The martial arts community will be on display at the second edition of the ‘Battle of the Legends’ One Point Black Belt Nisei Open Karate Championships on October 6 at the D.W. Davis Gymnasium.
One of the organizers of the tournament, Grandmaster Alex Penn, said he wanted to stage a black belt championship since 1994 because it would have been innovative. He finally was able to put one on in 2016, and it was deemed a success. In the 2016 event, about 16 black belts took part.
This year, Grandmaster Penn is hoping to have twice as many participants. He said that the event is open to anyone who has the rank of black belt.
Penn said: “Any black belt competitor from here or abroad, as long they are a black belt, they can enter. Any nationality, as long they hold the rank of a black belt which is a dan whether it is first dan, second dan or all the way to fifth dan, they can compete in this black belt championships.”
There are only three Grandmasters in The Bahamas – Chief Grandmaster Frankie Adderley, Grandmaster Kenneth P. Lewis and Grandmaster Penn. Grandmaster Penn said that martial arts in The Bahamas is at a low point and his expectation is for the sport to be much higher. He hopes to get competitors back into the swing of things.
“Karate in The Bahamas is kind of down right now. My expectation for martial arts in The Bahamas is for it to continue to grow. Having these tournaments will help bring competitors out. So far, we had three or four tournaments for the year and now the competitors are starting to come back again,” Penn said.
Penn hopes to form a martial arts association and to have a points system for competitors.
“There is what they call a triangle martial arts association that will be formed soon. That will have point systems that will get the different instructors and different styles of schools together and we would maybe have a calendar of tournaments as of next year. Next year should really be a good year for martial arts. At the end of the year we are hoping to have a point system so that the kids would not have fought in vain. They would get their points at the end of the year and each winner would become The Bahamas State Champion in each division,” Penn said.
There are at least 15 martial arts schools around the island, said Penn. He founded the Bain and Grant’s Town martial arts school and teaches the youngsters in the area. He loves teaching but said he needs help. He is not operating on the scale that he wants to but he said he never stopped teaching kids. Penn has been practicing martial arts since 1975 and has been teaching martial arts since 1986. He has taught 30 black belts in the country today.
Sensei Rio Brice, a second degree black belt and one of Penn’s former students, will be taking part in the One Point Black Belt Championships. He has been studying karate for seven years. This is his first One Point Black Belt Championships event.
He said: “ My competitors have to come with their ‘A’ game because I am coming with mine. I need to train and practice to be on point. I will get the trophy.”
Johnathan Rolle, the 2016 One Point Black Belt Championships winner in his division, will return to defend his crown. Other black belts who will be looking to win are Delrick Carter, Charles Rahming, Rajiv Johnson, DJ Counselor (Corey Rolle), ‘Twin Towers’, Antonez Higgs, Julian Rolle, Master Smokey and the Tribe of Black Belts, Sensei Winston Penn and Jimbo.
Apart from the One Point Black Belt Championships, Penn said there are other divisions and aspects of martial arts that would be competing.
There will also be a black belt five point championship, an open karate championship, weapons fighting, continuous fighting and there is also a kids karate division. The karate divisions will start from four-and-under and go all the way up to 35-and-over. There will also be a masters division and a women’s division.
Penn said a competitor must come through the teacher to participate in the tournament if they are ranked below a black belt. Only black belts can walk in, sign up and participate in the tournament.
Apart from the New Providence fighters, he also expects fighters from Abaco, Freeport, Grand Bahama and the United States to participate in the event.
Interested persons can contact Grandmaster Penn at telephone number (242) 437-5663 for more information.
Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism