Back in 1974 when he was 16 years old, both Master David Garrison’s father and his tennis coach were in agreement that Master Garrison needed to work on his focus.
They had heard about Grand Master Ken Ok Hyung Kim, and Master Garrison became part of the first generation that studied Kimudo – 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,” Master Garrison said. “Our tenets we promoted were courtesy, humility, integrity, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit.”
Following college, Master 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, Master 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.
Barrington Tiger Academy celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2013. It offers training in Kimudo, Jujitsu, Hapkido, MMA training, Traditional Weapons training, Kickboxing, TNT private lessons and nutrition programs. Barrington Tiger Academy has been at its current location for about seven years.
Grand Master Ken Ok Hyung Kim also is responsible for Master Garrison becoming a martial arts teacher. He asked Master 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,’ ” Master 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.”
Master Garrison teaches people from the ages of 3 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. Master 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.”