Hanshi Gregory T. Johnson began his martial arts journey in Chicago, IL in August 1963 with Senpai Steve Hayward, Goju-Ryu Karatedo. Later that year he began Kyokushin Karatedo with the late Sensei Charles V. Gruzanski, 5th degree black belt, and one of Kancho Mas Oyama’s first Caucasian students.
Hanshi Johnson was awarded 1st degree black belt in Kyokushin Karatedo in November 1966 and he has continued in this karate style to this day.
Throughout his martial arts career, Hanshi Johnson has been a steadfast Kyokushin Karatedo practitioner. He has attended nearly every one of Richard P. Baillargeon’s NKJU summer camps since 1982 in order to increase his knowledge and expertise in karatedo. Among those with whom he has trained are: Richard P. Baillargeon, William K. Knoblock, Tola Lewis and Bill Wallace.
Hanshi Johnson is extremely proud of his students and the Southwest Academy of Kyokushin Karate celebrated its 52nd Birthday on March 1, 2019 making his dojo the oldest in the Chicagoland area.
Among Hanshi’s Notable Achievements Are:
March, 1967: Opened the Southwest Academy of Kyokushinkai Karatedo
April, 1971: Ranked 2nd degree black belt by Kyokushinkai IKO
April, 1972: Branch Chief/Certified Instructor Kyokushinkai IKO
October, 1972: Training seminar with Kancho Mas Oyama, Shihan T. Nakamura & Shihan Y. Oyama New York, NY
November, 1973: 3rd degree blackbelt Kyokushin Karatedo, U.S. Kyokushin Association
1974-1977: Police officer & Chief Instructor for the Chicago Police Academy, taught defensive tactics & martial arts to 3,000 police recruits
November, 1978: Visited the Kyokushinkai Honbu, met Kancho Mas Oyama & Hombu instructors
March, 1981: Joined the National Karate JiuJitsu Union & began training with Soke Richard P. Baillargeon
July, 1982: Promoted to 4th degree black belt by Soke Baillargeon
November, 1994: Promoted to 5th degree black belt by NKJU-I
July, 1995: Promoted to 6th degree black belt by NKJU-I
October, 1997: Formed the National Martial Arts Association with Shihans Sergio DeCasien, Lemuel “Doc” Stroud, Alan S. Gardner & Clayton Tucker. Promoted to 7th degree black belt & designated as NMAA Chairman
July 1999: Promoted to 8th degree black belt by NMAA & titled as Hanshi
May 2017: Inducted into the Illinois Martial Arts Hall of Fame
February 27th, 2020: Hanshi Greg T. Johnson passed away