Our Founder - Jim Chillemi

Shihan Jim Chillemi is a 6th degree black belt in the goju-ryu style of karate. He has had the privilege to teach martial arts to men, women and children for over forty years. The philosophy of "honoring the past, embracing the future" has led to the creation of the New York Goju Karate Association and a curriculum that puts the betterment of his students first and foremost in everything he does.

Shihan Chillemi trained with several of the greatest martial artists of our time, including Master Peter Urban, from whom he received his first through sixth degree black belt. His karate training has also included studies under Shigero Oyama, Fumio Demura, and Joe Lewis. He has also trained in Ju-Jitsu and submission fighting with Little John Davis and Frank Shamrock, and in the Filipino art of Kali under Apolo Ladra. This diverse and esteemed group of teachers have instilled in Shihan the value of a comprehensive, well-rounded martial arts education, which he passes on directly to his students. 

Shihan Chillemi had the opportunity to compete nationally and internationally representing America under Master Ric Pascetta and Master Chuck Merriman and was captain of the U.S. team and won a silver medal at the European World Championships in Birmingham, England in 1988 and was captain of the US Team in Milan, Italy, where he won a silver medal in the light-heavyweight division. In 2001, he was inducted into the Eastern U.S.A. International Martial Association Tactical Hall of Fame.

In 1991, he founded the New York Goju Karate Association in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY where he has been providing a world-class martial arts education to children, teens, and adults in Westchester County. NYGKA is proud to have led by example in the creation of programs for preschoolers, for children and teens with special needs, and for a curriculum that specifically addresses bullying in schools at all ages.

Shihan Jim believes that the martial arts should be a part of every child’s general education, and that martial arts training is training for everyday life. The benefits of karate training far exceed learning how to punch and kick, as the thousands of students Shihan has taught over the past 25 years know. Shihan has also developed a world class Tiny Tigers preschool martial arts program and has been recognized by the New York State Senate for his outstanding work with children.

Shihan Jim is also a certified life coach and motivational speaker under the John Maxwell Group. He believes strongly in the power of human potential, and that every individual has a choice to live their life intentionally — empowering them to write their own life's story.