Alkebu-lan Village celebrates 35 years with martial arts championship
DETROIT — For 35 years, Alkebu-lan Village has been using martial arts to change people’s lives.
Over that period of time, some 250,000 families have been touched and influenced by the east side community service program begun by Marvis Cofield in 1978.
On April 13, Alkebu-lan will highlight its 35-year anniversary celebration by hosting the annual Motor City Nationals Open Karate Championship at Cass Tech High School in Detroit. The event will draw over 300 individual competitors from around the nation and feature a city vs. city team competition between Detroit and Chicago. Alkebu-lan hosted the first Motor City Nationals in 1983, taking on Chicago in the team competition.
“We want to reactivate that rivalry,” said Marvis Cofield, CEO and founder of Alkebu-lan. “We’re asking people to come out, cheer us on and give us their support.”
Sponsored by Quicken Loans, the martial arts competition is a fundraiser for Alkebu-lan, a nonprofit organization that operates a wide array of youth recreation and improvement programs from its offices on Harper near Van Dyke.
Alkebu-lan is also a partner organization of ARISE Detroit, a citywide group that promotes volunteerism and community activism.
For Cofield, the tournament and the Alkebu-lan martial arts program is as much about building character as it is about impressive physical techniques.
“Martial arts is about self-respect, self-discipline and self-control,” Cofield said. “A lot of people think it is just about fighting. Our goal is mental and moral. Martial arts taught me I could be good at something.
“I started training in martial arts when I was 12-years-old and have never had a fight outside of a competition.”
Cofield estimates 250,000 families have participated in the Alkebu-lan martial arts program, either directly through instruction programs or in off-site demonstrations, sometimes out of state.
“Martial arts teaches people to stand up, look at themselves and feel good about themselves,” he said.
There is often an academic payoff for young participants as well, Cofield explained.
“The key to all of this is being able to manage oneself, keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself,” he said. “As a former school teacher, I can appreciate that. Looking and learning is a big part of martial arts. If you are a student and not listening to your teacher, you are not going to learn science and math. You’re not going to be able to do your homework.”
The Alkebu-lan program trains 75 to 100 students each week with as many as 10 instructors.
“We are the largest comprehensive youth martial arts program in Michigan,” Cofield said. “Martial arts also promotes fellowship. It’s glue that brings people together.
Funds raised from the Motor City Nationals will be used to help Alkebu-lan reach its goal of raising $600,000. It is still seeking sponsors.
For more information, call 313.921.1616.