BARRINGTON – When he was 16 years old, both David Garrison’s father and his tennis coach were in agreement that Garrison needed to work on his focus.
They had heard about Grand Master Ken Ok Hyung Kim, and Garrison became part of the first generation that studied kyuki-do – a mixed martial art that combines elements of many traditional martial arts styles – under the grand master.
“A lot of what we did was based on control, self-control as part of our tenets,” Garrison said. “Our tenets we promoted were courtesy, humility, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.”
Following college, Garrison spent several years as a professional fighter. He was awarded Kyu Ki Do Black Belt man of the year in 1996, Hapki Do instructor of the year in 2007, and in 2008, Garrison was inducted into the U.S. Martial Arts Hall of Fame.
For the past 30 years, he also has trained children and adults from the Barrington area in the martial arts.
Tiger Martial Arts, 28686 W. Northwest Highway (Route 14), is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. It offers training in kyuki-do, jujitsu, hapki do, MMA training, weapons training, kickboxing, TNT private lessons and nutrition programs. Tiger Martial Arts has been at its current location for about seven years.
Kim also is responsible for Garrison becoming a martial arts teacher. He asked Garrison to fill in for him and teach a class in Barrington for one month.
“When the master asks you to do something, the answer is always ‘yes,’ ” Garrison said. “Once I started instructing, it didn’t take but a month for me to realize it was something I liked. We all have our
callings... It just became apparent to me that teaching [martial arts] was going to be my calling.”
Garrison teaches people from the ages of 4 years old and up. He even has a student who is nearly 70. It takes children about seven years to reach black belt level through his training, and adults about five years. Garrison has very high standards when it comes to moving students through the different levels.
“It’s integrity,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been taught since I worked with Grand Master Kim.”
Fox River Grove resident Dean Corbin has been a student of Garrison’s since he was 15 years old. He’s now 23 years old and achieved his black belt about two years ago.
When Corbin first started studying martial arts, he had epilepsy and was on medication to keep it under control. Through his study of martial arts and the exercise, as well as the concentration and healthier eating that came along with it, he was able to get off medication and has been epileptic-free for four years.
Corbin also has been an instructor at Tiger Martial Arts for about three years. He just recently tested for his 2nd-degree black belt.
Holly Zastrow is a senior instructor at Tiger Martial Arts and a 3rd-degree black belt. Zastrow has been studying under Garrison for 15 years. While she studied martial arts in high school, she stopped for about 20 years before finding Tiger Martial Arts.
“I never completed getting my black belt, and that was one of my goals back then,” she said.
She also is a holistic nutritionist and offers nutrition counseling and planning at Tiger Martial Arts.
“It’s all about treating the whole body, the whole self,” she said. “We work from the inside out.”
She focuses on eating more fruits and vegetables and raw foods. She counsels people to stay away from food colorings and preservatives, and to drink plenty of high pH water.
“When you’re working out with martial arts, you want to be able to feel your best,” she said. “It takes a lot of output and energy. ... If you don’t feel good, you’re not going to look good and perform well.”’