Karate Comes to Burkina Faso
Asian martial arts films have inspired young people in Burkina Faso to pick up karate.
For Thomas Rommel, taking photographs is a way to tell stories in a more emotional way than writing them down. “Also, when I tell stories with words, I can’t keep it short!” he says.
Karate, though not as popular as boxing, is well established in Burkina Faso. Many small towns have their own “dojo” or martial arts training school. Though usually nothing more than a spartan space with no real teacher, the training schools attract young people eager to copy the moves they have seen on action films from Asia at their local video club.
Jeannette Nikiéma watches these films, too. As she plays with local boys most of the time, it was no surprise when, three years ago, aged 10, she also decided to try karate. Her school since 2007 has been part of the Sankudo Kikai Karate Do Federation, one of the most popular varieties of karate in West Africa.
Text and photographs by Thomas Rommel
Jeannette, 13, practices karate at a martial arts school in Ouagadougou. Every week she trains three times: from four o’clock to six o’clock in the late afternoon, as the sun goes down.
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