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Ormond Beach Observer Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014 5 years ago

Karate more than kicks for kids

by: Wayne Grant Real Estate Editor

Area children learning good character traits.

Cameron Fulling got his black belt in karate at the age of 7. But that’s not all. He got his black belt before he ever took a class.

“He has the heart of a tiger,” said Dave Grabner, owner of Villari’s Martial Arts, 1930 W. Granada Blvd, Suite 2.

Grabner met Fulling when the boy accompanied his cousin to a party a couple of years ago at the martial arts studio. Cameron said he wanted to be a “karate kid,” but he was battling brain cancer.

Grabner kept in touch with Cameron and his family, and was impressed as he saw him deal with the treatments and the surgeries. He watched him persevere and keep fighting.

“He’s an amazing boy,” Grabner said. “He’s a beam of light for all around him.”

Grabner got permission from the grand master, Fred Villari, founder of Shaolin Kempo Karate, the style taught at the school, and presented a black belt and karate suit to the young man.

“I told him about Cameron,” Grabner said. “Imagine two tough guys with tears running down their faces.”

Cameron’s mother, Melisa, of Palm Coast, now brings Cameron, who is still undergoing treatments, to class to learn karate.

“We hope it will help build his strength,” she said.

Grabner said Cameron has the character traits needed for black belt, and now they are teaching him the physical skills.

Grabner has also battled cancer. As he followed Cameron in his battle, he developed cancer of the throat and finished treatments earlier this year with a good prognosis. He said as he went through the treatments, he was inspired by Cameron.

“I learned you don’t give up,” he said. “You have to have the tenacity of a warrior.”

Learning the code that goes along with the practice of martial arts, is important, Grabner said.

“Character traits are inherent in martial arts,” Grabner said. “It leads toward a successful future.”

Villari’s Martial Arts uses a Color of Character theme, where the students must progress in character development to advance to higher belts. They also use an Internet-based program called Creative Connections. Parents and teachers must sign forms, proving that the students are building good character traits.

Grabner said children were first attracted to martial arts when the “Karate Kid” movie came out in 1984 and it has been popular ever since.

Stan Lee, of Stan Lee’s United Martial Arts, 11 S. Washington St., said the benefits of martial arts are real, so there is always a demand.

“The only thing that affects it is the economy,” he said.

Lee agreed that character development is an important part.

“We have a character education system,” he said. “If you’re teaching martial arts you must teach the philosophy, so they know when it’s OK to use it. If you teach it, you must also teach them how to live.”

Jamie Jarrard, of Ormond Beach, has three children enrolled at Villari’s Martial Arts, and she said they all have benefited.

Haley, 10, is shy but has begun to be confident and raises her hand to speak in class. Her middle child, Jesse, 8, has started to be more outgoing, and Tucker, 6, is showing more self-control and respect.

Grabner said all schools have a certain amount of character training, but all are different, and parents should investigate them and talk to other parents before enrolling their child.

Visit for Villari's Martial Arts. Visit for Stan Lee's United Martial Arts.

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