Gary Caldwell grew up loving all sports but a stint in the Army in the late 60s introduced him to military fighting techniques. “I found I missed the excitement of training, so I took up martial arts as a sport and a way to keep fit.”
He trained with a master in San Francisco and competed in tournaments at least twice a year, while working in construction. His favorite event was sparring and he usually made it into the final rounds, until retiring from competition when he turned 50.
In the early 90s, he learned that the United Studios of Self-Defense was looking to expand. He opened their new school in Menlo Park in1994, and two years later became the owner.
“I love training in the martial arts,” he said. “I’m happiest when working out. I also really enjoy kids. When the opportunity came up to open a school, it was perfect for me.”
Gary’s school offers classes in Shaolin Kemp karate for both kids and adults. “People think that martial arts is about fighting, but it’s more about developing your character, confidence and self-esteem as well as teaching self-defense. Karate is taught so you don’t have to fight.”
While his focus is on teaching martial arts, Gary’s passion for other sports remains, especially the San Francisco Giants. “As a birthday present, my wife gave me a trip to a Giants fantasy camp,” he said. “And I managed to knock one off the fence! If was great.”
Photo by Scott R. Kline