Shihan Harry Wheeler
Instructor Emeritus Shihan Harry Wheeler has been involved in the martial arts since 1964, when he started wrestling and then boxing a year later. He started in the eastern martial arts in 1967 when, at the age of 12, he started taking Kyokushinkai Karate from Shihan John Shaw. Coming from a rough childhood, Shihan Harry found a friend and mentor in Shihan Shaw who traded lessons in exchange for young Harry cleaning the dojo. Over the next 10 years he was involved with Danzan Ryu Jiu-Jitsu, Shotokan Karate, and Shorei Goju Karate. He achieved Dan ranking in Shorei Goju Karate from Shihan John Shaw in 1975. He, also, began to develop a system of “Combat Wrestling” during this same time. Using his wrestling and jiu jitsu skills, he was able to develop a system that was very similar to the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu so popular today.
At the age of 22, in 1977, he became involved in American Kenpo Karate. He started in the Tracy system of American Kenpo Karate under Sensei Bob Wainwright. Over the years he studied in various other systems of Kenpo including the Parker system, LaTourette, and some others under various instructors. He competed in Boxing, Kick Boxing, and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) over the years also, achieving a record of 25 wins and 1 loss. He also competed in well over 150 wrestling matches during his early years. In September of 2007, Shihan Harry received his 8th Dan. Shihan now has 51 years in the martial arts, 38 of them in American Kenpo Karate.
In the past decade, Shihan Harry has been extremely busy bringing together all the systems of American Kenpo Karate that he has been involved in and developing a version derived from those various branches. This system is the one now taught at Warrior Way of Kenpo/Downers Grove Boxing & Martial Arts.
While bringing together this new version of Kenpo Karate, Shihan Harry had also been, until 2011, the lead instructor in Defensive Tactics Training for the Cook County Sheriff’s Training Academy in Chicago. He fine-tuned many of the techniques previously used by the Sheriff’s Department. In addition to this, he also developed, instituted and began training officers in the first Tactical Ground Fighting that the Sheriff’s Dept. had ever had. There was no ground fighting taught and Shihan Harry recognized that, in today’s world, this was a necessity for officer safety. You can see Shihan Harry featured in the Discovery Channel episode “Cook County Jail: Boiling Point” as the lead D.T. instructor.
Shihan Harry has received recognition four times from the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. In 2010, he received the award for “Law Enforcement Instructor of the Year”. In July of 2012, he was acknowledged as a “Grandmaster” by the Grandmaster’s council in the USMAHOF! Then, in 2013, he was given the “Golden Life” award. That means that he has managed to keep working out at his advanced age!!! Lol In 2014, GM Harry was awarded recognition as a “Pioneer” of the martial arts in the Platinum(Over 50 years) Level.
Shihan Harry now sits on the board of the Grandmaster’s Council for the International Martial Arts Council(I.M.A.C.).
In addition to his martial skills, Master Harry is also a physical/personal trainer certified by the Cooper Institute. He has trained many athletes over the years and competed successfully in bodybuilding for many years