2013-08-30 / Business Review

Young and Old Come To Master Their Skills at Villari's

For the last 40 years, Villaris Self Defense Centers have taught children and adults the art of self defense.

Troy Gervais, who owns and operates the Villaris location at 25 Plaza Drive in Scarborough, is hoping to once again attract adults to martial arts.

In the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, karate was primarily taught only to adults. It was not something taught to children because it was thought that it was inappropriate to do so. That changed, Gervais said, in 1984 when The Karate Kid came out and children started to become interested in karate.

This changed the culture of karate.

Over the years the adults started to dwindle off because the programs were being designed for kids and (the adults) were not seeing the benefit, Gervais said.

At Villaris, the programs for adults and children are designed the same.

The requirements are the same, the time period to test from rank to rank is the same, he said.

Great Grandmaster Fredrick J. Villari Great Grandmaster Fredrick J. Villari The focus of the adult program differs only slightly from the childrens program.

I take it to another level with the adults. The significance of what they are doing, the techniques they are learning and the strikes they are making are explained more, Gervais said.

Both groups, however, are encouraged to progress at their own pace.

The thing I try to tell all my adults is everything is done at your own pace and your own skill level. I tell them I am here to motivate you. You are here to push yourself, Gervais said.

Gervais said he finds adults are attracted to karate for the same reasons children are.

Quite frankly, adults are doing it for the same reason kids are. They want to learn how to handle themselves in certain situations and become comfortable defending themselves should the need arise, Gervais said.

Gervais said karate offers adults and children a fun way to work out.

Going to the gym and doing reps 100 times, while it can be good physically, it can be boring, he said. Karate is a totally different way to exercise. By practicing the katas (the choreographed motions), you can get a good cardio workout.

Classes for adults are offered at a variety of times throughout the week, including Mondays and Wednesdays at noon, Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. All of the classes, except the Monday evening class, are open classes, meaning students of any level can attend those classes. While that can be intimidating at first, beginner students learn to appreciate that approach.

I’ve found over the years, people have appreciated that because, especially when the classes get big and I am helping someone else, they can step aside and ask one of the black belts in the class, Gervais said.

Villaris Scarborough location is one of four in Maine. The other Villaris locations are at 140 Main St. in Biddeford, 15 Pequawket Trail in Standish and 899 Brighton Ave. in Portland.

All four locations focus on Grandmaster Frederick Villaris Shaolin Kempo Karate, a style he invented in 1968 that focuses on all four traditional ways of fighting: striking, felling, kicking and grappling.

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