Chief Grandmaster Willing
As an advisor to the school, Grandmaster Willing brings over four decades of experience as a martial arts instructor. He volunteers his expertise to guide the school’s programming and instruction.
My name is Chief Grand Master Matt Willing. When I started the martial arts as a young man, I found it fascinating. After watching TV shows like Kung Fu, I saw that a gentleman could defend himself and his principles while still be a kind, courteous human being. Then I would switch to the next channel, and see John Wayne, and was given a completely different impression of what a man is and how it is supposed to behave and defend himself. This is a very confusing situation for a young man to be in. Which is it? Is it the tough macho guy that is the real man? Is it the man who displays no sensitivity? Or is it the kind gentleman with extraordinary ability.
Society makes it very difficult to tell the difference. It becomes a personal choice made by your environment and your character. Either way, young men need to develop confidence and it matters how much you support the individual and try to raise their self-esteem. Without teaching them an equal amount of compassion, you can have self-esteem without compassion which can lead to other problems. Either way, the only way a young man can truly build his confidence is by earning it.
For myself, the military was my choice. My grandfather had served with the Roughriders under Colonel Roosevelt and later served under General Blackjack Pershing. My father had distinguished himself in World War II and Korea, being awarded the Bronze Star, along with many other medals for bravery. He had reached the rank of Full Colonel when he retired. I myself joined the Army during the Vietnam War, going through Basic Training along with Advanced Individual Training to become a Combat Engineer serving with Charlie Company 15th Engineer Battalion. At the time I was referred to as a 12 Bravo 30, Demolition Specialist. Things have changed much since then. Soldiers were not treated well during the Vietnam era. Fortunately, time has gone on and things have changed. In 1973, we could not wear our uniforms in the airport because of the harassment received by the civilian population. It wasn’t until 2003 when somebody shocked me and thanked me for my service. Today, soldiers are treated with the respect they deserve. Whatever your views may be, the men that put their lives on the line protect our way of life certainly deserve our respect. I learned in the service that I was capable of pushing myself far beyond the limitations I thought I possessed. As a result, I was able to begin to earn the confidence in myself develop self-respect self-esteem as well as compassion.
Before I entered the military, I had begun my studies in martial arts, learning from a black belt that I worked with in Florida. I continued my studies while I was in the military in various martial arts clubs and had also studied off post. Toward end of my service, I was made a prison guard at Fort Dix New Jersey when President Ford started the amnesty program. I was working 24 hours on, 48 hours off. I would drive every time I had 48 hours off back to Long Island to study with my first full-time instructor, named Kasim Dubar. I stayed with him after receiving my Honorable Discharge in 1975. I felt that if I learned from because he was the middleweight champion of the world as a kickboxer, I could be the best martial artist that I was capable of being, since he was the best at what he did. So, I dedicated my studies for when we had moved the Queens boxing gym on Queens Boulevard (that existed until the late 70s) 3 days a week with 7 hour classes. On our days off we would run 5 miles and hit the heavy bag or 15, 3 minute rounds. It was there I learned the art of kickboxing. One of my trainers was a man named Ray Scarica who also trained World Middleweight Champion Vito Antuefermo. I received my 1st black belt from Kasim in 1975. I would train with Boxers learning to use my hands as an American Boxer using boxing gloves, and later in the session worked with my legs as a karateka to train my legs. We were in several magazines together, including the cover of the 1976 Karate Illustrated yearbook.
Just prior to Kasim’s death, I had opened my first karate school is a kickboxer. I started bouncing at that time in some of the toughest bars that Long Island had to offer. It was there I started to realize the shortcomings of kickboxing. It was then I ran into a martial artist named Richie Barathy from American Combat Karate. He had seen me fight and after spending a few days together working out, he invited me to American Combat Karate as a Full 1st Black Belt. American Combat Karate had some of the finest martial artists I had ever seen. They had all come from different systems and wanted more than was offered from the traditional systems of the day. There was something to learn from all of them. While I was a kickboxer, the only person that could actually beat me in the ring was Kasim. Now there was a group of Black Belts that I would have to work very hard to measure up to. We had black belt classes once a week. Richie Barathy would teach every other class while I was introduced to the Chief Instructor of both American Combat Karate and a system called Tai Zen Jiu-Jitsu. As impressed as I was by American Combat Karate, all of our black belts were blown away by Chief Grand Master Howard Tague.
As a result I had been trained by three of the greatest martial artist of their time. When I felt as if I had learned everything I could from Kasim, I had went to American Combat Karate, I spent 10 years as a black belt became Chief Instructor of the American Combat Karate location in Huntington in 1982 after bringing my student to that system. I felt as if I had learned all that American Combat Karate had to offer in 1983, and with the permission from Richie Barathy, started training full-time Chief Grand Master Howard Tague. I would go to his school at 10 AM when he opened and, with the exception of the nights I taught in Huntington, NY in American Combat Karate, would stay from 10 AM to 7 PM with Grand Master Tague, and on the nights I could not teach I would stay from 10 AM to 10 PM to join in on his advanced class in the evening. In 1985, Richie Barathy and I parted ways and I became a full-time student. I received my 5th Black Belt in TaiZen in 1991. I had opened my second TaiZen school in 1994 to 2003 until I felt I needed something that would change with the times.
I had worked as a bouncer and bodyguard 23 years the most violent bars that existed on Long Island I worked as head bouncer from clubs such as Maxis and Renaissance, UFOs, Focus, Jamz, Hammerheads, Spit, Uncle Sam’s, The Shamrock, The Roman Horse After Hours Club, Heart Bounds, Ringside, Bright Fellows, Southbound Line and many other violent clubs until retiring from bouncing at 42 years old. From 1983 to 2005 I had worked with Chief Grandmaster Tague until I felt I had learned everything I could about real life Street Defense that I could. I had bounced as an aggressive technician for seven years, and saw the advantage of Street Defense From Chief Grand Master Tague, and was able to successfully bounce as a defensive technician for the next 16 years.
In 1998 I started to go my own way due to the situations I had been involved in for 23 years as head of security for so many violent places. Times had changed, the laws were different. And things that were legal and effective years before, no longer applied. There were cameras everywhere as well as cell phones videos on them. When I was in junior high school, and you had a problem with someone, the saying we had in Wantagh was “after school at the stream”. And everyone would show up and watch the fight. Nowadays that doesn’t exist anymore. If a fight starts, everyone has that videos out on their iPhone, and it will be on YouTube in the next five minutes, and somebody’s going to jail.
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1155 E. Jericho Turnpike
Huntington, NY 11743