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On 7th St., A Martial Art And More

DSC_1070Meredith Hoffman Students at the Nisei Goju International Headquarters prepare to spar. Below: Students practicing Nisei Goju, a combination of hard and soft fighting styles.
DSC_1077Meredith Hoffman

Black hair cascading down the back of his karate robe, Master Wilfredo Roldan exhaled an impassioned hiss in the Nisei Goju International Headquarters on Seventh Street and Avenue A.

For 41 years, Mr. Roldan has taught Nisei Goju – a martial art that borrows from karate and jiujitsu and emphasizes the importance of discipline, a lesson that his students already seem to have taken on board: at Mr. Roldan’s gesture, the entire class bows, kicks and springs into action.

There are just seven students in the class – and Mr. Roldan said that the small setting is by design.

“I say, ‘Joseph only had 12 brothers, Jesus had 12 disciples’ — there are very few people you can touch,” said Mr. Roldan, who is 59 and who does not use the religious analogy by accident – he says his work is a service, and compares Nisei Goju to a spiritual calling.
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