JOHNSTOWN - The Zen-Do Kai Martial Arts organization in Johnstown recently celebrated 45 years of instructing karate and self-defense in the Fulton-Montgomery area.
The studio currently located at 490 N. Perry St. opened in 1974 and was the first and only studio in Fulton county for over 20 years. Michael Campos, the Chief instructor of the ZDK, began instructing locally in 1969. He organized seminars by world renowned instructors, the first regional tournaments, police defensive tactics classes, and the first open-style martial arts training camp beginning in 1972.
Campos began his training at age 15 in New York City in 1959. He continued his training in the military and through college.
The Zen Do Kai training class group at the Johnstown ZDK club poses for a photo. (Photo submitted)
After graduating from SUNY Albany in 1968, he began teaching school at Fonda-Fultonville Central School where he spent 31 years.
He has trained, competed and instructed all over the United States, as well as in Canada, Peru, Greece and New Zealand and currently travels frequently to oversee ZDK events and present seminars for clubs affiliated with the organization. In 2000, he was the featured instructor at Chuck Norris' UFAF convention in Las Vegas. The ZDK was featured in several national martial arts magazines in the 1970s and 80s. Several early students were nationally rated competitors in Karate Illustrated magazine and the MARS competitor rating system in the early 1980s.
Many black belt members of the Zen-Do Kai were in Johnstown the weekend of June 27 to 29 to participate in the anniversary celebration.
The first event was a reunion and anniversary class attended by a number of first and second generation black belts who began their training in Johnstown including Bob Gifford from Houston, Texas, who started training in 1969 and is the most senior active rank in the ZDK; Craig Corato from Dallas, Texas, who began in 1970 and established the Cobleskill ZDK karate club.
Also attending were a group of Johnstown High School students that started together in 1972, including Steve Holden from Albuquerque, N.M., Vincent Rizzio from Burlington, Vt., Ed Taglialatela from Syracuse, and Richard Bowne from Johnstown.
Several other early ZDK members who began training in the late 1970s and early 80s attended among them, Tom Greco from Fort Plain, and Steve Reid from Lansing, Ill.
Current instructors of the Johnstown ZDK studio, Bob and Bonnie Streeter of Tribes Hill, as well as a number of ZDK black belts and instructors from across New York State came to train in the class.
A celebration for more than 100 family, friends and martial artists was held at the Johnstown Holiday Inn in honor of the 40th wedding anniversary of Michael and Anne Campos and the ZDK milestones June 28.