Grandmaster Fred Villari

Our Philosophy

Founded by Frederick J. Villari in 1968, Villar's Martial Arts Centers is the recognized leader in Shaolin Kempo Karate with over 75 locations throughout the United States and Canada,

Villari's Martial Arts Centers has been teaching Self Defense to families for over 50 years. We understand that effective Self Defense is as much a matter of confidence as physical technique. That is why we use Positive Reinforcement Techniques and Goal Setting to help our students develop a strong self-image as they realize their physical capabilities.

Our History

"Shaolin Kempo Karate" was founded by Grandmaster Frederick J. Villari. In the last four decades, his fighting system has become widely recognized and respected. His art traces its origin back over a thousand years to the Shaolin Temple of China. Many of the basic methods are still used in his schools today. The present form has become famous because of its very effective "Four Ways of Fighting." Some evolutionary changes were necessary due to modern culture and the technological development of many different types of weapons.

People today are bigger, stronger and more knowledgeable about weapons and methods of combat, therefore, movements had to be changed and updated. Grandmaster Villari developed a fighting system that combines the "Four Ways of Fighting" into one. Today his system has spread nationally and internationally and has a permanent record in the annals of martial arts history.

Grandmaster Villari realized, because of his varied wealth of experience and his dedication in seeking the ultimate fighting system, that each fighting system offered something unique, and each also had its glaring weaknesses that could make a fighter vulnerable. After studying and mastering many different styles and ways of fighting, Grandmaster Villari concluded that there really were only four ways of fighting.

  1. With your hands (punching, striking - open or closed hand) or use of any part of the arms, elbows, forearms, etc.
  2. Kicking (with foot, leg, knee, shin)
  3. Felling - that is to knock an opponent off his feet by throwing, tripping, pulling, pushing, shoving, or scooping him
  4. Grappling - by either wrestling, holding, breaking, locking bones or joints against nerve centers

Grandmaster Villari understood 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. The Shaolin fighting system is the backbone of the Villari system since Grandmaster Villari 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. In the realm of fighting, Shaolin is renowned for its devastating kicking and punching techniques. It incorporates the movements of five animals: Tiger, Crane, Dragon, Snake, and Leopard. The Shaolin theory of fighting is based on circular movements, speed, conditioning, and developing strong internal energy, tendons, and ligaments. These are essential for producing a superior fighter.

Karate is also highly favored by Grandmaster Villari, and he regards it as simple and quick to learn and execute. Known for its linear and angular movements with quick shuffles and in-line fighting movements, karate-type blows are more mechanical in execution than Shaolin blows. They are also more explosive. Karate concentrates more on external power and fewer moves are required to get the job done.

Grandmaster Villari also utilizes the art of Kempo. It is a mixture of hard and soft movements that blend nicely, though it is not sophisticated enough by itself. Kempo lacks the grace of Shaolin with its integrated leg maneuvers, the quick shuffles and footwork of Karate, and the explosion of hard Karate.

Shaolin movements are more fluent than either Kempo or Karate and have more patterns of multiple strikes. The weakness here is many wasted movements which create openings for counter-attack. Karate, on the other hand, has too few movements and is too rigid to stand alone. Shaolin takes longer to learn than Karate, but once mastered, its blows are delivered more effectively because Shaolin is a balance of the body's external strength and internal power. Each martial art offers something to compliment the other. By combining circular and linear movements, the end result is a system greater than the sum of its parts.

Grandmaster Villari is one of the pioneers of martial arts in the Western World. He revolutionized and enhanced the martial arts, directing it more toward practical fighting. His contribution to Asian fighting arts helped open the way of the Asian martial arts, on a massive scale, to the ordinary layman. Before Grandmaster Villari, teaching the martial arts to the masses was taboo. He demystified the prejudice that only a few select people should have the opportunity to learn these skills. He showed Westerners of all ages and cultures "the way of Asian martial arts." No other master or system can lay claim or take credit for the unique fighting system of the Villari Shaolin Kempo Karate System. His input and involvement produced a major turning point in the teaching of martial arts. Grandmaster Villari is still actively teaching and demonstrating the martial arts in his schools today.