For ten-year-old Karateka, Kuenyang Yigsel from Paro, practice and constant hard work is all that matters to do well.

Kuenyang Yigsel recently won two gold at the national karate championship in Thimphu. She has won seven medals from international and national karate championships in the last two years.

“I feel like something is missing in me when I don’t practice,” said Kuenyang Yigsel.

The championship, she said, gave her an opportunity to play tough and face opponents with different skills. “We should be prepared if we are to win.”

The national karate championship that ended on  December 28 saw increased number of players, almost by threefold compared with the previous edition.

Last year, the championship saw only about 80 karatekas from six dzongkhags.

More than 270 players from nine dzongkhag of Thimphu, Paro, Samtse, Samdrupjongkhar, Trongsa, Punakha, Trashigang, Punakha, and Chhukha took part in the championship this year.

Winning 13 gold medals, 11 silvers, and eight bronze, team from Samdrupjongkhar won the highest number of medals from the championship, followed by Thimphu.

For Dago Lham from Paro, whose two daughters won four medals – two gold and two silver – karate was encouraged in the family for self-defense.

“Over the years, I realised that Karate also helped them become disciplined while teaching them to respect others,” she said.

Karate may be a growing sport in Bhutan, but the association is faced with challenges.

The association’s joint secretary, Ugyen Wangchuk said that it was difficult to manage the funds. Clubs from the nine dzongkhags under Bhutan Karate Association had to manage their own funds to take part in the national championship

The championship was organised with the fund of Nu 350,000 given to the association by Bhutan Olympic Committee.

Ugyen Wangchuk said that over the years the level of skills among the karate players, mostly students improved greatly. “Especially the level of Kata (a choreographed pattern of movements) is at international level,” he said.

The association also bagged three gold from an invitational tournament held in India recently. So far, karate players from the country have bagged one gold and eight bronze from the South Asian level competitions.

There are more than 3,000 registered karate members with the association today.