Thursday, February 7, 2008
ANDREW G. PEREZ SENSEI: GUIHULNGAN KARATE PIONEER
Guihulngan karate pioneer Andrew G. Perez Sensei (left) and martial arts researcher/writer James U. Sy Jr. of the Conceptual Martial Arts Society.
Reprinted with permission from Western Visayas Journal. Article written by James U. Sy Jr.
Most younger martial artists of the current generation often do not know the pioneers who established their arts for them in the past. In this issue, we will introduce you to a karate pioneer in Guihulngan.
Andrew G. Perez was born on September 25, 1941 to Jose Vergara Perez and Inocencia G. Gonzales in Guihulngan. He was the eldest of 5 male and 1 female siblings and became the only one to be involved in the martial arts.
In the 1950s, the young Perez began the study of judo under Cacoy Ledrit, Achilles Mirasol, and another instructor when he was still in high school. The lessons also included some escrima (Doce Pares style). He learned for 3 months. Then he traveled to Cebu to pursue a college degree.
In 1963, Andrew G. Perez was married to Trifona L. Legaspi. The following year, Latino Gonzales Sensei of the Philippine Karate Association (the recognized national governing body for karate during that time) sent 2 instructors to Guihulngan to establish karate there. Those instructors were Aguinaldo Lexican Sensei of Dumaguete, who was taking up criminology in Manila during that time, and Johnny Caranza Sensei (real name: Johnny Galanza) of Tanjay. Perez became a scholar under these 2 instructors with the sponsorship of Atty. Jose Estacion.
Later on, Caranza Sensei broke off from Gonzales Sensei, who went on to propagate and become the Father of Shorin-ryu karate in the Philippines. Caranza Sensei founded the Siete Pares Karate Association which at one point had presence in a total of 160 districts all over the Philippines. The Siete Pares Karate Association taught Okinawan style karate. (One of the products of the SPKA in Negros Occidental was Efraim Beatingo Sr. Sensei of the Undo-kan Martial Arts Association who got his 3rd degree from the association).
In 1965, Perez Sensei was appointed as Region 7 director for the Siete Pares Karate Association. In 1971, he was employed as a municipal policeman. In 1974, Perez Sensei was officially awarded his 3rd degree black belt in karate under the sanction of the Siete Pares Karate Association.
By 1975, Perez sensei had developed his group that he had 5 clubs with a membership of 150 under him. That same year, he held a tournament during the annual fiesta of Guihulngan. Karatekas from Bayawan, Bais, Dumaguete, Guihulngan, and San Carlos competed in the tournament.
During the time Perez Sensei was active in karate, no other karateka was successful in starting a group in Guihulngan. He would challenge anyone attempting to teach karate in Guihulngan. During those times, dojo wars/club raiding was the norm.
In 1995, Perez Sensei retired from active duty as a policeman. Today, he has also retired from teaching karate and spends his time enjoying life at his home in Guihulngan.
Perez Sensei told me that karate, for him, was more than just fighting. It was a way of life, a way of seeing things in their positive side, and a way of enjoying life. Experience and karate had made him a fuller, happier and more contented person.
And before I finally left, he asked me, “what is your rank?” I replied, “2nd degree in Kimdo, 1st degree in karate (honorary). How did you know Sir I’m also practicing?” The reply was quick, “you won’t be writing this if you don’t know and understand.” What wisdom in those words.