I was inspired by Bruce Lee says Zim’s First Internationally Certified Ninja

Martial Artist, Wilfred Mashaya has taken time to reflect on his decorated career. The 40-year old has raised the country’s flag high through the sport. Review and Mail Sports Writer, Shelly Guni (S.G) caught up with Mashaya (WM) who shared his journey through Martial Arts. Below are excerpts of the interview:

S.G. Who is Wilfred Mashaya?

W.M Wilfred Mashaya is a man born in 1982 at Chin’ombe Clinic in Gutu. I grew up in Mufakose where I did my Primary and Secondary Education at Makundano Primary School and Mufakose (1) High School Respectively. I did my Tertiary Education at Harare Polytechnic doing Electronic Computer Systems.

S.G. Tell us, what inspired you to become a martial arts fighter and how has the journey been so far?

W.M. I was inspired by the late Legendary Bruce Lee, seeing his films when I was young. I used to say when I grow up, I want to be like Bruce Lee both as an Actor and Martial Artist. I started training Martial Arts when I was 8 years old. The Journey had its ups and downs but am happy that I have managed to yield some fruitful results on the way and also feel proud to have lifted my country’s flag high around the world by scooping many accolades and awards

S.G. Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your career?

W.M. Bruce Lee like I alluded to and also my late Master Sensei Titus Chigumbu (passed away in 2008). These two have been my greatest influence in my career.

S.G. Can you describe Martial Arts, what is it all about? How important is it in one’s life? Is it just like any other sport?

W.M For Starters Martial Arts is a combat sport which teaches self-defence and grooms one to be a real fighter or Warrior. Besides fighting, it teaches respect, discipline, brevity, health and fitness, kindness and grooms one to be a better person in the society in terms of character, behaviour and attitude. It also encourages one to stay away from criminal activities, staying away from drugs, to respect our elders and refrain from violence.

Like above it’s different from any other sport as this is more than sport as it touches social values; meaning it is actually a way of life like teaching Discipline, Respect, kindness, helping others. Actually it grooms one to be the best in everything fitness, self-defence skills, behaviour, character, flexibility etc.

S.G. What are some of the challenges you have faced in your career so far and how did you overcome them.

W.M The major one is lack of financial support and lack of sponsorship. The other one being that as I introduced new Sports disciplines in my country Zimbabwe, which is Kobudo (Martial Arts Weapons) and Ninjutsu, it has taken time for people to support it, but I hope with time it will receive much support as proven by the results we are showing around the World, We are doing better as compared with other sporting Disciplines in the country.

Also material resources to use have been a challenge but we are learning to live within our means and find ourselves with the little resources that we have.

S.G. What would you say has been your biggest career achievement?

My Biggest Achievements are becoming the First Zimbabwean Male Sportsman to win the Regional Sportsman of the Year Award then followed by becoming the first Zimbabwean and African to Win a Weapons (Kobudo) World Championship which I self-trained myself. Followed by becoming The First Internationally Certified Ninja. Followed by being the First Zimbabwean to be Inducted Into More than six European Hall of Fames, among them Barcelona Hall Of Fame, London Hall Of Fame, Lisbon Hall of Fame, Serbia Hall of Fame, Italy Hall Of Fame, Rome Hall of Fame.

Also clinching the Zimbabwe 2018 Sportsman and Sportsperson of the year awards at Ansa.

Being Appointed Martial Arts Ambassador by various bodies around the World.

Lastly being a holder of Four Black Belts in Karate, Kobudo (weapons), Ninjutsu (Ninja) and Self-Defence.

How would you describe the current state of Martial Arts in Zim?

The sport is doing well in the country compared to other sports but unfortunately it is not receiving the fair recognition or sponsorship it deserves despite having produced many Champions.

Can we say MA sport is now established in the county?

