President Irfaan Ali, awarded an Eighth Degree Black Belt
-Pledges $2M for completion of Dojo
His Excellency, Dr. Mohammed Irfaan Ali last week was presented with a Honourary International Karate Daigaku (IKD University) Eighth Degree Black Belt for his support of traditional Karate in Guyana by , Shuseki Shihan (Master of Masters) Frank Woon-A-Tai, M.S, M.H.
Master Frank who is Guyana’s most decorated karate master and a 10th dan, is also the founder of the Guyana Karate College (GKC), paid a courtesy call on the President of Guyana.
Dr. Ali reminded Master Frank that he trained with him as a youth at the Japan Karate Association (JKA) of Guyana, YMCA dojo.
The Ninth and Tenth dan are reserved for karate masters of large international karate organisations in at least 25 countries. The eighth dan is awarded to world leaders, while the seventh dan is granted to Government Ministers.
In addition, Frank presented President Ali with a signed copy of his Book, Shu-Ha-Ri: My Life in Japanese Karate. Frank’s Memoirs document his life from a child in Guyana to a world-renowned karate leader of 80 regions in 58 countries in a fantastic ten years.
Frank began karate at age 14 in 1964 and began teaching in 1968, working his way up to now heading 58 countries and has 58 years of karate under his belt.
The visit was Frank’s first meeting with Dr Ali as President. He met him briefly, twice, when he was Minister of Housing and Water.
Frank said, “he was very accommodating, amiable, humble, and made me feel at ease. He sat on the couch next to me, and I asked if I was sitting on his chair?" He laughingly responded, "not at all.”
During the meeting, President Ali pledged a $2 million to Frank for electrical works to complete the dojo to a “functional level” and committed to assisting him in raising the remaining $8 million.
President Ali has also assured that the GKC, a non-profit association, would be exempt from vat on building supplies and duty-free on all equipment. Moreover, the Ministry of Housing and Water will be redesigning the front of the building making it more modern, on the request of the Head of State.
Frank thanked His Excellency for the generous assistance and stated his mission at the college is to, “guide young people in the right direction, keep them off drugs and the street, break the cycle of crime and violence and empower them to succeed in life.”
Frank will also be embarking on another project, heading a National Karate Project on the request of Dr. Ali.
Meanwhile newly appointed Patron of the Guyana Karate College (GKC), Captain Gerry Gouveia, A.A., for his assistance in making it possible for him to meet Dr. Ali.
In an earlier meeting with Frank, Captain Gouveia pledged a donation of $1 million to be secured from himself and his business colleagues, to cover the cost of all plumbing works.
DDL and the late Dr. Yesu Persaud donated the windows and doors before his passing.
Frank has completed his Canadian tour of Riverview, New Brunswick, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Bruce Mines, Sault Ste. Marie, Toronto, Ontario, and Saint Jerome, Quebec, conducting seminars, gradings and camps. Besides Guyana, this is his first tour since the lull in the Covid-19 Pandemic in two years. He returns to Guyana in a few weeks to complete the dojo pending approval from the Land Registry Court. He will remain in Guyana until November, and then he has to tour Australia.