THROUGH their rehearsed, gravity-defying and astounding performances, members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police Force (ZRP) mass exhibition team undeniably captivated crowds during the main 42nd Independence Anniversary celebrations held at Barbourfields Stadium in Bulawayo on Monday.
The Morris Depot police team in Harare spread messages revolving around drug and drug abuse among youth, the need to comply with Covid-19 regulations and to get behind the wheel to transform the country into a mid-range economy by 2030 to make income in the upper range.
In one of the exhibitions, a police dog drove and controlled a motorcycle with a police officer as a passenger. In other fascinating performances, one of the performers, dressed like a nurse, danced on the roof of a moving police ambulance.
However, it was Deputy Inspector Wilfred Mashaya, 39, also known as “Zim Ninja,” and his six-year-old son Wilfred (Jr.) who stole the show with their impressive martial arts performances.
Asst Insp Mashaya is a multi-award winning martial artist and instructor at ZRP Morris Depot and has spearheaded the Kobudo revolution which has seen Zimbabwe win over 100 medals in international virtual tournaments over the past year.
He is the only certified ninja in Zimbabwe and holds four black belts in karate, kobudo, ninjutsu and self-defense.
Asst Insp Mashaya is also a Hall of Famer having been inducted into more than five European Halls of Famers. Wilfred (Jr.) follows in his footsteps, having won four gold medals in various international online tournaments.
Last month the youngster, who has been emulating his father, clinched a gold medal at the Malta Online Championship. Wilfred (Jnr), who was among six Zimbabweans taking part in the tournament, beat competition from Russia and Slovakia to win the championship.
This was a big improvement after winning bronze in the same event last year.
Asst Insp Mashaya, and his son in particular, were the center of attraction during Independence Day celebrations, held outside of Harare for the first time since 1980, in line with the Second Republic’s aspirations of decentralization and decentralization.
This year’s independence celebrations along with the children’s party were themed: “[email protected] 42- Leave no one or place behind.”
In an interview yesterday, Asst Insp Mashaya said he was a self-trained martial artist who developed a passion for the sport from a young age. “I trained in martial arts from the age of eight to a stage where I was competing in international tournaments and then winning medals and finally being inducted into the Halls of Fame. I managed to do something very few Zimbabweans have done like be the first certified self-defense instructor in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Asst Insp Mashaya is the first member of the Uniformed Forces to be named Sportsman of the Year and Sportsman of the Year in 2018. He was also the first male Zimbabwean to be crowned Regional Sportsman of the Year.
“I also became the first African world champion in martial arts weapons, known as kobudo. I am also a Hall of Famer inducted into more than five European Halls of Fame namely: Serbia Hall of Fame, Barcelona Hall of Fame, Lisbon Portugal Hall of Fame, Italy Hall of Fame and India Hall of Fame”, he said.
Asst Insp Mashaya said he pioneered various styles of martial arts in Zimbabwe including Kobudo and Ninjutsu and became the first certified ninja in Zimbabwe.
“I hold four black belts in karate, kobudo, ninjutsu and self-defense,” he said. He has also created his own academy called ZimNinja Academy with the aim of sharing his talent with compatriots.
Indeed, as the Covid-19 pandemic continued to ravage the world and unsettled sporting activities, Asst Insp Mashaya thrived when his ZimNinja Academy launched a massive recruitment drive that ultimately saw the institution earn over 100 medals.
In 2020, Asst Insp Mashaya introduced his son to the sport and the six-year-old took the world by storm, winning 12 medals including eight gold, one silver and three bronze.
Several girls who also joined the academy have also won medals.
“Having traveled the world in different countries like Russia, Spain, Italy and Montenegro, I felt it fitting to share my skills with other Zimbabweans. My mission is to make sure I nurture more Zimbabwean champions, including children and the women,” said Asst Insp Mashaya.
“I am happy that women are now coming to my academy and doing well. Some of them win gold medals in virtual tournaments that we participate in. Due to Covid-19 restrictions we are now participating more virtually.”
Asst Insp Mashaya said the children, including his six-year-old son who will turn seven next month, are doing well.
“My son took part in the police demonstrations and wowed the crowd at BF Stadium on Independence Day. My son has also won 15 medals in virtual tournaments, including countries like Russia, Italy, Spain, England, India, Japan and others,” he said.
“I am pleased that at his age he is actually winning medals in weapons, a martial art that was not popular in Africa.”
Asst Insp Mashaya, who was born in Gutu in Masvingo and grew up in the Harare suburb of Mufakose, began coaching his son when he was four years old.
“My son is doing well and is already a world champion in virtual competitions with many gold medals and my goal is to make sure he becomes a world-class champion,” he said.
Asst Insp Mashaya joined the police force in 2009 and has since been based at Morris Depot where he is a martial arts instructor.