All that glitters is not gold
THE story of Wilfred Mashaya (Pictured)is best understood as a cautionary tale of the old adage ‘all that glitters is not gold’.
Here is a young man who grew up in the dusty streets of Mufakose using martial arts as a form of escapism.
He would often retreat into the imaginary world of his heroes Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan to stay away from drugs and crime.
That passion grew into obsession and then into a career, and he now stands as one of the most decorated and recognisable faces in Kobudoka on the continent.
“I grew up watching Bruce Lee movies and was in awe of him, going on to make my own chuckle sticks and imitating him,” said the 36-year-old.
“As I grew up, I realised that I had talent in weapons and started training myself, experimenting with different weapons.
“I met a few Asians who helped me perfect my skills before becoming a professional in 2016 when I took part in my first international tournament in Russia.
“I won silver and bronze medals, and more importantly got graded to master degree second Dan black belt,” he said.
Kobudoka is the traditional Japanese form of ancient weaponry martial arts, and while the 36-year-old appears to be relatively new, odds are one is likely to have come across him during the ZRP’s pass-out parades, his Agricultural Show performances or other public functions.
There, Mashaya goes by the moniker “Zimbabwe Ninja” and is usually draped in a black ninja outfit.
The year 2018 has been good for the Police Sergeant; but then again, that could arguably be one of the biggest understatements of the year.
Mashaya is currently the reigning world Kobudo champion, was recently appointed the President of Zimbabwe Sport Nunchaku by the World Nunchaku Association (WNA) based in the Netherlands and won Master of the Year Award in Italy last weekend It was in Italy that his crowing moment came when Mashaya was inducted as the first class of the Martial Heroes Hall of
“This truly has been my biggest year in martial arts,” said Mashaya.
“I have a plethora of achievements from tournament wins, my world championship crowning moment and the appointment with the Zimbabwe Sport Nunchaku Association.
“I have met so many people and had great experiences along the way,” he said. Unfortunately, underneath the veneer of crowning moments, great achievements and experiences, have been some dark days. Many dark days.
“There are so many challenges that come with this sport,” said Mashaya.
“Firstly, sponsorship is hard to come by and one often has to contend with doors being closed in their face, numerous disappointments and swallowing of one’s pride.
“Equipment is hard to come by and one cannot find any of the things I need locally, never mind the travel and tournament expenses.
“Racism is another big issue and one has to have a thick skin.
“I remember when I started competing professionally, the Asians and a portion of the white community found it hard to accept that a black African could compete at their level.
“I did not have any people to turn to given that I was and still am the only African competing at this level. It was been very lonely on the road.
“I also had to contend with the stares and whispers, which really affected my game. “I am glad that over the years, acceptance has grown and now I think about 75 percent of the international fighting community now see me as an equal,” he said.
It does help that the 36-year-old has all this success to cushion him from the challenges.
“The experiences from this year alone have been awe inspiring,” he said.
“I am also a budding actor and in the future l hope to venture full-time into film.
I have had the time of my life this year meeting renowned actors like Cynthia Rothrock, Grandmaster Sifu Samuel Kwok, Ipman 3 actor Simon Kook and Sunny Singh.
“I grew up watching some of these people and being able to mix, mingle and have them know who I am was totally out of this world,” he said.