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Dec 20, 2011

Belize Games redux: 1993 revisited

It appears as if karate is a blossoming sport in Belize, but in fact it has been practiced for decades. When this station first got on the airwaves twenty years ago, karate was a well-developed contact sport. In 1993 Channel Five reporter David Reid attended one such match in the old capital. The 1993 competition took place inside the old Bliss Institute on Southern Foreshore. Only the stage and the rotunda remain from the original building, but here’s a look back at the Belize Games competition in which you will spot familiar faces.

David Reid [File: 1993]

David Reid

“Fighting usually gets into the news when there is a misunderstanding that gets out of hand and there are grave consequences. Here at the Bliss Institute however, the Belize Games karate contestants are aiming not to be thrown by the occasion or anything else for that matter.”

Though many came along to see a fight, by far the bulk of the competition had no physical contact at all. Participants were judged on kata, a kind of lethal ballet where the dancers postured, threatened and then attacked an imaginary opponent.

Alamina

Better known for her appearance in the Belize Games promotional ads, Alamina is a quiet, modest and polite young woman. It doesn’t take much though for that image to be violently shattered.

Alamina

“The reason why I put such an expression on my face is because that’s the way I feel when I do the kata, the kumite or whatever so I can use more power and strength. So I can’t really smile cause it would be very impolite to the culture. The women of today, you have to be able to do some kind of self defense because I hear on the news that women are being beaten up and maybe this way they can really defend themselves and so they won’t get hurt as much.”

Women aren’t the only people learning self defense nor is age a barrier.

David Reid

“Why do you do karate?”

Karate Competitor

“Because my mother wanted me to do. I watched lot of Bruce Lee when he was fighting and he beat up all of them and he get ripped.”

David Reid

“And do you ever imagine that you are Bruce Lee?”

Karate Competitor

“Yes. And I always try to do what Bruce Lee do.”

Francis Arzu

At the other end of the scale is Francis Arzu. We went through several punishing bouts and fought on with a dislocated finger to win the gold medal. He says the standard of karate in the country is improving all the time.

Francis Arzu

“It continues to get higher ever year. The reason being we have Japanese masters coming to Belize three times a year. So it is getting higher ever year.”

Arzu’s injury demonstrates how dangerous karate can be. Though Arzu who is training to be a vet managed to fix his own injury, there was always a doctor on hand. In fact there was even a doctor in the competition. He sees no contradiction between mending bones and breaking them.

Dr. Figueroa

Dr. Figueroa

“The whole idea behind martial arts, behind karate; is one of discipline, self control and I think that is very important especially in modern day life and we require it as a means of controlling stress.”

David Reid

“Does anyone ever get hurt?”

Dr. Figueroa

“Occasionally but it is not really serious. You don’t get seriously hurt except sometimes occasionally in higher belts like black belts and brown belts. In those cases you might get hurt kinda seriously.”

David Reid

“So it is always useful to have a doctor in the house?”

Dr. Figueroa

“Yes you can say that.”

Ironically, the good doctor himself needed medical attention when on the way to the gold, he dislocated his finger. Injuries aside, the karate competition went well. Participants of all areas and both sexes performed with discipline and control as they showed karate to be an art and not the mindless violence it is sometimes portrayed to be. David Reid for News Five.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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