Angels in Red
on MAR. / 23 / 2011 | 0 comments
by Erica Linthorst
Travels took me to the Washington Heights section in New York City, at one time a location inhabited by gangs. Instead, on this day, there were awards and non-stop demos by some of the most determined young people you’ll ever see in the martial arts.
It was the 6th Annual Junior Guardian Angels Recognition and Celebration event, sponsored by leader Dennis “Superstretch” Torres. Sometimes fighting for their lives, always fighting for their dignity and self-respect, and to make the community better and safer for everyone, these very remarkable students practice their techniques seriously and with commanding authority. Until making it to the community center where they now practice, there were times in their history when the parks and streets, rooftops and basements served as their classroom. With strong leadership and a “never give up” attitude, Torres’ disciples emit strength of character, and both great commitment and discipline.
Among the many notable honorees were Dr. Sainz (a local area high school assistant principle) who said, “All children need martial arts for the discipline, self-control, and respect.” Sensei Pete Diaz, who runs “Karate for Christ”, applauding the students said, “Hard work pays off.” The world-renowned founder of Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa, was also in attendance and was proud to see how this school had evolved. He urged the students to stay in school to learn the basics – Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Respect. Also present were, famed Master Maurice Elmalem (the premier breaking martial artist in the world), “Mo” MahalielBethea of “Empty Hands” notoriety, Senseis Luis Matos and Song Thai, and Grandmasters Jackson and Reno Morales
At the end of the day, “Superstretch” reminded his students – “If you train weak, then you’re weak-minded.” He told the audience “Where champions are made, fools walk away.” That’s the image of a proud leader! For more information on the program, please contact: Director Torres at the Guardian Angels Community Service Center, 718-781-8194.
Author, Master Erica Linthorst with Curtis Sliwa and Master Jackson.