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'Parents, why do we have to work harder?'' he yelled. ''Because we're black,'' they..

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    'Parents, why do we have to work harder?'' he yelled. ''Because we're black,'' they..

    Police Cmdr. Lorenzo Whitehead has his hands full with more than 50 children regularly attending his karate class.

    Cop kicks up kids' self-esteem
    A police officer shares karate -- and many life lessons -- with kids in the Liberty Square housing project.


    Lorenzo ''Rennie'' Whitehead paced around his circle of pupils, a group of 50 students at the Liberty Square Academy of Martial Arts. The oldest was 18, the youngest was 4.

    Whitehead, the hanshi, looked to the parents lined up against the wall.

    ''Parents, why do we have to work harder?'' he yelled. ''Because we're black,'' they muttered in unison.

    It's easy to forget Whitehead isn't just a hanshi, the teacher of teachers.

    He's commander of the Miami Police Department's gritty North District.

    He started giving free martial arts lessons in March to help his students understand they don't have to succumb to the negative influences in Liberty Square, a crime-ridden Miami housing project known as the Pork 'n' Beans. His goal: teach them that with self-control and respect, they can accomplish anything.

    ''Karate taught me I didn't have to be hanging out with Slick Rick,'' Whitehead said.

    Working in Liberty Square is a homecoming for Whitehead. The neighborhood still struggles with many of the problems Whitehead witnessed as a youth.

    But it was in this neighborhood he learned karate. He loved it so much that he rose to tenth-degree black belt and became an international karate champion.

    ''I used to come home with these huge trophies, and then I'd hear Johnny got shot,'' Whitehead said. ``All these years later, I come back, and Johnny's still getting shot.''

    This time it's not a little boy named Johnny, but a 9-year-old girl named Sherdavia.

    Last summer, Sherdavia Jenkins was shot by a stray bullet while she was playing outside her Liberty Square home, blocks away from his old residence.

    Outraged, residents called for stricter policing and more activities to keep children away -- and out of -- trouble.

    In January, the police department transferred Whitehead to help clean up the projects. He had been presiding over the station in Coconut Grove, a neighborhood known for its race and class divisions.

    He had a reputation there for working with churches, community groups and promoting unity. He'd always tell residents: ``There is no Black Grove. There is no White Grove. There is one Grove.''

    His message for Liberty Square is the same: ``We're all one family.''

    He freely gives out his cellphone number. And vows to teach the young ones the skill that he said saved him: karate.

    Whitehead said he still sees drugs, gambling, gangs -- like in the ol' days -- in Liberty City. Now, though, he said some residents have lost their will to dream. They've accepted their conditions -- and sometimes just don't know to do better.


    ''Some people think that it's right to shoot a gun when they want and no one ever told them it was wrong,'' Whitehead said. ``We have to show them that Liberty Square is just as valuable as other areas.''

    In karate class, Whitehead tries to restore those dreams.

    ''In Coconut Grove, we had horses,'' he told his pupils one day as they gathered around in a circle. ``I'm going to get some horses . . . Coral Gables has horses, other places have horses.. . . These kids should be able to see horses walking around their neighborhood, too.''

    The parents raised their eyebrows.

    ''Yes, horses, here in Liberty Square,'' Whitehead said.

    Some of his students pumped their fists, and whispered ``Yes.''

    They had to do it quietly. One of hanshi's rules is they don't speak when others are talking.

    There are other rules. To stay in the class, the children have to maintain good conduct in school. They have to do four hours of chores a week at home. Parents, too, are required to show up to class with their kids.

    If they fill those requirements, they get the privilege of donning the academy's black uniform.

    They will work with Whitehead and their sensei, Wayne Times. Whitehead has been Times' mentor for more than three decades. Together, they will teach the children swift combinations of self-defense.

    ''High block, low block, first punch, front kick!'' Whitehead commanded during one lesson as his troop followed him.

    When they stopped, they were supposed to stand still. Their feet were supposed to be planted a shoulder length apart. Their left arm was supposed to be held high, clenching their hand in a fist. Some of the students couldn't maintain the pose.

    Whitehead walked up to a 5-year-old girl.

    ''This one has got it,'' he said.

    As they went through the combinations, 46-year-old Roslyn Nelson made eye contact with her 5-year-old grandson, Keith Afkew. From her chair, Nelson mimicked the moves to reinforce hanshi's teachings.

    Nelson, Afkew's guardian, said she knows the benefits of karate. Her own son started when he was 5 and grew up to be a ''perfect gentleman,'' she said.

    Her daughter turned custody of little Keith over to Nelson to raise.

    ''I think it's so important in a place like [Liberty Square] to teach them discipline,'' Nelson said. ``And to show them that they can do it.''

    Artie Spears, a chatty 8-year-old, agreed.

    ''I like learning the roundhouse kicks,'' he said. ``And we're going to get to do all these things.''


    After one lesson, Whitehead sat the children in a circle again.

    He told them they had to pay attention to their techniques. Natural ability isn't good enough, you have to practice, he said.

    Then he talked about his plans. In June, they'll go to Disney World -- because every child should get to go to Disney World.

    They'll take a trip to a tournament in Ohio. He predicted most will win.

    ''When you wake up in Ohio, everything is white,'' he told them. ``You can't even see your car because it's covered in snow. . . . We're going to go to Detroit and then you can get to Canada.''

    The children's eyes widened.

    ''In Canada, we're going to go see Niagara Falls,'' Whitehead said. ``How many of you have seen Niagara Falls?''

