Most people may not associate the discipline of the martial arts with the skills of a firefighter. But Paterson’s Ralph Paredes says the two go hand-in-hand.
“Karate is good mentally,” said the 42-year old city firefighter and life-long Patersonian. “It keeps you focused in every aspect of life. It keeps you in shape, training both your mind and body.”
Paredes has kept himself in good enough shape to win a gold medal in karate in the Can-Am Police-Fire Games held last month in York County in Pennsylvania. The Olympics-style competition featured more than 50 sporting events, including swimming, golf, cycling, archery, bowling, power-lifting, and wrestling. Law enforcement related skills were also tested, including SWAT procedures, the ability of police service dogs, and a comprehensive competition called, “toughest firefighter alive.”
Paredes finished first in the men’s open competition, ahead of nine other competitors, according to the games’ website. Each match in the one-day event consisted of one five-minute round, unless the referee declared a winner sooner than that.
“The matches lasted from nine in the morning to one o’clock in the afternoon,” said Paredes. Bouts were full contact and judged by kicks, punches, and accuracy of strikes, according to Paredes.
“I started doing karate when I was seven years old,” Paredes said. “My mother was the one who got me started.” Working out at Shotokan Juan-Kan in Passaic, Parades said he has had two instructors in his life-time. “I trained under the late Adriel Muniz,” Parades said. “Now I am taught by Shihan Juan Perez, who I have had since I began.”