AKSHAY KUMAR tells Jyothi Venkatesh
How do you feel now that you have bagged a Katana?
To receive a Katana is considered an honour amongst the Japanese and Kukukai International told me that they decided to hand it over to me since they felt that it would be fitting since I have always propagated martial arts in India. I am thrilled and glad that I have been honoured with a Katana, a tradition practiced by Samurais and Martial artists and a 6th degree Black Belt in Kuyukai Gojuryu Karate as well by Kuyukai International from none other than Shihan Hirano Osamu, who is the world wide head of Ku Yu Kai. Few in the world hold this kind of an honour.
Does this recognition give you even a bigger kick than being a Bollywood bigwig?
This is my beginning as a karate learner in my journey to be a grand master. I started when I was a tiny tot and I have been working for this for the last 35 years. Anything to promote my art keeps me going. To tell you the truth, even if five films of mine were to click back to back, I’d not be as thrilled as I am today with this honour.
Your Blue is being released with Main Aurr Mrs Khanna as well as All The Best during Diwali. How do you feel?
I feel that if the film is good, it will run, whether it is a solo release or not. Blue is the first film shot in Bahamas under water with sharks. I am confident that the hard work that we put in Blue will pay us big dividends. It is Anthony D’Souza’s first film as a director and I am sure it will put him in the league of big directors.
Do you think your son Aarav will follow in your footsteps?
Right now, Aarav is too young for me to say whether he will take up acting or martial arts in future. He is just 7 years old. Right now he watches only Tom and Jerry cartoons. If Aarav wants to join martial arts he is welcome. Even if becomes a painter, as a father I’d be very proud. I am watching Aarav growing up to be a small Bruce Lee with his uniform in an orange belt. I used to do that when I was a kid. This will prepare him for his life ahead. I hope all dads will give their children the same opportunity to learn martial arts. I want to prove to parents what disciplined lives you get when you train for martial arts.
Why did you think of holding the first ever National Karate championship in Mumbai?
Mehul Vora, who is also training Shatrughan Sinha’s son Luv and my son Aarav, is the technical director and organizer of the first ever invitational National Karate championship. This is for the first time that I allowed him to attach my name to a tournament like this though earlier I was promoting martial arts in my own way without any publicity or fanfare. Mehul convinced me to give me name, since I want to give bigger canvass to martial arts in India. I want every child to experience a world class event. If the event goes well, I have plans to take this outside India too.
Do you feel like a warrior now?
I do not feel like a warrior, because I do not have that kind of mentality. The first thing that you learn when you get Katano is not to kill any one but vow to fight against all kinds of evils in you. One who conquers all evils in oneself is a true warrior.
Tell me something about Master Shozo Ujita!
Way back in 1952, he had begun training under Master Shozo Ujita, the past President of the Go-Ju-Kai federation and continued his training with Shihan Gogen Yamaguchi from 1963. In fact, he is currently one of the senior most Gojuryu karate grandmasters of the world equivalent to rank of Hanshi 10th Dan. The passing of the Katana is carried through generations of warriors and grandmasters.
In what way has learning martial arts helped you, as an actor?
I have always felt that it is great to meditate. Learning martial arts has helped me in every stage of my life, as an actor. I tell all parents to give a chance to their kids to go ahead and learn martial arts, because self defence will always help them in their lives in the future.
Not just karate alone but any kind of martial arts is important. I am of the opinion that discipline helps you, whether you are an actor, builder or a dancer. Since I feel that the younger generation needs to be instilled with the kind of discipline that I have been having, I am trying to promote martial arts by having a four day tournament in Mumbai in a small way with as many as 2400 children from all over the country taking part in it. I hope that one day this tournament will emerge in a big way.
Are you planning to start a school of martial arts in Mumbai?
Yes. I need four acres of land to start a school of martial arts in Mumbai. As and when the government is ready to grant me land in a prime area, say like Lokhandwala Complex, I will be ready to start a school.
You seem to be the only action hero who is into martial arts in Bollywood!
Though I promote martial arts through action in my films, I am not the only actor who is into action and stunts. Today every actor is doing great action in films, whether it is Ajay Devgan, Sanjay Dutt or for that matter Salman Khan and are good at it. Why just actors, today there are several young and beautiful girls also who have proved that they are no less when it comes to action by doing bold stunts in Khatron Ke Khiladi Fear Factor Level 2.