Dera Ismail Khan: Muhammad Ifran Mehsud’s name was added to the Guinness World Record (GWR) for his unbeatable Kung Fu skills. His biggest achievement came for breaking five records consecutively in the year 2016, said Malik Iftikhar, president of Pakistan and South Asia Wushu Federation.

The Guinness World Records (GWR), the global authority on record breaking achievements, approved Mehsud’s records for, “The most full contact knee strikes in one minute using one leg is 87.” The rest of his records include most pushup (one leg raised, carrying 40lb pack) in one minute is 31, the most knuckle pushups (carrying 40-lb pack) in one minute is 26, the most knuckle pushups (one leg raised carrying a 40-lb pack) in one minute is 21, and the most pushups (one leg raised and carrying an 80-lb pack) in one minute is 21. He achieved these records during July to October in 2016.

Irfan Mehsud during practice

Pittsburgh Kung Fu, specializing in the Northern Kung Fu System, deems the term Kung Fu to an art that includes hundreds of styles of Chinese martial arts. Strikes are crucial to Kung Fu. A strike is a direct physical attack with a part of the human body and has many variants.

Mehsud, 26, is an MPhil student from Ladha, a dusty hamlet in the militancy-plagued South Waziristan tribal region. It was much of a surprise for Iftikhar.

“I was really stunned to know that a person from the tribal region and whose family has been displaced has emerged at the global arena,” he exclaimed.

In his chat with News Lens, Mehsud recalled that his parents had to migrate to Dera Ismail Khan, a district on the border of South Waziristan tribal region in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, because of clashes between Pakistani security forces and militants.

Mehsud termed his achievement as a “Record Title Holder” as a life turning event. He said there are no limitations on a player to break the record on any given day. “My predecessor had maintained the record for one and a half year until I broke it in October,” he added. Mehsud broke the record of another Pakistani too. Ahmad Amin Bodla was the record holder for making 79 strikes in one minute while Mehsud got 87 strikes in the same time. Bodla belongs to Punjab province of Pakistan.

The annual Guinness World Records Book examines, verifies and documents the ground breaking achievements from around the world. Making a new award is a rigorous process. GWR states that it receives more than 1,000 applications each week.  “First you need to open an account on GWR website and then fill the given application form. The GWR management approves your record for go ahead,” Mehsud advised future contenders. All that the GWR requires from a new applicant for making a record is to shoot a slow motion video from front and side while performing. “I performed in my small club with around 30 people in attendance in Dera Ismail Khan,” he recalled.

Mehsud recalled drawing inspiration from Jackie Chan, a renowned Chinese martial arts player known for Kung Fu art. Chan had the grit that kept him going despite any given challenges. He persevered and taught his art when he didn’t have a proper building for training.

Mehsud dreams to improve his skills, train and mentor the future players. “I want to build a martial arts academy to prepare pupils to perform outstandingly,” he added.

Mehsud’s dream comes at an opportune time as Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) revised its National Sports Policy 2005. The policy aims for promotion of sports at grass root level. The declining standards of sports in the country, the policy stated, has deeply concerned the government to take remedial measures to remove flaws and bottlenecks for smooth functioning of the sports institutions and revive the booming past.

Sadly for Mehsud and his ilk, the PSB policy is silent about the promotion of Kung Fu in the country.

Soon after the Pakistani military declared parts of South Waziristan tribal region purged of militants, repatriation of thousands of displaced families is underway in the region, once regarded as the most dangerous place on earth.

Iftikhar said the world was hearing about militancy and extremism only from the Pakistani tribal region but the emergence of Irfan Mehsud as a budding player clearly depicts that “the area has matchless talent but needs to be explored.” Iftikhar said he would personally “leave no stone unturned” to promote Mehsud because he has faced challenges boldly at a time when he was leading his life in displacement.

Habib Ullah, another Kung Fu player, said that Mehsud would emerge as a “global star” in Kung Fu world if he gets good training, equipment and level playing field. “Mehsud is the person who introduces Wushu Kung Fu to this part of the country,” he remarked.

Mehsud said that currently he is getting daily exercise in a rented mud-built house yet he is determined to project the soft image of the country in the world. However, he plans to go abroad for advance training if the government supports him. “I’m leading a hard life with limited resources and have no support from the government,” he added hoping, he is provided with “direly needed equipment and building” so that he is able to take part in global competitions and bring achievements home.

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