W.M. Martial Arts (MA) is becoming a force to reckon with in the country but I believe it needs more support, recognition and sponsorship for it to be well established as we have many talented Martial Artists from various styles like Karate, Kobudo, Taekwondo, Mixed Martial Arts, and Wushu etc.

S.G. ZimNinja has been doing well internationally, what can you attribute that to?

W.M. ZimNinja has been doing well through dedication, commitment, discipline and the passion to bring glory to the nation through sport participation, hard work and consistence. Above all it has been God since day one. All the glory to the Almighty for the talent and achievements

When did you receive your first medal? Can you describe the feeling?

W.M. My first medals were a Silver and a bronze medal in 2016 in Moscow, Russia in an International Kobudo Championships (Weapons). I couldn’t believe it and I was so happy even to the surprise of many in a sport that I self-trained myself. I was the only black and African participant at the tournament. It was a great feeling and I give all the glory to the Almighty.

S.G. You introduced your son to the sport and he is doing well. When you were at his age, what were you doing by then and if you had received the amount of support he has now, where would you be?

W.M I introduced my Son to Martial Arts when he was 4 years old and he is now 7 years and he is doing very well, having amassed more than 15 medals in International Virtual Competitions specialising in both Karate and Weapons. I started at 8 years and even when I was 15 years, I couldn’t do what he is doing at 7 years. I believe if he gets enough support at that tender age he will take the World by storm and make our Nation proud as he has become already the Youngest African to win an International and World Championships in Weapons which were being held virtually since 2020 due to some Covid-19 restrictions on travel. On top of that, he became also the youngest African kid to be inducted into a European Martial Arts Hall of Fame when he was inducted into the Spartan Hall Of Warriors in absentia in Rome Italy on the 7th of May 2022.

S.G. Are you happy with women participation in Martial Arts?

W.M. Women participation; that is one of my greatest contributions to the nation as I have managed to attract the attention of Women to join Martial Arts as it promotes fitness and also equips them with self-defence skills when attacked in the streets or by criminals.

Also I am very much happy that they are also competing and winning Medals especially in weapons which very few Africans are good at. This also applies to kids. We are seeing parents having trust in me to groom and train their kids as they are impressed with the results being shown by the kids I train and also by my son’s advancement and achievements. In kids we also thrive to instil discipline, to make them strong and to be future role models in the society.

Women are being fascinated with Weapons as they see them interesting that it becomes a hobby like to play around with chuckle Sticks, sword etc. and winning for them  is something they are proud of and on top of that learning other styles like Ninjutsu, Karate and Self-defence

S.G. Generally, what keeps you motivated as an athlete?

I am motivated by the glory and pride that comes when I work hard and achieve not only for myself but for others and the nation at large. I feel challenged every day to be a better version of myself and to surpass my previous achievements. For me I learn every day and I always feel like I haven’t yet started thriving to always swallow pride, to keep my head low, eyes high, remaining focused and hungry for success through hard work.

S.G. This year, you received medals from. Europe, can you comment on that?

W.M. Since the advent of the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020 to date, we have received more than 200 medals won by my students at ZimNinja Academy in International Virtual Competitions,  something that makes me feel very proud to have groomed men, women and kids who can now rise up to the challenge and compete with the rest of the World. Among these medals won in more than 10 Virtual Competitions, I have personally won more than 20 medals from these Competitions and hope to continue doing my best for the nation

S.G. Can you tell us about your upcoming events?

We have been invited to a World Championships in Poland and we are looking forward to do our best and bring glory to our nation if we get enough Sponsorship from well Wishers ranging from Individuals and the corporate world.

We hope to go with a team of plus 15 Martial Artists who shall be competing mainly in Martial Arts Weapons (Kobudo). We have fielded a balanced team of men, women and kids.

We are training very hard as we know it’s not an easy task ahead of us so we have to put our all and do our best so that we can raise our country’s flag high if we manage to go there and showcase our talent on the World stage.

The World Championships will be held from 15 to 18 September 2022 in Poland

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