Thursday, February 7, 2008

4TH LEE GRALTO NEGROS REG’L WUSHU SANSHOU:: The Lee Gralto Dream Part 3 of 3 By: James U. Sy, Jr.

Published in, Negros Daily Bulletin.

Madame “Dulay” Lee Gralto, the organizer of the Lee Gralto Negros Regional Wushu Sanshou Championships, is a native of San Carlos City , Negros Occidental. Her dedication to the martial arts and to her community made her the no. 1 patron of Wushu Sanshou in the city.

Lee Gralto left San Carlos for the US in 1968 and started her martial arts training in 1996 in New York . She studied and ultimately earned a brown belt in Tiger Schulmann’s Karate.

Tiger Schulmann’s Karate is a name of both a school and an eclectic style of American martial arts developed by 6 times undefeated North American Knockdown Karate champion (1979-1984) Tiger Schulmann, a student of Oyama, Shigeru of the Kyokushinkai school. The school has more than 50,000 students in 33 schools in the Eastern US .

The US, being the melting pot of Asian martial arts, gave Lee Gralto the opportunity to extend her studies to different disciplines via the seminar circuit.

Going back and forth to the US and the Philippines, she founded the Lee Gralto Defense Club (LGDC) in 2004 in Sipaway Island, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental. Sipaway Island is about a 30-minute pumpboat ride from San Carlos. The island is peaceful, non-polluted, and is an environmentalist’s dream, making it an ideal abode.

The inhabitants of the island are very simple people with little access to the usual pleasures found in highly urbanized areas. Madame Lee Gralto noticed that the children are often lonely. They would usually go swimming in the sea or play among themselves. And many of them have not gone to school because of poverty.

Wushu Federation of the Philippines-Negros Occidental (founded: June 2003) under Provincial Coordinator Joery C. Amante of the Black Falcon Martial Arts Association-Main (BFMAA-Main) was actively propagating Wushu Sanshou in Bacolod City, the center of martial arts activity in Negros Occidental.

One of the members of WFP-Neg. Occ. is Warrior’s Club (now Tribo Hangaway) head by Founder Master Roy R. Flores Sr., 6th degree, who is also the Negros island chief instructor of the Tapondo International Federation Inc. (TIFI). TIFI propagates Tapondo, an eclectic Filipino style of Aikido founded by Master Ambrosio “Monching” J. Gavileño of Guimaras. Flores would travel to San Carlos to supervise training of the federation’s chapter there. Madame Lee Gralto started training in Tapondo in 2003 and is now ranked 2nd degree black belt in the art.

Madame Lee Gralto gathered potential athletes from the island and have them trained in Wushu Sanshou for free. A spacious covered court was constructed last year and completed this 2007. Different training equipments such as punching bags, punch mitts, kicking pads, body armors, etc. were brough tin from the uS to aid the youth in their training.

Inspired by the Manny Pacquiao rugs to riches story, Madame Lee Gralto envisioned the young Sipaway athletes to qualify in provincial, regional, and national level Wushu Sanshou competitions where they can be discovered and invited to join the Philippine National Wushu Sanshou Training Pool. Once an athlete becomes part of the Training Pool, WFP gives him/her allowance, trains him/her as a national players, perhaps negotiate a school scholarship for him/her, and gives him/her the opportunity to compete internationally, which can reap him/her honor, fame, and financial rewards from the Philippine Government.

Also helping the instruction on the teenagers are Instructor Allan Mario Facturan and Ferdinand C. Labay.

The annual Lee Gralto Negros Regional Wushu Sanshou Championships was started by Madame Lee Gralto in 2004 to give the trainees the avenue where they can put their skills to the test with other athletes from different schools and to foster camaraderie among martial artists of different affiliations.

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