Seeing isn’t always believing – Blind IOGKF member receives president’s award

BY: Hari Raghavan – IOGKF India

In late 2009, IOGKF India member, Hari Raghavan was the recipient of an award from the President of India, which recognized his unique achievements and heart filled spirit, through his efforts to learn Karate. Below is IOGKF International’s exclusive interview with Hari Raghavan as well as a short article written by Hari himself. Hari is a story is inspiring and should be motivational to Karate-ka everywhere…

Karate had always fascinated me and I had practiced it for a couple of years during my childhood. I discontinued it early but swore that I would continue it some day in the future. However as I began to lose my sight, my focus in life shifted to how I could educate myself and make a career, and my interests like Karate took a back seat. Last year I felt that I had stabilized my career and it was time to pursue my dream. I searched around for a master who could teach me the art and make me perfect in it despite my apparent limitations.

To my good fortune Sensei Mistry graciously accepted me in his Dojo and I have now completed one year’s training with him. Like all students who approach Sensei, I too thought that I would learn Karate from the great master. However what we learnt is much  more than the techniques and nuances of Goju Ryu Karate and Sensei has taught us how our body works and responds to different activities and how to heal it. We also learn the right code of conduct and the philosophy of Karate which makes us better human beings. All my seniors embody the values taught by our Sensei and I have learnt humility, discipline and focus by observing them. My endeavor going forward is to be a good disciple and learn the great art in all its aspects – physical, mental and spiritual.


 1. If you don’t mind, could you please tell us a little bit about your condition and how it affects you in everyday life?

 A : Retinitis Pigmentosa is a degenerative eye condition in which the cells of the retina gradually die leading to progressive blindness. R.P. comes in the way of my accessing any kind of printed / handwritten material which is the key to survival in a job, playing a sport and managing my finances on my own.

2. How do you think life as a blind person has made you who you are today?

A : It has made me a more focussed  individual, as having more obstacles I
cannot fritter my energies on all sundry pursuits and hence prioritise
what's important for me in life.

3. What was your biggest influence to become involved in a martial art like Goju-ryu?

 A : Martial arts has been an innate desire of mine since childhood and has not required any external influence. However my parents who are fitness enthusiasts definitely spurred me towards adopting a more active lifestyle in general.

4. What is your biggest motivation to keep training?

 A : Most definitely the faith of my master and the respect of my seniors.

5. Being unable to see, what method do you use to learn Karate movements?

 A : A new move is taught to me by holding my arms / legs and guiding me through the motion of the move slowly. After this I am explained the need for the move, finer points around the move and where on the opponent's body the impact should occur. Finally I practice the move rapidly under the watchful gaze of the trainer before I am allowed to practice and perfect it on my own. It also helps that I intuitively can understand how to do a move better once the need for a move is clear to me.

5. What has Karate training done for you, not just physically, but also mentally?

A : Physically it has built my core muscles and made me strong and flexible. More importantly, it has made me more calm and respectful of all people in general. It has also made me more disciplined and focused on anything I take up.

6. What does an award like the one you’ve received, mean to you?

 A : It makes me acutely aware that I need to do a lot more to be truly deserving of such honour
 7. What kind of advice would you give to anyone out there, with some form
of disability, who is tentative about trying something like Karate?

A : The only thing you can lose by trying Karate is your flab, your lack of discipline, your weakness of body and spirit. And that can't be too bad!

8. I know there are not much higher honours than receiving an award from the president, but do you have any kind of long term goals which you would like to accomplish in the future, in particular with Karate?

A : My long term aim is to be in an occupation where I can do something meaningful and reach some level of self actualisation. My goal for Karate has always been to be a black belt and keep honing myself.