Gentrification Attack On Kids

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“No” is not an option.
“Can’t”, there’s no such thing.
“I WILL” is our goal.

These are the key elements Dr. Ernest Hyman, Founder of the Harlem Karate Institute has instilled in his students for over 35 years.  The Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, a non-profit 501(c)(3) community-based organization has been serving children and youth in East Harlem and surrounding communities, between the ages of 6 and 21 since 1969.

At the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, children are taught the art of self-defense as a way to succeed in life, by practicing:

•Proper nutrition
•Academic excellence
•Physical fitness on a regular basis
•Self-awareness and discovery
•Conflict de-escalation and resolution through civilized verbal communication
•Techniques to protect oneself against predators
• Avoidance of gang-related activities
• Survival techniques
• Emergency response and preparedness, and more.

The East Harlem community is the most densely populated neighborhood in New York City.  More than 56% of the children in this inner-city neighborhood receive some form of public assistance.  As the youth population continues to grow, statistics show that our youths and young adults continue to face ever increasing obstacles to their quality of life and success.  According to a Census Supplementary Survey conducted by the U.S.  Department of Justice, 41% of families with children are headed by single parents, 86% of which are women, children comprise 26% of the city’s population and 36% of them live in poverty, only 39% of elementary school students are reading at or above grade level and almost half of all juvenile crimes occur between 2:00 and 8:00 pm on weekdays, with the most violent crimes occurring immediately after school.

On a daily basis, Harlem youths are faced with overwhelming social and economic challenges that include homelessness, violence, crime, drug abuse & alcoholism, illiteracy, poor family support and much more.

The Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, a multicultural resource center, has been a safe haven for these youth for more than 35 years.  The Center was developed by and is still run by martial arts world champion and community , Dr. Ernest Hyman. Disadvantaged young people, those currently involved in the judicial system and youths with disciplinary problems are all welcomed and encouraged to attend and participate in the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center’s programs. 

The Harlem Karate Institute’s doors have remained open to all young adults and youths seeking a place where they can interact in a safe and positive environment, and their families.  They provide an alternative lifestyle to joining gangs, participating in drug-related activities and crime, by instilling a sense of accomplishment and hope through challenging and constructive activities.

Many of our children and youth view their experiences with the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center as not only critical to their success, but also essential to their survival.  They help children and youth to develop the following positive behaviors through individual and group processes:

1. Self-esteem building – Our students learn how to turn mistakes into learning opportunities by understanding the significance of personal integrity.

2. Personal Responsibility -- Our students learn to choose behavior that enables them to succeed in their goals by accepting accountability for their mistakes and recognizing how their attitudes and actions impact others.

3. Responsible Choices – Through identification of consequences before acting on negative temptations, our students learn to make rational and responsible choices.

4. Social Integrity – Our students learn how to engage in civilized discussions, rather than loud, hostile arguments and physical violence, resulting in development of healthy and mutually rewarding personal relationships.

5. Tolerance – Learning tolerance starts early.  We teach our students to develop tolerant and inclusive behaviors without compromising the uniqueness of the individual.

6. Goal Setting – By setting achievable short and long-term goals, our students learn to develop a sense of purpose and direction for their lives.

7. Perseverance -- We emphasize the importance of perseverance; “Never give up and you will achieve your goals”.

They have been at the same location for decades, but are now being forced out as a result of gentrification, like so many other Black-owned businesses.  They have found a new location which costs $400,000 and are trying by every means they can to raise more money to secure the spot in order to remain in the community to be accessible to the kids who currently attend the school.  So far, they have raised approximately $70,000.

Please help the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center to continue serving these children. They will be having an open house and fundraiser this coming Friday, August 24th from 3:00 to 7:00 pm at 2235 Third Avenue, between 121st and 122nd Streets.  Political dignitaries and media are expected to be there.  Light refreshments will be served. All are invited.

The Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center is a 501(c)(3) organization.  Donations are tax deductible.  To learn more about the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, please logon to

For more information, please contact Dr. Ernest Hyman at (646) 271-0619 or e-mail me directly at [email protected].
About Dr. Ernest Hyman

Dr. Ernest Hyman holds a 10th Degree Black Belt in Japanese Goju-Ryu -- the only system of martial science where 10th Degree Black Belt is recognized as a Doctorate Degree.  Dr. Hyman has since created his own martial science system and named it Mokoboshi, translated meaning Circular Fist.  The key elements constituting Dr. Hyman’s Mokoboshi system: Determination, Discipline, Patience & more Patience, manifest a blueprint of his life:


Dr. Hyman understands the challenges our youth face every day.  Born in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, he left home at the tender age of 12.

He first became interested in the martial arts because he wanted to be a gang leader like Mugsy from the East Side Comedy, a weekly television show based on a street gang in Brooklyn. But early on during his quest, he learned through martial arts that gangbanging was not the right choice and instead, he joined the New York City Bike Patrol, founded by Mayor John Lindsay.  The Bike Patrol’s headquarters were in the Central Park Precinct and he patrolled Hell’s Kitchen and crime-ridden areas of Midtown with his team, fighting crime. 

