Author Topic: An Artist of the Martial Kind, Teaching Peace  (Read 1989 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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An Artist of the Martial Kind, Teaching Peace
« on: May 13, 2010, 01:18:34 pm »
from the NEW YORK TIMES:

Experience Necessary
An Artist of the Martial Kind, Teaching Peace
Published: May 12, 2010

Abdul Aziz, a martial arts practitioner for 45 years and a karate sensei for 25, likens his hands to two protective, potentially deadly weapons. Mr. Aziz, 53, who grew up in Claremont Village in the South Bronx, began practicing at age 8. For the last decade he has taught karate to children at the Harlem Childrenís Zoneís Truce Nutrition and Fitness Center. (ďTruceĒ stands for The Renaissance University for Community Education.) He also teaches for the New York City Housing Authority. He lives in the Bronx.

Abdul Aziz, 53, a martial arts practitioner at the Harlem Childrenís Zoneís Truce Nutrition and Fitness Center, with a student.
Mr. Aziz, who grew up in Claremont Village in the South Bronx, began practicing at age 8.

The no-frills karate kid: I was this Chihuahua type of kid, a big mouth with a little body and a fighterís attitude. Thank God I got into martial arts, because all my energies was negative; I wasnít a bully, but I did fight a lot. It was a tough, gang-riddled neighborhood; for a time, I was in the Black Spades.

Brother as teacher: My older brother, Yahkie Allah Sensei, was the ultimate street fighter. I learned my first karate from him. By 16, I was teaching in my own dojo in the perambulator room at the projects, you know, where the baby strollers and bicycles were kept. They let us use it for classes.

Karate masters who mattered most: Besides my brother, it was Derrick Williams: in 1978 he took me to my first tournament and helped me to visualize winning. Of course there was Grand Master Reno Morales, and Grand Master Nathaniel McBride. And Abdul Hakim Bilal. He gave me my aikido training and got me off the streets and into competitions in my teens when I was on the wrong path. Now Iím a sixth-degree black belt in five different martial arts systems.

Do no harm: I hit somebody on the street, I go to jail in five seconds.

Setbacks: My worst injuries are a compressed radial nerve that paralyzed my hand for a year; a stroke in 1999; another stroke in 2006 that left me with blood vessel damage in my head, so I had to quit fighting in 2007.

Sensei of many names: My born name is Charles E. Williams Jr. I changed it to Kendu Allah when I was 12 and thought I was God. I was a Muslim, but not a true Muslim. My father was on his deathbed when my youngest son was born 21 years ago, and he begged me to call him Charles E. Williams III, so I did. No, my son hasnít changed his name! I have five biological children and four steps. Iíve been divorced twice.

In 1993, I went to a service at the mosque, and it was like the imam was speaking to me, like God sent me a message through him; thatís when I changed my name to Abdul Aziz and became a full-fledged Muslim. Only Allah is Allah.

Dojo etiquette: Anybody can teach someone how to kick and punch someone else in the face. I call what I do positive effect training. My biggest thrill is that over 300 of my students went on to college after they left me. None of the males in my class can wear their pants hanging off their butt: I am like an Olympic coach about that. No negativity. No bitterness. Sure, my kids are dangerous: Iíve got little 8-year-old girls in my class who could knock a grown man out. And good for them; it keeps them safe on the streets. But karate also teaches character. Karate is the art of fighting without actually fighting. Or starting the fight. Karate ni sente nashi: there is no first attack in karate.