AN INTERVIEW WITH
MASTER REGGIE MCGEE
JAN / 2012
My name is Franklin Puello, and welcome to Martialforce.com Online Martial Arts Magazine. In the 37 years I have been associated with the Martial Arts and trained with many Masters who have become well respected and established in the Training Halls to continue the Martial Arts legacy. With this said many of them were already fathers, or became fathers and those children trained at the Dojo and learned the Martial Arts from their fathers, and at times from other Martial Arts Teachers. Searching to explore the Children of Martial Arts Masters’ views and valued opinions of Martial Arts Training, I have embarked in the search of young Martial Arts Teachers who continue their fathers’ Legacy. For this end and because I have had the great fortune to learn from, and share Budo- The Martial Way with Grand Master Sam Mcgee, of the “HARLEM GOJU” and in my quest I continue this series with the man I am about to introduce.
Interview by Franklin Puello
Martialforce.com: What is your Full Name?
REGGIE MCGEE: Reginald Charles Jones (McGee)
Martialforce.com: Where were you Born?
REGGIE MCGEE: Jacksonville, Florida
Martialforce.com: Where did you grow up?
REGGIE MCGEE: New York City, Harlem of course and Jacksonville, Fla.
Martialforce.com: What is your current occupation?
REGGIE MCGEE: I'm a Civil Servant
Martialforce.com: When was your first introduction to the martial arts?
REGGIE MCGEE: My father Samuel M. McGee took me with him to the Dojo, when I was Four years old.
Martialforce.com: What Style of Karate?
REGGIE MCGEE: USA Goju.
Reggie with Great Grandmaster Leon "Major" Wallace
Martialforce.com: Who was/ were your instructor/s?
REGGIE MCGEE: The Late, Great Grandmaster Leon "Major" Wallace and after that, my father.
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers what a typical day of training was like back when you were Training towards your Black Belt?
REGGIE MCGEE: Back then, training was brutal in the sense of strenuous physical activity, lots of exercise...push ups and sit ups in between drills and lots of makiwara training. There wasn’t a category for it, It was called training; there was no "cardio" "strength" etc. It was just training.
Martialforce.com: Did you ever enter Competition?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes, I did.
Martialforce.com: What was the Attraction?
REGGIE MCGEE: There was no attraction, it just what you did at that time... It was a requirement as a testing of technique battleground.
Martialforce.com: Describe your preparation to enter the Martial Arts and/ or competition Arena?
REGGIE MCGEE: Regular training, there was no distinction between dojo training or training for the tournament. You trained to the best so you could be on all stages.
Martialforce.com: Please describe Training, when you were competing in Karate Shiai and or Tournaments?
REGGIE MCGEE: There was no difference in the Shiai, The Dojo or The Tournament; it was training as usual, fitness exercises, basics, kata, and kumite.
Martialforce.com: When and who did you fight?
REGGIE MCGEE: I started Competing when I was 6 years old. I have fought against many of the all time greats. My most memorable opponent came when I was just 6 years old... she and repeat SHE punched me in the nose and it taught me a lesson that I have never forgotten to this day: Never underestimate your opponent’s competitive drive. With that being said, I've had the pleasure to fight against guys like... and maybe you've heard of them. Kevin and Kerry Garris, Reggie Harris from Grandmaster Fredrick J. Hamilton's school, Jerry "Fast Feet" Fontanez, Derrick Williams, Joseph Craig (kata), Grandmaster William Oliver, Gene "Boogie" Fraizer, Tony "top gun" Morrison, Abdul Aziz, Shabazz, Andre Dawson, Master Keith McKinley had an entire team in my division at one tournament in which I had a very tough day, I would just like to say thank you, to the Philadelphia National Karate Team. I've also fought internationally; Germany, Canada and Korea... there were WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS on the tournament circuit. I really appreciate and hold dear to my heart all the opportunities I have had to compete against what I deem the best martial artists in the world. If you are out there and I did not mention you I am truly sorry.
Martialforce.com: What was tournament competition like when you were first introduced?
REGGIE MCGEE: There weren't as many rules as there are today. You fought for real, bare knuckles, bare feet. Kata was classic, traditional... not an acting job, no flips, no dancing to music
Martialforce.com: Can you tell our readers who were some of the Noted Martial Artists you had to Trained with / Compete against?
REGGIE MCGEE: I have trained with my father of course Michael Robinson, Jadi Tention, Abdul Aziz, Jerry Fontanez, Grandmaster Lamar Thornton, Soke Hasan Kaleak, Greg T. Murray, as a kid I used to train with the Garris twins from GM Fred Hamilton's school because we were very good friends outside of the dojo. We had to sneak and do that because of the dojo rivalry back then.
