The coronavirus pandemic has posed many challenges to the world but some have managed to turn these challenges into opportunities.
When E-commerce and digital marketing expert, Suqrat Ahmed Farooqi, 56, lost his job, he switched gears and devoted his time and energy to his hobby.
He found a way to teach martial arts and breathing exercises to citizens online. The nerves of many young and elderly citizens were relaxed during the coronavirus-mandated lockdowns through Suqrat’s classes.
On fresh turf, Suqrat had worked at an event management company for over 11 years.
But the company terminated 70 per cent of its staff members after public gatherings were restricted during the first wave of coronavirus. Among those who let go was Suqrat.
Before the pandemic hit, he had been providing martial arts training at a club, Prince Martial Arts Academy, but during the lockdown five months of fees from students was also suspended.
He managed to switch the classes online but not all of his students could afford the monthly fee and he continued providing classes without charge.
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The first three months of unemployment passed smoothly for Suqrat, who had some savings. He could even manage to take out charity, he says.
However, soon his finances could afford unemployment no longer and he strived to find gainful employment.
Armed with digital marketing experience, Suqrat tried his hands at search engine optimisation and managed to find international clients.
Soon he was able to make steady earrings and could continue his work as a martial arts trainer. “I had to sell my assets off during these tough times but I didn’t cease providing training club services,” said Suqrat, who feels his students’ enthusiasm more than compensates for the loss of his car.
A healthy exertion Around 700 people, including children, youngsters and the elderly participated in the training offered by Suqrat during his online classes.
Some of his students benefited from the breathing exercises he taught by improving their health - they were able to manage high blood pressure, mental stress and other issues better.
Suqrat claims that the classes also strengthened their respiratory system and as far as he knows none of his students felt the symptoms of the virus.
The closure of public parks and sports complexes had already worried Suqrat for they deprived people of physical activities, which are necessary for a healthy lifestyle, he says.
He says that people want their children to engage in martial arts and other physical activities and sports and step away from mobile phones and gadgets.
He adds that most of the children who joined the Prince Martial Arts Academy had become lazy and dull, both physically and mentally.
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Suqrat upholds that any physical activity or sport helps people improve their mental performance and skills because it improves reflexes.
He himself was inspired by Bruce Lee to learn the martial arts. He learned judo, karate and taekwondo and gained expertise in defence techniques like nunchaku, swordsmanship and stick-fighting and has trained in unarmed combat for the past 20 years.
Moreover, according to Suqrat, unarmed combat skills are specially taught to the armed forces around the globe.
Suqrat claims to have trained many of the Pakistan Rangers personnel in unarmed combat. This story is part of a weekly series that seeks to bring to light the unsung heroes of Karachi - the hawkers, traders, doctors, teachers, engineers, lawyers and daily-wage labourers.
It is they who make Karachi the city of lights.