KICKBOXERS discovered that martial arts can connect people from different cultures and backgrounds, on a recent trip to Morocco.
The contingent from Hastings Kickboxing Academy (HKA), led by Carl Denne, spent five days working with young people at Assouar boxing school, in Taroudant, a small town in the south of the country.
The school operates as a drop-in centre with the aim of helping disadvantaged young people in the region.
Carl said: “I’ve taught in many schools and clubs across England. But here no one spoke English.
“Thinking this would be a hurdle-I was wrong.
“It turns out that the beautiful fighting sport I love is very similar to everywhere I go.
“I’ve never seen so much heart and family community within one roof. These guys eat, sleep, and breathe kickboxing. “
Carl and the others from HKA trained for 12 hours over four days in some of the hottest conditions they had ever encountered, returning home this week.
The equipment used by the students at Assouar is basic, for example, their kickbags are filled with rocks.
“This backs up the point that it’s the instructor and dedication of the fighters that makes a great fighter, and a fantastic family community and not the gym itself,” said Carl.
Assouar was founded by professional boxer Youness Ait Bayaa in 2007.
Since then he has been a father figure to the young people who have come through his doors.
Carl said that he was particularly moved by the story of one young woman at Assouar, who overcame cultural barriers and joined the young men in the gym, despite being refused entry on several occasions because of her gender.
“We were asked to come back soon. And although this won’t be in the next month or two, we do have some hopeful plans for next year. So watch this space.”
Hastings Kickboxing Academy is based at William Parker Sports College. Visit www.hastings-kickboxing.co.uk.