Martialforce.com: Would you describe specifically how you developed your teaching techniques?
REGGIE MCGEE: I've developed my teaching techniques by following my father and exercising what I remember as a kid growing up in the dojo from Grandmaster Leon Wallace
Martialforce.com: Since I love Kata I derive pleasure in this next question prefaced by “Kata is said to be “The Essence of Karate”; “It contains Many Secrets", and since the phrase has become a Cliché. Do you believe the practice of Kata is useful and important?
REGGIE MCGEE: YES!
REGGIE MCGEE: Kata is the essence of karate; it's life force. If you are lucky enough to be able to train in karate as you become older, the high kicks, the blazing speed get lower and slower and if you're doing it right your spirit starts to mature.
Martialforce.com: What is your Most Favorite Kata?
REGGIE MCGEE: I don't really have a favorite I love them all! I try to perform them all when I train.
Martialforce.com: Have you learned Kata from other Systems of Karate?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes, I have
Martialforce.com: What makes it/ them so Special?
REGGIE MCGEE: As you continue to study the art, you find the similarities in all of the Japanese based systems and realize that we are not all that different from each other
Martialforce.com: Can you tell us about your relationship with the Legendary Master of HARLEM GOJU, your father Sam Mcgee?
REGGIE MCGEE: As a father he was a stern, caring, no nonsense man of few words, but I knew he was proud of me and that he loved me and what I was doing because he always told my mother and she would tell me. As a sensei, he was impartial, driving and also a man of few words.
Martialforce.com: How was training with him?
REGGIE MCGEE: I enjoyed every minute of training with my dad. At four years old, it was quality time spent together and when I got older it was our neutral ground. Nothing else in the world mattered, school, work, me missing curfew...none of that mattered while we were training together we were in another world...OUR WORLD
Martialforce.com: How would you describe his Method of Teaching?
REGGIE MCGEE: My father has an uncanny ability to find out what a student does best and put that under a spotlight and then use other things to support that attribute.
Martialforce.com: Do you still learn directly from him?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes
Martialforce.com: Are you presently training others in the Art Karate?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes, just the students we have enrolled
Martialforce.com: When did you start developing a Teaching style?
REGGIE MCGEE: When I became a 4th Dan
Martialforce.com: What is your teaching style or methodology?
REGGIE MCGEE: I try to mirror my father's style but with my own approach
Martialforce.com: Did your father, Grand Master Mcgee, guide you into a teaching style?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes
Martialforce.com: Can you explain your Philosophy of Teaching?
REGGIE MCGEE: Traditional, Philosophical, Reality Based and somewhat progressive.
Martialforce.com: How and how much were you influenced by Grand Master Mcgee, your Father’s teaching?
REGGIE MCGEE: It kept me focused on myself and it allowed me not to be bothered by what else may be happening around me, by that I mean it taught me to take responsibility for my own actions and not blame someone or something else for my shortcomings. I am still influenced by his teaching to this day.
Martialforce.com: Would you explain this influence, guiding force?
REGGIE MCGEE: It taught me to take the philosophy of martial arts training and apply it to my everyday life.
Martialforce.com: What are the Pros and Cons of having the same or similar Philosophies?
REGGIE MCGEE: Sometimes it creates a difference of opinion when exercised.
Martialforce.com: How would you compare your philosophy of teaching to your Father’s?
REGGIE MCGEE: They are pretty much the same... I'm just a little younger and I use that in my approach to teaching
Martialforce.com: How would you instruct Kata Training to a Martial Artist of the present generation, who may not believe in Kata?
REGGIE MCGEE: kata is the essence of traditional martial arts; all of the techniques in the style are in the kata. You must believe this and realize that kata is the battle against the invisible opponent... the battle against self.
Martialforce.com: Do you feel that Martial Arts and teachings learned from your father played an important role with who you are today?
REGGIE MCGEE: Yes, absolutely!
Martialforce.com: Can you identify aspects of your life or accomplishments that you directly attribute your success in, to the Training received in the Martial Arts?
REGGIE MCGEE: My education, occupation, my military career during wartime... I served during Desert Storm.
Martialforce.com: What would you say is your greatest achievement in life and The Martial Arts?
REGGIE MCGEE: My family,... my wife and children I am so fortunate to have them to share my life and accomplishments with me, and the ability to continue to study the martial arts.
Martialforce.com: What have you personally gained from your practice of Martial Arts with Grand Master Mcgee, your father?
REGGIE MCGEE: One word... NIRVANA
Thank you for accepting this interview and I wish you the best!