By: Jermine Abel, SKNVibes.com
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – DESPITE its small geographical and population size, St. Kits and Nevis has been making a big impact internationally through its sons and daughters in the academic and sports arenas, among other areas.
This time, however, it is once again in the area of sports as a son of the soil was bestowed with a prestigious award for his contributions to Martial Arts.
He is 61-year-old Alwin Richards, who was recently inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
SKNVibes Entertainment spoke with the jovial Richards, who hailed from Sandy Point but resides with his family in the United States of America.
Recounting his early life, the Martial Art guru explained that he was once an aspiring teacher who grew up in the town of Sandy Point reading magazines and books about Karate and watching popular Chinese films.
“Back in 1973, a movie came out with Bruce Lee and it was popular on the island. Karate was just getting popular on the island. It was also for that reason I would want to be a teacher and an instructor. And seeing that I didn’t make it in school, I grab hold of that opportunity and made the best of it.”
At age 17, he took the bold step of venturing down the road of Taekwondo, not as a sport for personal gains or self defence, but rather to “teach it more as a sport to those who were interested”.
According to the Martial Arts exponent, “Back in those days, people used to go to the movies and then go and practice in the bushes or on the grounds what they would have seen. People would also buy books and try to learn from them. During those times, Karate was popular and it was wanted by most people…maybe because of the movements of those people.”
Migrating to the US approximately 27 years ago, it was never an easy road for Richards, as he described it as being very and demanding when it came to competing in the sport he loves.
With the large number of competitors and frequent competitions, Richards stated that it was very difficult to get under the spotlight in making it to the highest level of the sport.
“Because it was a bigger country there were more people competing and there were many different styles and various rankings in Martial Arts. So the competition is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination.”
Attaining the induction, he intimated that it was no easy feat, reiterating that it was difficult to reach the top, but receiving the honour was the ultimate goal.
“Even though I hang up my suit, it doesn’t mean that it is the end of the road. It simple means that I was placed in a position where the people can now see the hard work that I put in…it would allow people to recognize the work that I am doing.
“This is a great international recognition allow me to share where I came from and where I am at, and where I want to continue to go. I want people to use this as an inspiration to reach to the top.”
He wants the youths of St. Kitts and Nevis to take up the sport as a means of discipline and inspiration to make a change within their communities.
Richards pointed out that he does not want people to take it up because they would have lost a fight, but rather use it as an inspiration and a means for fitness.
“It should not be for that purpose, but it can be used for that purpose. I would not encourage any instructor on the island to use it for self defence, because at that point you would be the martial artiste versus the law. I would say teach the martial art more as a sport and physical fitness for the mentality of the people.”
During his early days, Richards taught at a number of schools in both St. Kitts and Nevis, including at the Edu-taekwando – which is a educational aspect of the sport.
He is popularly known as Master Richards and was one of the founding members/director at the Edu-taekwendo Center.