AN INTERVIEW WITH
MASTER GARY CARD
Hi my name is Eddie Morales and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial arts Magazine. The person im introducing in this interview has been a dedicated pratitioner of the Martial Arts for many years. His knowledge is vast and lineage strong. He is a person that believes in helping other by deed and not talk. He is positive role model for many and leads by example. When we spoke in regards to this interview his demeanor was humble and unasuming. Those that know him can attest that he has very few words as he is a man of action. His words comes from the expression and daily practice of his art. We here at Martialforce.com hope you enjoy this interview as we explore his life and the art he is passionate about.
Interview by Eddie Morales
Martialforce.com: Where are you originally from and in what area did you grow up?
GARY CARD: I was born in Augsburg, West Germany, on an army base in 1963. Moved to Lowell, Massachusetts when I was 6 and went through the Lowell school system.
GARY CARD: I opened a dojo in Lowell in 1989 and continue to instruct classes. I also teach several programs for many subsidized housing facilities for inner city kids as well as Tai Chi for seniors. Besides teaching, I also work in construction.
Martialforce.com: How did you begin Martial Arts and who was your instructor(s)?
GARY CARD: I became interested in the Martial Arts after watching “Kung Fu” starring David Carridine. I started in a dojo in Lowell, MA in 1979 under Sensei Ray Martineau. There I studied Goju Ryu. After he closed his school, I began studying Kung Fu in Boston under Sifu Yao Li. In 1985 I moved to NY to study under Shihan William Louie.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on the practice of Kata; is it useful, yes or no, and why?
GARY CARD: Although kata has limitations, I do find it to be a useful tool. It helps develop balance and coordination. Also, I believe kata helps to develop muscle memory of combinations, which in turns help with one’s fighting skills. Also, understanding the bunkai of kata depends my respect of kata.
GARY CARD: Sure, where I was going with this is, it is crucial for a person to find the martial art that suits them. Some people might like the hands on of Jujitsu and Judo, the contact of fighting and grappling, and others might like the style of karate verses Kung Fu. My point is, once you find your art that you enjoy you learn the techniques of that art. Once you know the technique then you learn its meaning and your respect for the kata grows. Understanding the bunkai of a kata answers the questions of the techniques.
Martialforce.com: What is your favorite kata and why?
GARY CARD: Each kata has its own techniques: it’s like asking which do you prefer: an apple, orange, grape, plum or banana. Well each one has its own unique taste. I would have to say the kata Saipai would have the upper hand. Saipai kata has several different stances and techniques. The kata also allows me to move freely within its moves.
Martialforce.com: In Chinese American Goju you practice two man forms. Can you explain the importance of this?
GARY CARD: Working on two man forms increases your speed and timing. Unlike kata, where there is a certain rhythm to perform at, two man forms fluctuate according to the level of performance. Distance and accuracy are also an important factor.
Martialforce.com: Is Chinese American Goju a combination of systems? Can you tell us what in your opinion makes its practice unique?
GARY CARD: The Chinese American Goju system is not really a combination of systems but more a system with influences. According to Shihan Bill Louie, the system is 80% USA Goju and the other percentage is a combination of kung-fu, jujitsu and judo. Shihan Bill Louie's major influence is his instructor, Maestro Peter Urban. Shihan Louie teaches his classes in basically the same format as Maestro Urban. He has kept his technique and kata basically the same as what Maestro Urban taught him. Shihan Louie is truly the best person to demonstrate the system; his movements and punctuation of technique are phenomenal.
Martialforce.com: Do you feel Martial Arts played an important role with who you are today?
GARY CARD: Definitely, as a career Sensei, it has been a huge part of my life. Through the Martial Arts I have developed physical and mental strength through discipline while training. Also, as a teacher I’ve not only been able to be part of many children and adults’ lives in a positive and productive manner but I have also continued to learn and grow as a person and Martial Artist.
Martialforce.com: What are your thoughts on cross-training in regards to other styles of Martial Arts?
GARY CARD: Although years ago it was somewhat unheard of, nowadays, it seems many are training in many forms of the Martial Arts. I encourage my students, especially my Yudansha, to explore other styles of Martial Arts. I believe there is so much to offer and learn throughout the Martial Arts World. Why would I want to stifle someone’s learning as well as my own?
