Willie Garfield Wilson
Grandmaster Wilson was born August 17, 1949 in Blount County, TN. He graduated from Blount County’s Everett High School, and then served three years in U.S. Army, attaining the rank of Sergeant and receiving an honorable discharge. He graduated from University of TN-Knoxville with a B.S. in Business Administration and he attended Walter State Business College and received Knoxville Business College Associate Degree. He retired as Postmaster from the U.S. Postal Service in 2004. Mr. Wilson is the first African American to achieve the level of Martial Arts Grandmaster in the Knoxville/East Tennessee area. In 1973, he began his formal Okinawan-style Isshinryu karate training in Knoxville, TN under Grandmaster Harold Long. He is a 2002 Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame Inductee and received 2015 Hall of Fame Honors from Action Martial Arts Magazine. During his long and dedicated martial arts career, Grandmaster Wilson has excelled as a teacher, instructor and coach and has been recognized as recipient of over 41 awards in recognition of his hard work and contributions inside and outside the community, especially working as a youth mentor. Most significant among those awards are the Grandmaster Harold Mitchum Humanitarian Award, Beta Theta Boule’ Theta Foundation's “Fatherhood Excellence Award,” martial arts leadership awards, WKU-HOF Golden Lifetime Achievement Award and Humanitarian of the Year Award, Military Arnis Lifetime Achievement Award totaling over 40 different awards, and inductee HOF and community/leadership awards. Grandmaster Wilson is one of the 1980 original five founders of Karate Five Association and founder of the 1974 Karate Five Dojo and presently serves as President and Chief Sensei, leaving a lineage of trained martial artists’ imprint on the local and national scenes in the martial arts community.