Master of martial arts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 April, 2012, 12:00am


Seiya Obu, a Primary Six student from C&MA Chui Chak Lam Memorial School in Yuen Long, has been practising wushu since he was a toddler. And the half-Japanese, half-Chinese boy has high ambitions. He is aiming for a gold medal in the upcoming World Junior Wushu Championships.

At three, Seiya was keen to take up a sport. So he asked his father, Toshihiko Obu, about the sports he played as a teenager in his hometown of Fukuoka, in Japan. Toshihiko had played baseball and karate, and Seiya wanted to follow suit.

However, the local course organisers of the two sports refused to let him join.

'They told my parents I was way too young to participate. But I really wanted to play a sport. We found out that the wushu course accepted children aged four and above. After some consideration, the coach accepted my application,' says the 11-year-old.

The coaches told Seiya to work hard, and set him a target - to enter the Hong Kong junior team.

Seiya didn't let them down, and made it into the junior team when he was seven.

'Both karate and wushu are branches of martial arts. When I started learning wushu, even though my dad had not specialised in the sport, he was able to share his experiences in karate and his advice was helpful,' says Seiya.

At first, Seiya's progress in the junior team was not smooth, and he did not get the recognition he deserved from his teammates.

'Senior team athletes taught me a lot. But because of my nationality, my junior teammates thought I could not handle the Chinese traditional sport well,' says Seiya.

The cultural conflict upset Seiya, but he eventually overcame the barriers and started to make friends with his teammates.

Later, Seiya started to specialise in the gun (long staff), dao (broadsword) and changquan style, proving that he was as capable as his other junior squad members. Last August, he represented Hong Kong at the Asian Junior Wushu Championships in Shanghai.

'It was the first time I represented Hong Kong at a large-scale [continental] competition, and I won a silver medal in the boys'

C-grade gun,' says Seiya.

Seiya's role model is his good friend and teammate Lau Tsz-hong, 12, who recently won the Hong Kong Potential Sports Stars Award.

'Tsz-hong won two medals at the 2010 World Junior Wushu Championships. I also want to be a successful athlete like him and win gold medals at world events,' says Seiya.

Seiya is eyeing glory, as he prepares for the World Junior Wushu Championships to be held in Macau in September.

Recently, Seiya's efforts also earned him recognition from his school, which nominated him for the A.S. Watson Group Hong Kong Students Sports Award.

Although he once wanted to copy his dad, Seiya is clear about what he wants to do. 'Right now I only want to focus on wushu. No karate or baseball,' he says.