    One girl said she saw it once on television.

    ''We're going to see it,'' he said. ``Nothing should be outside our reach.''

    Then they stood up and repeated their virtues, a quickly worded meditation. Some of the children still aren't sure what they are yet and mutter along parables about practicing courtesy and not using skills for harm.

    But one of them is clear: Nothing is impossible.

    What is my highlighted part supposed to be teaching the kids who see their parents responding in such a manner?
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    I like it! Not the racial slant per se, but the fact that someone is taking resposibilty to get underprivledged kids to believe in themselves. Too often people look to institituions to provide the answers, it's great when individuals see the need and step up. In this case it wouldn't matter if he was teaching them karate or chess, as long as the kids learn that they can be good at something, that they have value and skills. Good on him!


      Other than the highlighted part (we're teaching unity, but put emphasis in our differences kinda thing), I think he's doing something nice for underprivileged (sp?) children and family's (I think is awesome that he gets the family involve one way or another)
      Originally posted by Phrost
      Yeah, you're probably right.

      But still, something about having a black guy or a lesbian jump out from behind a garbage can yelling "SURPRISE GONG SAU" at any of your big-named RBSD kooks makes me giggle like a little girl.
      Originally posted by Phrost
      There are two kinds of members on MAP:

      1. LARPers/Partial Artists
      2. People who haven't heard about Bullshido.
      The Mighty McClaw to Fox when refusing to fight AnnaT.

      Originally posted by TheMightyMcClaw
      Don't fight girls? When are you living, the 1850's? I suppose you think they shouldn't work or vote either.
      Get with the times and punch a chick.
      Wingchundo's response after I called him a "pussy"

      Originally posted by wingchundo
      Hey, I resemble that remark!

      Ok, time for a snappy comeback.... uh...

      OK. Here goes.

      You are what you eat!


        I agree with Neko. I actually live about 10 miles north of that area. It's pretty run-down, caught up in an vicious cycle. However, it has improved somewhat in the last decade.

        Whitehead has a good rep in Dade county, and I hope his program can make a difference in both short and long term.
        Read this for flexibility and injury prevention, this, this and this for supplementation, this on grip conditioning, and this on staph. New: On strenght standards, relationships and structural balance. Shoulder problems? Read this.

        My crapuous vlog and my blog of training, stuff and crap. NEW: Me, Mrs. Macho and our newborn baby.

        New To Weight Training? Get the StrongLifts 5x5 program and Rippetoe's "Starting Strength, 2nd Ed". Wanna build muscle/gain weight? Check this article. My review on Tactical Nutrition here.

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        The street argument is retarded. BJJ is so much overkill for the street that its ridiculous. Unless you're the idiot that picks a fight with the high school wrestling team, barring knife or gun play, the opponent shouldn't make it past double leg + ground and pound - Osiris


          While understanding and being aware of differences in necessary, the article didn't present the instilling of worth ethic in the best manner.

          Since some of y'all got all warm and fuzzy inside, I'll post more of these articles.
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            Rick Ross would kick his fucking ass.


              ''High block, low block, first punch, front kick!''



                I'm torn between saying "Bravo" and "WTF"?

                I guess I just don't understand. Too white probably, so I'll just go back to not working as hard.


                  Nobody works harder than this man:


                    10th degree black belt?
                    Lone Wolf McQuade Final Fight:


                      Originally posted by ICY View Post
                      Rick Ross would kick his fucking ass.
                      He wouldkick you and rick ross ass at the same time!


                        Wow. Old necro.

                        Lil will, this thread was posted over three years ago. Make sure you check the dates under the posts before replying and, unless it's new info or pertinent, avoid raising threads from the dead.
                        Chaos? Panic?... Disorder??.........................​My work here is done.




                            It inspiring to see someone take Martial Arts and use it as a tool to empower the underprivileged. In my opinion the worst part of being in that situation is the feeling that you belong there and the alien feeling of success. How a whole community of people will rise up against anyone trying to rise above.

                            Anyway to address the OP's original (fouryear old) concern. I think it has something to do with this:


                            I will give you an example of how race affects my life. I live in a place called Alpine, New Jersey. Live in Alpine, New Jersey, right? My house costs millions of dollars. In my neighborhood, there are four black people. Hundreds of houses, four black people. Who are these black people? Well, there's me, Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z and Eddie Murphy. Only black people in the whole neighborhood. So let's break it down, let's break it down: me, I'm a decent comedian. I'm a'ight. Mary J. Blige, one of the greatest R&B singers to ever walk the Earth. Jay-Z, one of the greatest rappers to ever live. Eddie Murphy, one of the funniest actors to ever, ever do it. Do you know what the white man who lives next door to me does for a living? He's a fucking dentist! He ain't the best dentist in the world...he ain't going to the dental hall of fame...he don't get plaques for getting rid of plaque. He's just a yank-your-tooth-out dentist. See, the black man gotta fly to get to somethin' the white man can walk to.
                            Last edited by The_Beak; 2/24/2011 9:57pm, . Reason: Added quote


                              Well, since the thread was necro'd. Does anyone know what the status of this program is now?

                              I tried my google-fu at it, but all I found was a bunch of articles with his name on it, which is to be expected since he is one of the top cops down there in Miami!!
                              Combatives training log.

                              Gezere: paraphrase from Bas Rutten, Never escalate the level of violence in fight you are losing. :D

                              Drum thread

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