Like many young children, Kimya and Nika Najafi were fascinated watching their father, Ali.
Karate had long been a staple of Ali Najafi’s life.
Back home in his native Iran, Najafi had represented his country as a member of the Iranian national team.
Najafi eventually moved from Iran to Canada, settling in Langley with his wife Kamelia — who also trains in karate and is a second degree black belt — where both daughters were born.
And when the girls were seven and six years old, respectively, they convinced their father to train them in the sport.
“It was really cool seeing him practise at home,” explained Kimya about what drew them to karate. “We were intrigued and wanted to do it too. And we really enjoyed it.”
They began by training at the family’s Langley home.
And as his daughters’ interest in karate flourished, the girls hounded their father to open his own dojo.
Thus began the KimNik Shotokan Karate Academy.
Shotokan karate is a traditional Japanese martial art.
It began with three families and about 10 students and in the eight years since it opened its doors, has grown to about 140 students.
Kimya and Nika have already stated their desire to one day take the dojo over — after all, it is named after them with KimNik a combination of the two girls’ names. But before that, there is still plenty left for them to accomplish in the sport.
Kimya is now 15 — she turns 16 in a few months — while Nika turned 14 last month.
“I really enjoy the mental and physical challenge,” Nika explained, adding it is a great workout and teaches self-discipline.
Kimya added that the sport teaches relaxation, introspection, discipline, focus and determination — traits which can all be used in every day life.
They train four days a week — and once a week for their other sport, synchronized skating, with the Lower Mainland Synchronized Skating Club — and both girls have also progressed to first degree black belts, the lowest level of 10 for the black belt.
And last week, the pair were part of a Canadian contingent which attended a youth camp and then the World Karate Federation Youth Cup.
“It is a privilege to be able to represent my country,” Nika said prior to their trip to Croatia.
“Go there and display what Canada has.”
“I never really expected this,” Kimya admitted.
And competing at an international event is a long way from the girls’ first competition.
The first time the girls were in a competition, they admitted to nerves — just the fact so many people they did not know were now watching them. But that is no longer the case.
While Croatia was their first international experience, the siblings hope it is not the last as they would love to one day compete in the Olympic Games.
Karate could be offered at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo if it is approved at next month’s International Olympic Committee meeting.
Gary Ahuja Langley Times
Langley sisters Kimya (right) and Nika Najafi are both first degree black belts. They first took up karate — following their father into the sport —about eight years ago. The were in Croatia last week for the World Karate Federation Youth Cup.