Committed to making it on his own and wanting to be self-sufficient, young Ernest began shining shoes in Midtown, Manhattan to eat and to pay for his karate lessons.  There was no obstacle too great to stop him from attending his classes.  With his strong determination and the grace of God, Ernest was able to withstand and resist the vices and temptations impressed upon him by the city streets.  Even at such a young age Ernest knew that his choices would control his destiny and no drugs, thugs, prostitutes or other negative elements were going to stand in the way of his goal to succeed.

By the time Ernest was 18 he had already set his sights on teaching.  He had his first class at JHS 45, Manhattan, teaching martial arts as a green belt.   By the time he was 21, he had saved up enough money to open his own school.  He opened his school even before he received his black belt.  Sensei Hyman (as he was back then)  taught at the school for 3 years before a fire forced him to find a new location.

He came across a run-down, dilapidated building on Third Avenue in East Harlem.  Although the building was practically a shell, young Sensei Hyman believed it would be a perfect place to open his dojo.  He went inside to further inspect the building.  It was practically condemned.  There was no roof, ceilings or bathrooms, the place needed to be virtually, rebuilt.

He knew it would be a lot of hard work but he was determined to do it.

Not a penny to his name, he approached the Landlord’s office and told her he would like to have the entire second floor to open his dojo.  The landlord told him that the building recently had a fire and it would take at least $200,000 to $300,000 to fix up the space and asked how he would be able to do it.  He replied, “I don’t know how, but I know I WILL”.  The phone rang and it was someone inquiring about the same space Sensei Hyman was requesting.  The landlord replied to the telephone inquirer as she smiled at Sensei Hyman, “It’s already been rented”.  Soon after, Sensei Hyman was given the keys to the building at 2234 Third Avenue and with the help of his students and his friends the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center was born.  The year was 1979.

Now, in the year 2004, 25 years later, the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center still stands and Dr. Hyman continues his relentless struggle to keep the doors open at the Institute.  The Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center has survived thus far through small but much appreciated grants from Senator Olga Mendez 28th State Senate District and individual donations through community fundraising activities.

Dr. Hyman, during his 30 years in the martial arts, has competed in over 500 karate tournaments.  A 10th Degree Black Belt in the Japanese Goju Ryu system, he has won over 1,000 1st place trophies and has won in all divisions over a 25-year span.  He is known and respected throughout the martial arts community especially for his expertise in ice breaking (1,200 lbs of ice) and nunchaku.  Dr. Hyman also masters weapons, kata (forms) and kumite competition.  He is a performer in all divisions at martial arts shows and has appeared in Black Belt Magazine, Action Martial Arts Magazine, Official Karate, Karate Illustrator and other major martial arts publications.

Performance credits:

• Madison Square Garden Arena (over 12 years)
• Nassau Coliseum
• Meadowlands Arena
• Studio 54
• The Ritz
• Beacon Theatre
• Hunter College
• Has traveled on tour to Europe, South America and throughout the United States with the world’s number one martial arts show, “Oriental World of Self Defense”

• Dr. Hyman has also performed for the Queen of England.

• PBS Reading Rainbow

• McDonald’s MightyKids Commercials in his famous dojo at the Harlem Karate Institute

Scenes from Berry Gordy's cult classic, The Last Dragon, starring Taimak and Vanity (1985), was filmed in Dr. Hyman's Harlem Karate Institute Fitness Center. 

Patience and More Patience:

Dr. Hyman’s students come to him from the East Harlem and surrounding communities with a wide range of issues such as depression, behavior problems in school, gang violence, obesity, domestic violence, poverty, substance abuse and more.  He takes on each young person’s challenge, individually, and helps him or her overcome and win.  He will not hesitate to meet with teachers and administrators when a child is in need of help or attention.  He quickly intervenes to make sure the youth, children, and even adults are behaving responsibly and in a respectful manner.  Moreover, he is a great listener.

Dr. Hyman has enriched the lives of his students, their families and peers by teaching tolerance, self-confidence, respect for themselves and all people.  He makes every community he works with a better and safer environment to live in.

Dr. Ernest Hyman is revered in the world of martial science, the community and in the hearts of those who know him.  His zeal for martial science and humanity is manifested through his sons, Master Ernest Hyman, III and Sensei Shar-ma Hyman, who continue his legacy.

If you would like to help keep the doors open for the kids of the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, please contact Dr. Ernest Hyman at (646) 271-0619 or e-mail me directly at [email protected].
To learn more about the Harlem Karate Institute Youth Development Center, please logon to

Brenda Jeanne Wyche is Managing Editor for The Black Star News and Harlem Business News.  If you have a solution, contact [email protected] .  Maybe we’ll talk.

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