grades. Africans are not vast with the skills. People are in the dark because they do not have the basics of how to train, therefore advancing knowledge to instructors and empowerment will help take the sport to the next level."
"Power struggles and greed were a stumbling block in my first visit but progress has been witnessed since things have been sorted out. Kenyans swallowed their pride and consented on working together. Karate is like a river. In life when there is no movement, there's no progress and am happy for the direction Kenyans unanimously took."
Having been in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in July, he said Kenya should accommodate albinos too, adding that with the rising interest in the sport from the female gender, exploitation should be unheard of.
"Tanzania have incorporated albinos on board and Kenya should do the same because they feel excluded. Gender abuse is common and should be avoided by all means. We want Kenya and Africa at large to be internationally recognised. Our focus is to ensure that next year's JKA World Cup in Japan has representation from as many African countries as possible," he continued.
"Our objectives look achievable if Thursday's attendance is anything to go by. I have been to Uganda as well but the 60 trainees who were here on the first day (Thursday) is the highest I have had across the three countries. We expect the figure to double tomorrow (today). The hunger and desire is there. The support from the Kenyan federation has been massive."
As a sign of goodwill, plans are underway for the country to hold an exclusive international event in three year's time to enable the world to witness the strides Kenya will have made by then. Before leaving the country, he will also recommend Kenya to Japan on the progress so as to open more links.