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Martial arts is a way of life for this Fordsburg family
Posted on Sat, Oct 16, 2010 at 5:00 pm
by IDMA Editor

The head of the family, Hanshi (honorable master) Solly Said, founder of Seido Karate in Fordsburg, has spent the past 45 years pursuing his passion for the martial arts.

Said is currently ranked eighth dan (degree of black belt) while his wife, sensei Shamsa, and daughter, sensei Zahra, 23, are fourth dans. His son, Yu-sha, 18, is a third dan.

He told the Sunday Times Extra that his granddaughter, Qaylah Bhamjee, 5, also recently started training in karate after she showed a keen interest for the sport.

In 2006, Said was the first African man to be inducted into the martial arts Wall of Fame in Ohio in the United States where he was conferred his professorship in martial arts and sports medicine.

Said started training at the age of 13 and dreamt of celebrating his 21st birthday in Japan where he looked forward to meeting and being mentored by Sosai (great grandmaster) Mas Oyama.

"To make my dream a reality, I became a draftsman after finishing school and managed to save up some money, but due to apartheid laws, I could not get a visa to go to Japan and had to travel to New York first."

During his time in the US in 1973, he was mentored by Tadashi Nakamura one of the top Kyohushinkai Karate masters and he recalls training for six to eight hours a day, seven days a week.

In 1974, he made his way to Japan and lived out his dream of meeting Oyama.

However, he felt homesick and returned to South Africa in 1975 and opened his own wellness centre in Fordsburg.

With the support of Zahra and Shamsa, who run women's combat, pilates and yoga classes, Said manages more than 10 branches across Johannesburg.

Zahra said: "My story is different to my dad's in that karate was never my dream. I studied fashion but I grew up in a dojo with three basic principals - love, respect and obedience - which I have carried through to my daily life and realised karate was a part of me I couldn't escape."

Her mother said over the years their lifestyle and business required much commitment with physical and mental challenges and rewards on a daily basis.

Shamsa joked that, unlike other kids, Zahra and Yu-sha grew up on treats of bananas and raisins. Karate was never as much of a dream for them as it was for their father, but now it's also their lifestyle.

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