a name synonymous with the growth of martial arts in America, was inducted into the World Masters Hall of Fame in a recent ceremony held on April 21st at the new Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut and attended by more than 500 students, friends and colleagues who traveled from across the U.S. to honor him.
Founded in 2000, the World Masters Hall of Fame also includes such notables as Bruce Lee, Jet Li and Jackie Chan.
Starting back in 1968,
Grandmaster Villari accomplished much with a minimum of fanfare. 10,000 Black Belts and 15 million students after its conception, Villari's Martial Arts Centers are now a far cry from the days when Fred
Villari taught two students at seven in the morning in a walk-up studio in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Grandmaster Fredrick J. Villari is a
12th degree black belt, the highest rank one can attain in a martial art, and is the founder of the Shaolin Kempo Karate system – an innovative approach that combined Japanese martial arts with Chinese martial arts and Western boxing. His organization is the world's largest chain of professional martial arts studios, and has been so since its inception more than
four decades ago.
This method has spread throughout the world as more than 500 schools have been opened that teach his method. The backbone of Villari's style is the Shaolin system since he felt it was the best for promoting overall good health, wisdom and longevity. This system is well balanced, incorporating mind, body and spirit into one.
“Martial arts has become accepted as part of the mainstream of America,” noted Villari who was one of the leading pioneers of the industry. “I see a very bright future for the sport and innovative ways that is evolving with challenging times. With the threat of terrorism and street crime, there is an even greater need to be prepared to defend yourself.”
Villari continued, “From the oil crisis to the high cost of living, there is a lot of stress today. Stress leads to bad things. Working out via martial arts helps relax the student and, at the same time, develops a calm, confidence that they can manage any situation that may come along.”
Early on in his career Great
Grandmaster Villari realized that the ultimate in self-defense lay not in one way or style of fighting. By combining the "Four Ways of Fighting." he devised and developed ways to integrate diverse methods of fighting into one, eliminating weaknesses and vulnerabilities. This is the central theory and method behind Villari's
art of Shaolin Kempo Karate.
Practitioners believe that the Shaolin Kempo Karate system, incorporating techniques of four basic fighting styles – boxing (punching and striking with your hands, arms, elbows, or forearm), kicking (with foot, leg, knee, shin), felling (to knock an opponent off his feet by throwing, tripping, pulling, pushing, shoving, or scooping him) and wrestling (by either wrestling, holding, breaking, locking bones or joints against nerve centers) is the ultimate martial art for modern day fighting.
Villari’s many and long term contributions to the martial arts world were recognized by the Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is directed by renown Martial Arts Historian Marvin Katz and Martial Arts Promoter Grandmaster Aaron Banks. They are considered the most knowledgeable and objective authorities in the martial arts community.
Banks was a pioneer in his own right. He was famous for promoting and managing early, rough and tumble full contact martial arts tournaments throughout the East Coast in prestigious arena such as Madison Square Garden. Via these tournaments Fred Villari tested his skills and fighting style and often left opponents on their backs.
Martial arts tournaments slowly evolved to emphasize the use of safety
equipment and technique rather than brute force and survival tactics. Blockbuster movies such as Karate Kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers had an enormous impact on attracting children and families to the sport.
As part of the Hall of Fame induction weekend and as a tribute to Fred Villari, the
Seven Dragons, the foremost authorities of Villari’s creation Shaolin Kempo Karate, performed a clinic for the national assemblage. The Seven Dragons revealed rare techniques and insights from their combined 200 plus years of experience in the Villari art to a crowd of over 300 Shaolin Kempo Karate practitioners.
The Seven Dragons include, Master David Leggeri, 9th Degree Black Belt. (Master of The
Somerville, Ma School)
“I met and began training under
Grandmaster Villari 43 years ago. I am still amazed when the Great
Grandmaster teaches me something new about our style. After all this time I would have thought I had experienced everything about our style at least once but that’s not the case. As I train under the
Grandmaster I set goals and as I reach those goals I find they are only the beginning of the next stage." "I consider being recognized as one of the Seven Dragons such an honor" " It is my pleasure to further the teaching of Shaolin Kempo Karate to other Martial Artists and to the public.”
These Seven Dragons are the highest governing board of the Shaolin Kempo Karate system. They are dedicated to sharing Villari’s vision and techniques.
Villari’s current project is a “
home study” program of martial arts. In recognition that a time-stressed world, one does not always have the same schedule as a martial arts studio, the “home study” video or DVD's comes to them. The programs lead students through specific movements and techniques that allow them to learn and obtain different degrees of belts as would a more traditional student. “Home study” students even mail in tapes of themselves performing movements and techniques to qualify for each stage of learning. These tapes are viewed and critiqued by Villari’s Masters.
Grandmaster Villari is also still actively teaching and demonstrating the martial arts in his schools today.
Villari Martial Arts continues to maintain centers throughout the United States.
United States locations include -
Glendale, Lake Forest, Poway) Connecticut (Enfield, Fairfield, Glastonbury, Newington, North Haven, North Windham, Simsbury, Southington, Torrington, West Hartford, Windsor) Florida (Lake Park, Royal Palm Beach,
Sarasota, Wellington) Illinois (Palatone) Kentucky (Louisville) Maine (
Scarborough, Standish) Massachusetts (Barre, Chicopee, Franklin,
Natick, Palmer, Pittsfield,
Westboro, Williamstown) New Hampshire (Derring,
Hillsborough) New York (Dresher, Eastslip, Levittown, Plattsburgh, Port Jefferson, Smithtown, West Islip) Pennsylvania (Chalfont, Dresher, Elversen, Horsham, Ivyland, Mechanicsville) Rhode Island (Middletown) Texas (Austin) Vermont (Barre, South Burlington) Wisconsin (Madison, Oregon, Reedsburg, Tomah)
Canada locations include -
Otario, Canada (Ajax, Aurora, Downsville, New York) Quebec (Laplaine, Lasalle, St. Jean Chrysostome)