- Siblings Yasas, Senuri, and Sasanka Fernando awarded karate ranking at same ceremony
By Shailendree Wickrama Adittiya
Yasas, Senuri, and Sasanka are siblings who are making their parents proud by receiving National Black Belt certifications from the Sri Lanka Karate-Do Federation at the same occasion in December 2022, with plans to continue with the martial arts and further their training and ranking.
Their father, Jagath Fernando, shared that his three children also received a similar certification of international standard from Italy, and that both these accreditations will help them significantly in life. The Morning Brunch spoke to the family to learn about their martial arts journey and plans.
Twenty-two-year-old Yasas is the eldest in the family, and was the first to practise karate. He studied at Maris Stella College, Negombo, and is currently pursuing a degree at the National Institute of Business Management (NIBM). In terms of karate, Yasas is undergoing a referee/judge programme as well, which his siblings too will follow once they are old enough.
Speaking to The Morning Brunch, Yasas shared that he has been practising karate for seven years, a sport he recommends as it is good for developing one’s physique and improving self-confidence.
“I’m still at the first grade of the black belt and I intend on going as far as I can in this area,” he said, adding that he has taken part in several competitions and even had the opportunity to go to Malaysia for a programme. Unfortunately, this didn’t work out due to the situation in the country. However, with things improving somewhat, all-island competitions, as well as those in Asia, are resuming, and Yasas plans on taking part in these.
Having seen her older brother train and compete, Senuri, who is 16 years old, wanted to follow in his footsteps, and has been training for six years. Senuri said that karate is a good sport to participate in, especially while studying, emphasising the importance of finding a balance between studies and sports.
Karate will also help them when they are older, she said, explaining that it is a sport that can make one stand out when seeking employment.
“It’s rare that three children from the same family achieve something like this, since mostly it’s just one or two kids from a family that do so; and it fills me with joy that we got this together,” she said about their black belt certification.
Senuri is currently studying at St. Joseph’s College, Negombo with her younger sibling, 14-year-old Sasanka. Sasanka began karate at the same time as his sister, and plans on continuing in the sport, striking a balance between his studies and karate so that neither is neglected.
He took the time to thank his trainer, T. Mahinda Suwaris, as well as his parents, for their support, dedication, and encouragement.
According to Jagath Fernando, all three students trained under Suwaris, who guided them in school as well as through private classes. T. Mahinda Suwaris is the President and chief instructor of the Meiji Shotokan Sport Karate Association Sri Lanka, and also a member of the executive committee of the Sri Lanka Karate Do Federation. He is a seventh Dan Black Belt, which is the 19th level of the system, and the fourth level of Master Instructor, or Grand Master.
When asked why he decided to nudge his children in the direction of karate, Jagath Fernando shared that he felt it would keep them occupied and distracted from various vices. It would also help them in the future, he said, as karate achievements can help when seeking employment, especially with jobs linked to the Sri Lanka Police or armed forces. The international certification they received will be an advantage if they ever decide to seek employment in countries like Italy and Japan, he added.
Jagath also shared that the Covid-19 pandemic has been a hurdle in his kids’ martial arts journey; Senuri, despite having a Gampaha District ranking, couldn’t take part in many regional competitions due to the pandemic. Karate classes were also put on hold during the pandemic. However, the siblings were determined to keep at it, and would look up their training online and practice daily. Jagath said that it helped that the siblings had each other to practise with.