Martialforce.com: Who was your greatest influence growing up with regards to Martial Arts or life in general?
GARY CARD: In regards to Martial Arts, my greatest influence is my instructor, Shihan Bill Louie. As for my greatest influence in life, I would have to say it was my father, Thurston Card.
Martialforce.com: What would you say is your greatest achievement?
GARY CARD: My greatest achievements would be students who after years of training in the dojo are also my friends and competing on the tournament circuit.
Martialforce.com: Do you have any long or short-term goals in Martial Arts?
GARY CARD: A short term goal would be too able to reach all students on a class by class basis and make sure that I am improving their martial arts ability and character. A long term goal is to keep my short term goal fresh and active also to improve my education by learning new information.
Martialforce.com: Shihan William Louie is a very dedicated Martial Artist. What was training like with him when you began?
I have several stories training with him when I relocated to NY. However to some all things up, he always demanded respect when you’re in his presence and always demanded 100% of effort when you are in class. It was the slackers or students who were lazy that he would make examples of. So I learned quick that to get through class you put forth your all.
One story I remember is, it was my first kata class when I got to NY and during class as we are all performing kata he yells ’ when I am correcting someone else I am correcting you, when I am helping someone else I am helping you,!’ Then WACK he hits the top side of my hand right across all four bones and walks away. I had a habit of my hand in the chamber would not be straight and he just corrected that with someone else 10 minutes ago.
Martialforce.com: Do you practice any form of weaponry and if so, what is the value of its training?
GARY CARD: We practice the Bo, Sai, and Nuncuku in the Chinese American Goju System. Yes, there is a lot to gain by the practice of weapons. A weapon is an extension of your hand and arm. To learn the endless ways of maneuvering a weapon is exciting. However, by training without a weapon allows us to sharpen the blade of our body. It is concealed, trustworthy and always there for you.
I also have a great respect for the kung fu styles. I have always continued my relationship with Sifu Yoa Li of the Boston Kung Fu / Tai Chi Club in Boston. It seem like he has an endless amount of hand and weapon forms to his knowledge. I have recommended to my students to train with him to learn.
Martialforce.com: Have you ever competed in tournaments and if so, what do you think is gained from this experience?
GARY CARD: Yes, I have competed for many years mostly in the KRANE and NASKA circuits. I have found that competing aggressively at tournaments is another way to motivate myself to practice my technique.
I also have met many great martial artists.
It also teaches you humility. There are a lot of unavoidable bad calls and favoritism at the tournaments. You got to take the calls as they come. Several times I hear students talk about the bad calls that happen. I tell them, if your technique is good enough, there should be no dought you scored. For example, just the other day I was having a little elimination tournament at the dojo and I had my last bout for first and second, I change the rules and said that all 5 judges needed to see the same technique in order for them to score a point. I said, ‘now, your technique has to be clean and pronounced. All five judges must agree’. In my head I said this is going to be a long match but to my surprise it took just as long as any other match. I credit this first to the competitors for executing their technique with power, accuracy and occupied with the kiai and secondly to the judges for keeping a keen eye.
Martialforce.com: You have a training video in which you teach the Gojuryu Kata. Do you have any plans to make more video’s?
GARY CARD: No, not really, I might make videos on rank requirements. I was always against this because everyone should learn their material during dojo time. However, there is a balance, if a student has enough class time in, they should be able to view the requirements at home to sharpen their skills.
Martialforce.com: Do you think that Martial Arts training should be adapted to the school system?
GARY CARD: Yes, I think it would beneficial to have the martial arts in the school system. Firstly, its a way of exercise to help with this overweight problem were experiencing with our youth, secondly, there is a vast amount of knowledge to learn. Regardless of the system or systems being taught. And lastly, discipline and respect. In allows the instructor to encourage these values along with others such as honor, ethics and perseverance.
Martialforce.com: Where do you see yourself in 5 years in regards to Martial Arts as well as life in general?
GARY CARD: I see myself in the next 5 years as continuing teaching the Chinese American goju system, learning other techniques from other systems and being family raising children
Martialforce.com: Well sir, thank you for accepting this interview on short notice. We here at Martialforce.com wish you continued success.