President Ali commits $10M to aid completion of Guyana Karate College


President Irfaan Ali on Tuesday evening announced that the government will contribute $10M towards the completion of the Guyana Karate College Dojo at Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.

The facility, which has been under construction since 2010 on land made by available by the then President Bharrat Jagdeo, is expected to be fully functional by March 2023.

The announcement by President Ali was met with rapturous applause at the first Gala and Awards ceremony of the College, held on Tuesday evening at New Thriving Restaurant, Providence, East Bank Demerara.

The ceremony was also used to raise funds to complete the structure, which will serve as the headquarters of the International Karate Daigaku, which was formed by legendary Guyanese, Shuseki Shihan (World Chief Master) Frank Woon-A-Tai, and has a presence in 58 countries.

Master Frank Woon-A-Tai (left) and his wife Maureen (right) with President Irfaan Ali and Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr. (Photo: Office of the President)

The Head of State declared that the government will continue to support efforts to aid the completion of the building, highlighting that half of the sum will be made available immediately and the remainder in the new year.

“Because we are committed to what you do, we believe in what you do, we see the positive attributes of what you do,” President Ali told the large gathering of students, parents, well-wishers and special invitees.

“And to all the parents who send your children to karate classes, I want to say to you that this is a positive thing, and you should encourage other children to do so, and other parents to do so too.”

The President added, “It helps to mould the mind in a different way, it helps to strengthen the body, it helps us to understand in a greater way our physical strength and how our physical strength should be used to uplift ourselves, our community and to also help us in self-defence.”

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr. was also recognised for his contributions to karate in Guyana (Photo: Office of the President)

Prior to his address, President Ali was presented with an Honourary 8th Dan Black Belt by Master Woon-A-Tai, a 10th Dan and the founder of the Guyana Karate College.

Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson Jr. was also honoured by Master Woon-A-Tai for his contributions to karate.

Karate for the greater good

Master Woon-A-Tai said his goal for the College aligns with President Ali’s ‘1000 men’ programme that aims to eradicate violence and other ills in communities all across the country.

Master Woon-A-Tai, who began his karate career 58 years ago at the age of 14, lauded the government for its continued investment in the College, and the creation of avenues to expand and promote the discipline.

Young students displaying their skills at the ceremony on Tuesday evening (Photo: Office of the President)

“I further thank your excellency for requesting my help teaching karate to women in every State House compound in Guyana,” the Sensei highlighted.

“I’m confident that within five years, 1,000 students and adults will benefit from the discipline of karate, as a means of empowering men through physical education, fitness and self defence, and as an international sport in which GKC (Guyana Karate College) promotes Sport Tourism, as we have done in the past.”

“I’m very close to achieving my dream of not only building a national karate headquarters, but an international karate university.”

Notably, the International Karate Daigaku World Championship will be hosted in Guyana in 2024.

The Guyana Karate College has 12 affiliate dojos (clubs) in Guyana with an approximate membership of 400.

Students range from beginners (white belts) to advanced (black belts), the highest being Deputy Shihans Josef Woon-A-Tai, 8th Dan and Dr. Guy Low, 7th Dan.

“GKC efforts include using karate to develop empowerment, discipline, focus, health, and educational benefits and opportunities primarily geared towards the youth of Guyana,” a release noted.

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