Professor Francis back in Guyana for Martial Arts workshop & grading
By Sean Devers
Fifty-six year old Trinidadian Martial Arts Professor Christopher Francis is once again in Guyana for a four-day workshop and grading at the National Gymnasium based Black Hawks Martial Arts Management Network Association.
The 10th Dan Black Belt Martial Artist holds a PHD in Martial Arts History and another in the method and Science of Martial Arts which he gained two months ago from the University of Asian Martial Arts Studies in
Los Angeles, USA.
He is associated with 140 Organizations around the World and is the Goodwill Ambassador to the Caribbean for Martial Arts, having trained in countries like Korea, England, USA, Porto Rico, Bangkok and the Philippines.
Professor Francis told Kaieteur Sport yesterday that he will be working along with local Black Belt Martial Arts teacher, Sensei Garfield Newton before grading the about 30-40 students on Sunday before he heads to the airport to leave Guyana.
Newton who has been involved in teaching Martial Arts for the last 17 years, said the Black Hawks Martial Arts Management Network Association has about 60 students from age five upwards adding that the interest for the sport is very high among the students, most of whom are from ‘the not so fortunate’ communities.
Francis has been coming here for the past nine years and disclosed that everything is voluntary. He only charges for the seminar he conducts and says he conducts a similar programme in Trinidad.
“Nine years ago Sensei Garfield asked Professor Reuben Torres in the USA for me to come to Guyana and assist with the development of Martial Arts here and as the Martial Arts Goodwill Ambassador to the Caribbean I have been coming here on my own expense,” Professor Francis explained.
The Professor said that once participants are attending school, before they qualify to be graded they must submit their end of term academic result, have a report done by Sensei Garfield on his observations of their overall performance and recommendation for their promotion in addition to testimony from their parents on their behavior at home.
The successful students will then have to pass a practical and theoretical test in addition to an endurance programme to test the strength of their minds. According to Francis a Black belt is a white belt who never quits.
“I feel that by getting the kids involved in Martial Arts at a young age we can help to reduce crime and keep them off the streets when they get older. This is a service to the nation and can literally save someone’s life. I tell youths from depressed areas to put down the guns, pick up the books, get involved in sport and rise to prominence,” Francis said.
“The discipline, determination and patriotism I have seen here among the students over the years is what brings be back. This programme gives kids who cannot afford to pay to join some of the other Martial Arts schools an opportunity to make something out of their lives. We try to save one child at a time each day,” Francis, who arrived in Guyana yesterday, said.
Francis wrote the CXC syllabus for the subject of Martial Arts in 2001 and is presently working to ensure the syllabus is being used for sports development around the Caribbean.
Francis, who won 14 World Championships and defended them 26 times, retired last January as the undisputed World Martial Arts Champion in the Grand Masters division and said he was fortunate to have gotten involved in Martial Arts at age six.
“In 1963 my father, who was a truck driver for a Chinese couple’s Farm in Trinidad was going through a divorce with my mom who then left for England. He would entrust me to the Chinese couple every weekend and they taught me Martial Arts. I can also speak fluent Chinese and Japanese,” Francis revealed.
“We are also grateful to the Kaieteur News for helping to promote this programme in a big way since it first began. Students from Region one would come to the City and tell us they learnt of the sessions from the Kaieteur News,” Francis added.
The Black Hawks Martial Arts Management Network Association is open to anyone older than five years old and the registration fee is $1,500 with a monthly membership fee of $1,000 which Sensei Garfield says goes to funding for gear.
He disclosed that the National Gymnasium has been made available free of charge to his club by Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports through the help of Deputy PS Steve Ninvalle.
Classes are held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with classes for Juniors held from 17:00hrs to 19:00hrs and from 19:00hrs to 21:00hrs for seniors and Sensei Garfield encouraged anyone interested in becoming a Martial Artist (a combination of multiple disciplines combined) to join the club.