Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Caribbean Study Tour

Just returned from my tour studying the Diaspora of West African Martial Arts throughout the Caribbean.

The highlight was my interview with Sifu Wayne Quintyne of Bridgetown, Barbados. Sifu Wayne graciously met with me to discuss his study of Barbados "Sticklicking". During the course of the time I spent with him, he showed me videotapes of interviews he had conducted with now deceased master of this system complete with demonstrations of various techniques. Pictures of showing me rare antique Guava wood fighting sticks will be up on the website soon.

What interested me greatly was his take on the use of Christian rituals in the Caribbean to replace the rites of passage for boys into becoming African warriors. The ritual of Christian confirmation at the time of puberty emphasizes "turning the other cheek". This, he believes, led to a repugnance to violent activities such as stick fighting, which in turn, led to the demise of the art and the lack of information being safeguarded. He is currently working on a film documentary about the Bajan art.

While in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, I was unable to connect with Ron "The Dragon" Van Klief, Chinese Goju Karate master, martial arts movie star and the oldest competitor ever to enter the UFC Octagon, who has relocated there. I will be following up with him to ascertain the state of Caribbean Arts in this US territory.

Despite contacting the Minister of Culture and the St. Lucia Folklore Centre, no evidence was unearthed about arts on the Island of St. Lucia. The same situation was found in Dominica when corresponding with scholar and historian, Dr. Honychurch.

I will continue to work with Prof. Desch-Obi of Baruch College of NYC to ascertain if my research can be of assistance to him. His definitive work,"FIghting for Honour", is a must read for those interested in this area of hoplology.

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