‘A’ Division using karate to mould future generations

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By Avenash Ramzan 

Guyana’s 9th Dan Black Belt, Master Frank Woon-a-Tai, believes that karate has the ability to break the cycle of crime and violence. It is against this backdrop that the Guyana Karate College (GKC) has partnered with the ‘A’ Division of the Guyana Police Force as part of its social crime prevention strategy.

During a well-attended session on Saturday at the Police Sports Club ground, Eve Leary, youths from 21 communities stretching from Georgetown to the East Bank Demerara corridor participated in a karate session hosted by the GKC under the guidance of Master Woon-a-Tai and his team.

‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken (centre) and Master Frank Woon-a-Tai (second right) strike a pose with representatives of other stakeholder bodies

“We’re here because we believe that the Guyana Karate College can help young people at risk, or not at risk, to find direction in life, keep them off drugs on the streets, and to help to break the cycle of crime and violence,” Master Woon-a-Tai, who is also the founder of the International Karate Daigaku, related.

Those sentiments by Master Woon-a-Tai form the base of ‘A’ Division’s move to use this form of unarmed combat to tackle a societal scourge.

According to ‘A’ Division Commander Clifton Hicken, youth groups were formed within 21 communities in 2014, and the youngsters have so far been involved in Mashramani and other cultural activities, cricket, football, Christmas celebrations and community outreaches.

Saturday’s session was another step in helping to mould the young boys and girls into well-rounded individuals, who can make positive contributions to the development of the country.

“Community development is based on what the communities need and we’ve been doing that through the community leaders. Recently, we have been cooperating with the private sector, through the ministry also, (and) a lot of NGOs,” Hicken noted.

The Guyana Karate College members were out in their numbers

He added, “Master Woon-a-Tai probably observed what we’re doing for the children and he invited us for a meeting. Coming out of that meeting we managed to coordinate and join forces with EPIC to ensure the Juvenile Holding Centre at Sophia is now doing karate classes on a weekly basis under the auspices of the Police and EPIC and from the Karate College.”

EPIC is an acronym that stands for Enhance Potential, Inspire Change. Executive Director Brian Backer pointed out that the organisation has done tremendous work at the Juvenile Centre in Sophia, and what it has found is that many youths are the victims of a lack of guidance and discipline.

“We’ve also found that part of the youth crime is also fuelled by some types of social dysfunction, and as a result of them we’ve started to go into some of the communities to address the problems that occur,” Backer stated.

Over 200 children, drawn from 21 communities within Georgetown and the East Bank of Demerara, gathered to learn the fundamentals of karate, as instructed by members of the GKC.

By its very definition, karate is an oriental system of unarmed combat using the hands and feet to deliver and block blows, widely practiced as a sport. Apart from self defence, karate forges, among other things, fitness, respect, discipline, confidence, improved flexes, flexibility and endurance.

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