Imran Ali, 35, established the first martial arts training academy in the garrison city by the name of Sholian Tai Chi Kung Fu Academy where he trains children and youngsters in Karate, Kung-fu, boxing and gymnastics.
He says he did so because he could not join an academy to train for martial arts when he was younger.
Mr Ali’s students regularly participate in international tournaments and in the All Pakistan Kung Fu Championship in the Shalimar Club recently.
Dawn caught up with him to talk to him about the trends in and benefits of learning mixed martial arts.
Q: What led you to establish a mixed martial arts academy?
A: I learnt martial arts from many different teachers in the parks near my house where Karate masters would practice each day, and I would ask them to train me. I would dream of a similar academy where children were trained in mixed martial arts and I decided to open an academy after I was done with my training so that the younger generation has the facilities I wanted.
To be fair, I first started training children in order to be able to afford sports kits and being trained by national trainers. I would train children and ask them to pay me a minimum fee. After I was done with my training, I started a national level training academy and managed to send some 13 students to compete nationally, which was my dream.
Q: Which one of the martial arts do most children prefer to learn at the academy?
A: Most people want to learn Kung Fu, Karate or boxing, because they are best for self defence. The younger children want to learn gymnastics, but there is not much scope for that. Most of the girls train just to remain fit ad not because they want to participate in national or international championships. They want to lean either Kung Fu, Karate or boxing. The girls also enrol in training or self defence and some join because they want to secure an admission into a university on a sports quota.
Q: What are the benefits to the younger generation of knowing mixed martial arts?
A: Most universities have sports quotas and knowing mixed martial arts helps them get into a good university easily. Mixed martial arts makes them physically and mentally fit. They get more confident and can also participate in national and international tournaments.