For a girl to chase her chain snatchers and bash them up is not something you hear every day. So, when Chinmayee Bhuiyan did that, she justifiably made it to headlines and even earned a nickname for herself, ‘Akira of Odisha’! Overnight, this karate girl became a role model for many. But Chinmayee isn’t just a ‘one incident wonder’. It is her outlook towards life and women empowerment that sets her apart, making her a source of inspiration for girls her age.
Excerpts from an interview:
What makes you such a confident young girl?
I live in a big joint family with around 30 members. I am the only daughter of my parents and I have a younger brother. My father, Khirod Kumar Bhuiyan, has always considered me his eldest son, not daughter. He has always encouraged me and given me the freedom to take my own decisions. My mother, Manjulata Bhuiyan also has supported me throughout. I think the confidence in my personality comes from their upbringing and the values they have inculcated in me.
How did you end up learning karate?
After matriculation from St Xaviers’ School, when I joined Maharishi College of Natural Law, I enrolled myself as an NCC cadet. In a short span of time, I also became a shooting medalist, a flying cadet and the Commander of Odisha. I am also the Commander of Dare Devil. I was sent to Utkal Karate School for training by my college itself. Since I too was passionate about karate, I grabbed the chance and started my training. Currently, I am a brown belt but my goal is to achieve a black belt soon.
Who has been your inspiration?
Hari Prasad Pattanayak, the owner of Utkal Karate School has been my mentor and the source of my inspiration. He is the one behind my confidence. I also look up to my NCC Sir, Flying Officer Mihir Ranjan Saran who motivated me to learn karate.
Besides a brown belt, what are the other achievements you have managed so far?
It has been almost two and a half years since I am learning karate. I am already a gold medalist and have been winning the Karate All India Open for the last two years. I am also the gold medalist in the state and have been selected for the Nationals to be held in Goa next year. I have won Bronze medal in shooting. I am also a Flying Cadet and have an All India 3rd Rank. I have even flown an airplane to Bangalore.
What are the things you have learnt during your karate training?
First of all, we are taught how to build up confidence and never to panic, whatever be the situation. It is all about how one should handle a situation and react accordingly. Panicking means that you are giving up. Another important thing is how one should take right decisions at the right time. Only physical fitness is not everything, one should also possess mental awareness in every situation. Let us take my case. When I was chasing those three persons, they were kicking at me. So I guessed they may not be having any weapons like knife or gun with them. I got more confident after that and that is how I used my presence of mind.
Women and girls nowadays are not that interested in self-defence. What could be the reason?
Actually, the fact is today’s women are getting more dependent on the male members in their family, be it their father, brother or husband. I think, being a girl, we should not rely on anyone. We should be confident enough to face the situation ourselves and that’s where self-defence can come to our rescue.
How many girls do you think have been taught karate in Odisha till date?
Statistics, as of now say that over five lakh girls of Odisha have already learnt karate. Each district has 50-60 master trainers like me who have taken training from Utkal Karate School. A master trainer is supposed to train the students of every school and college in the district. Training also includes helping a student develop self-confidence.
Like music, art and dance, do you think self defence should also be made compulsory in schools and added as a subject?
Yes, of course. I totally agree to it. This request has also been sent to the Department of Higher Education, Government of Odisha. We can have a self defence class for half an hour every week, like we have music, art or dance classes.
Is the state government doing anything regarding self defence?
The department of Higher Education, Government of Odisha has given the responsibility of training girls and women of the state to Utkal Karate School. And we are all part of the programme.
Eve-teasing and crime cases against women are on the rise. What would be your advice to the women community?
‘React’ is the word that each woman and girl should know and remember too. One must react as and when required, in such a way that the opponent thinks twice before attacking you. For instance, if someone is following you and moves forward to attack you, the first ‘reaction’ of yours should be screaming and shouting. This will lower the confidence of the attacker and also alert the people around you about the situation. Hence, reaction towards the crime is a must.
Not everyone does what you did to your chain snatchers. Where did you get the guts from?
All credit goes to Utkal Karate School and my team. The mind training they have given me is the source of my bravery. My teacher, Hari Prasad Pattanayak, has taught me that life is for once and so if one dies, he dies only once and not a hundred times. So, why fear? I think I am trying my best to follow his advice.
What are your future plans?
I have always dreamt of being an IPS officer and I have started my preparation for the same.