|CHRISTOPHER N. GEARY
||PROFILE OF A MARTIAL ARTS MASTER
On Saturday, June 23, 2007, I was inducted into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame. I was honored as “Grandmaster/Soke of Christopher N. Geary Shaolin Kempo
Karate” for 2006, the year that I received my tenth-degree black belt.
This was my third Hall of Fame award (a “hat trick,” to borrow a hockey term). As mentioned earlier in this autobiography, I had received two previous Hall of Fame awards from other organizations. On August 30, 2003, the World Head of Family Sokeship Council presented me with its International Martial Arts Hall of Fame Master Instructor of the Year award. In July 2005 Hawaii Martial Arts International presented me with its School of the Year award for the year 2004.
Founded in 1995, the World Karate Union celebrated its twelfth anniversary in 2007. The annual banquet and awards ceremony was held at the Chateau at Camelback Resort, located in the Pocono Mountains in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Although I was unable to attend the banquet because it took place when I was preparing for the thirteenth anniversary celebration of the founding of my schools, I was mentioned at the banquet and my award was mailed to me the next day.
After I found out that I had been nominated for induction into the World Karate Union Hall of Fame, I did some research into the organization. The president is Master Frank Tasetano, a fifth-degree black belt who is a former Marine and the father of two Marines, both of whom are black belts in karate The organization’s director is Frank’s wife, Kathi Tasetano, who is not a martial artist but (in her words) has “spent three or four nights a week sitting in a dojo for the past 24 years.” (Their son Trevor is a fourth-degree black belt and their daughter Caitlin is a second-degree black belt.) Frank and Kathi Tasetano founded the World Karate Union in 1995 to honor martial artists for their excellence in the martial arts and contributions to their communities. Past award recipients have been selected from throughout the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, South America, the West Indies, and Australia. The majority of inductees have been recommended through ballots submitted by the organization’s Board Members and past inductees. Ballots are distributed to martial art schools around the world, who nominate candidates for induction.
Induction into the World Karate Union is granted only to martial artists who have attained black belt ranking. “We wanted to make it special,” explained Mrs. Tasetano. “Many organizations will give awards to students, but we wanted to do it exclusively for black belts.”
The World Karate Union has never bestowed rank or given degrees to anyone. They acknowledge a person’s rank, but they do not give promotions, title, or doctorates. The organization will only recognize what has been awarded to an individual by others who are qualified to do so.
The World Karate Union chooses its Board Members carefully and relies on them to verify credentials of nominees. They have a very rigorous screening process. Before receiving this very prestigious award, I was required to provide copies of my most recent certificate of rank, along with two photos and a very detailed résumé.
Unlike some other organizations, the World Karate Union steers clear of politics and game playing. In presenting its Hall of Fame awards, the organization does not require strict and sole membership in its organization. “We don’t believe in that nonsense,” said Mrs. Tasetano. Instead, they encourage new friendships as part of their belief in the “Brotherhood of the Martial Arts.” They do not knock other organizations, although they agree to disagree on certain issues. Board Members belong to many different organizations, they recommend candidates to various organizations, and they have never tried to prevent anyone from joining another martial arts organization.
WORLD KARATE UNION BOARD MEMBERS (As of June 24, 2007)
Master Frank & Kathi Tasetano President & Director – WKUHOF, Master Trevor Tasetano, Grandmaster Gary Alexander, Grandmaster Alan Goldberg, Grandmaster Eugene Floyd, Grandmaster Buddy Amato, Master Tony Abel, Master George Bierman, Grandmaster Leon D. Wright, Kyoshi Gregory O. Fann, Sr., Shihan Larry Issac, Dr. Joe Jones, Master Ramon Lawrence (Australia), Dr. Robert Braff, Grandmaster Robert Nenow, Grandmaster Santiago Sanchis (Spain), Sigung Seng Jeorng Au, Master Nickolai Smirnov (Russia), Master Frank Williams, Grandmaster Dan Horia Chinda (Romania), Master Lisa McManus, Master Bakhtiyor Rozikov, Dr. Kevin Hufford, Master Willie Wilson, Grandmaster John Pellegrini, Master Frank Huff, Grandmaster Frank Kushner, Grandmaster Christopher Francis (Trinidad), Grandmaster Gary Wasniewski (United Kingdom), Master Fabio Perez (Panama), Grandmaster Rick Lenchus, Master Andy Kunz (Switzerland), and Master Bernd Hohle (Germany).
INACTIVE BOARD MEMBERS
Grandmaster Al Smith (Easton, Pa.), Master Alick Smith (Nazareth, Pa.), Master Jim Lapchak (Bethlehem, Pa.), Grandmaster Phil Little (Anderson, NC), Grandmaster Rodney Willis (Guedelph, Canada), Master Robert Dickerson (Camden, NJ.), Shihan Jon Bonner (Tamaqua, Pa.), Master Tom Merritt (Fulton, New York), Master Sam Hyder (Scranton, Pa.), Master Mark Jovich (Harrisburg, Pa.), Grandmaster James Martin (Wilkes Barre, Pa.), Grandmaster Marcel Garcia (Alberquerque, NM), Master Charles Ehrentraut (Connecticut), and Grandmaster Glen Kwann (Ontario, Canada).
Kathi Tasetano told me that she had done some research and found that I was inducted into Frank Sanchez’s organization in 2003. She mentioned that she had met Grandmaster Sanchez at functions in New York and New Jersey. As of June 23, 2007, many of the members of Sanchez’s organization were also members of the World Karate Union Hall of Fame, including Ed Badiang, John Pellegrini, Kim Soo, Gary Wasniewski, Jerry Aiello, Phil Little, Dan McEaddy, Buddy Amato, Gary Alexander, Alan Goldberg, George Nobles, John Denora, Dave Shelton, Mark Shuey, Kalaii Griffin, Isaac Henry, Bart Vale, Tom Hunnicut, Leon Wright, John Kanzler, Vasilios Katsaitis, Phil Little, Glenn Kwan, John Kuhl, Daon Nagle, Harold Long, and Peter Kobasigawa, to name a few. Some of Frank Sanchez’s directors also serve as board members for the World Karate Union.
Mrs. Tasetano told me that she and Jaime Abregama had exchanged a few e-mails, and some of the members of his organization were also in the World Karate Union, including Walter Godin, Lucky Luciano, Bill Rankin, Jeff Delaney, Richard Bustillo, Dave Shelton, Glenn Kwann, Mark Shuey, Tom Merritt, Bernd Hoehle, Jeff Hughes, Dan Jones, Jason Ward, Dan Severn, Alan Wheeler, and Chuck Norris.
She said that she never met Nick Cerio (from whom I received my first-degree black belt), but she had met two of his instructors in Rhode Island. She is not familiar with the IMAMF or Grandmaster Nesbitt but has many friends in Karate for Christ network, including Christopher Francis in Trinidad.
Mrs. Tasetano also told me that the organization wanted to recognize and acknowledge me as a founder of my system because it seemed that is what Hanshi Lou Angel and Grandmaster Nesbitt had done. They made this decision after reading though my qualifications and documents. She said, “These are ‘Founder Awards,’ which technically (as you know) represent a 10th degree in your style of karate. This seems to be what Grandmaster Nesbitt recognized you for.”