Hand wraps, boxing gloves, punching bags. These might seem like tools for the sport of boxing, but no. Head guards, striking pads, body shields, and kicking targets. Kick boxing? Close. It’s Wushu Sanda, a form of kung fu martial arts.
Even though she had learned karate from her father, it never crossed her mind that she would join this beautiful and powerful form of martial arts. All she knew about Wushu was what she had seen on TV. The day that she put on the complete outfit for Wushu training was like a dream.
Tariza was just 7 years old when she started training in martial arts. She worked hard under her father Didi’s tutelage. Didi is a karate instructor for some dojos and secondary schools in Ambarawa, a small town in Central Java Province of Indonesia.
Tariza enjoyed the training and as any young athlete would, she took it very seriously because she knew that her father knew what was best in overseeing her progress. Her years of karate training provided a good foundation for her to start other types of martial arts.
“It’s like a usual day when I was trained by Dad,” she explains. And it didn’t come without physical hardships.
She would get up early in the morning and sometimes run 5 km a day on feet so swollen she could barely squeeze them into her shoes. She now buys shoes one size bigger than her feet require.
But Tariza is used to training with limited facilities. One pair of socks, one pair of shoes that function both as training shoes and school shoes, borrowed hand gloves from one of her father’s dojos, and eating any food available at home that her mother cooks for the day.
With her family’s limited income, Tariza has to be content with what she already considers to be abundance for her. She never complains because she understands that her parents’ blessings are enough and she is grateful for them. Her father’s income from karate training just cannot support the basic needs of an advanced athlete in training.
This challenging situation has made Tariza wiser in using the existing equipment she already has — things such as buying school shoes that can be used as running shoes, though it makes the shoes wear out faster compared to normal activities for students at her school. It’s no wonder that each time her parents buy her a new pair of shoes, she always prays that they will last a little bit longer before they are broken. Despite being limited, she keeps training hard for her love of the martial art sport.
By the time she was twelve, Tariza was introduced to Wushu Sanda. She has been training since then with Wushu Junior athletes.
“I’m planning to go pro at the age of 16,” Tariza says. That’s now just two years away.
When she was focusing on karate, she could use her father’s karate equipment. But that equipment wouldn’t suffice for Wushu, so when she started her training, she needed help. Her local Compassion Child Development Center (CDC) stepped in.
Tariza’s passion and above-average skill was noticed by the center’s staff. And after an initial survey by the staff members, they decided what she needed.
Theo, the coordinator for her CDC, said, “First we discussed with her parents about what she needed. Then we created an intervention program and wrote a proposal to Compassion for approval.”
Providing her with good-quality equipment for training was one of first aspects of their intervention. Other aspects included additional nutritional food and coaching in her “My Plan for Tomorrow.” “My Plan for Tomorrow” is a folder each child creates, typically around the age of twelve, where they record yearly goals. At the end of each year the children evaluate their achievements with the staff.
The staff members at the CDC ensure Tariza receives additional nutrition through this special intervention program, as well as healthy meals at the center. She also receives additional vitamins and food supplements specifically for her needs.
A team made up of Didi, Theo and her mentor coaches her. This has been established to help her progress in reaching her goal: excellence in school and sport.
Tariza showed her achievements by winning two Wushu regional championships for students. In both, she was the first place winner in the junior class for female Wushu. She has proven that she deserves better and safer equipment to conduct her training.
Although Tariza harbors Olympic-sized dreams, she also wants to become a trainer or teacher of Wushu.
“I love the sport and will focus on it,” Tariza says.
Excellence in school is a top priority too. She takes her schooling as serious as her sport, as she believes that formal education is needed for everyone.
“I never skip school due to my training, but I will ask permission if there is championship to follow,” she continues.
Attending Compassion activities at the church after school twice a week is also mandatory, and Tariza really enjoys it.
“I have new friends and learn things I didn’t get at school, such as having a good attitude and values through Compassion’s curriculum,” she says. “I am really thankful for the opportunity to be enrolled in the Compassion center. I love the care shown by the staff and my sponsor.”
She wants to express her gratitude through her faithful attendance to project activities.
“I hope to be able to make my parents proud, as I know they sacrifice lots of things for me,” Tariza explains.
Her dream of a better life has helped her endure hard training, in which she and other male junior Wushu athletes have limited free time, as other teenagers their age have.
Her story is not over yet.
She has just begun to create a history of her own, taking one step of life at a time. She is experiencing God’s goodness along the way, through godly people in the church. Although Muslim by birth, Tariza always prays in the name of Isa (Jesus), that God will grant her favor and allow her to taste victory after victory in her life.