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EYO: Fred Villari’s Studio in Plattsburgh prepares for 30th Anniversary

Villari’s instructors at the Plattsburgh studio (Left to right) : Assistant Instructor Casey Belrose, Master Instructor Mike Flanagan, Second Degree Helper Abbie Farley, Certified Cardio Instructor Leisa Boise, Master David Boise, and Assistant Instructor Carter Timon.

Villari’s instructors at the Plattsburgh studio (Left to right) : Assistant Instructor Casey Belrose, Master Instructor Mike Flanagan, Second Degree Helper Abbie Farley, Certified Cardio Instructor Leisa Boise, Master David Boise, and Assistant Instructor Carter Timon. Photo by Katherine Clark.

— When the Villari’s studio opened 30 years ago, karate and the martial arts were such little-known sports that Master David Boise found it difficult to find a landlord who would rent him space for his studio.

Boise, a ninth-degree black belt, founded the Villari’s Self Defense Center of Plattsburgh in 1986. Boise, along with his wife Leisa and their assistant instructors, run a variety of courses for clients age 4 and older.

This September they will celebrate 30 years of education and fitness in Plattsburgh.

“My instructor, Grand Master Fred Villari’s, started opening stores and he asked me if I would open in Barre, Vt,” Boise said. “No one would rent to me because they didn’t know what karate was.”

Boise said the idea of teaching the sport was still relatively uncharted territory at the time.

“It is a sport of tradition, generally taught from one generation to the next and certainly not main stream,” Boise said. “We didn’t teach anyone under the age of 18 then, it was considered a brutal sport and none of us knew how to train children.”

After having no luck in finding prospective properties in Barre, Boise said he turned to Plattsburgh because his father was serving at the Plattsburgh Air Force Base and his mother was teaching locally. He found the property on 54 Margaret Street and with “a lot of hard work and discipline” he was able to introduce karate to the Plattsburgh area.

“Generally in ‘83 there was no model, you worked outside or at your instructors house,” Boise said. “It was before the Karate Kid, before Ninja’s and MMA fighting made people come into the studio.”

Boise said he learned along with other instructors how to tailor classes for younger children.

“It’s been kind of unique, we teach discipline and self discipline and our number one rule is respect and treating people the way you want to be treated,” Boise said. “Our principles are the same for all age levels and we expand that as the students make it to new levels.”

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