Tag Archives: Best of Madison

Villari’s Martial Arts for Best of Madison!

16 Feb

FINALLY! My martial arts studio, , is on the ballot for and I thought I’d do a little shameless but truly heart-felt promotion here because let’s face it– I think we ARE the best. Here’s why we deserve your :


1) Over 20 years serving the community from the heart of Madison, WI.

We’ve been located at 532 State Street since 1989. Over the past 23 years we have taught countless martial arts, kickboxing and self-defense classes to thousands of people. Our self-defense and empowerment focus has helped our students to build confidence as well as physical fitness and mind-body connection. We have trained all groups of people– children, adults, law enforcement, athletes, folks with developmental disabilities and folks with limited mobility. We have helped people to lose weight, rehab injuries, and feel great about their successes. We have made donations over the years to local organizations including Special Olympics, Dane County Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and more. We have offered free workshops to student organizations and non-profits. We have demonstrated that we care about our community.

2) The largest, most highly-trained group of black belt and master instructors you will find at any martial arts school in Wisconsin.

Most martial arts schools have a handful of black belts if they are lucky, and very few are home to master instructors (5th degree or higher). Check out our black belt instructor list:

7th degree master instructor and studio founder: Mary Murphy Edwards

5th degree master instructors: and

3rd degree senior instructors: (Martial Arts Director- testing for 4th in April), (Outreach Director) and

2nd degree instructors: (Office Director- testing for 3rd in April), (Kickboxing Director), and Trisha Vanatta (temporarily inactive)

1st degree instructors (testing for 2nd in April): , Curtis Rueden (kickboxing)

That’s 3 master instructors plus 9 black belt instructors. Most of our 2nd degrees and above have over 8 years of experience. Our 3rd degrees and above have over 12 years of experience. Master Murphy has over 30 years of experience. You can see, as a group, we have a lot of experience!

3) Shaolin Kempo Karate and SAFE offer the best of self-defense.

, our main style of martial arts, is a mixed style founded by that was designed with self-defense in mind. When Grandmaster Villari founded his system in the 60′s, it was considered extremely taboo both to mix styles and to declare yourself a martial arts grandmaster. Villari legitimized his style through inspiring self-defense success stories over the decades, including training law enforcement and military who reported using what they learned to save their lives in many instances.

SAFE combines the best of martial arts principles with an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of violence against women in our society.

4) Our kickboxing program was the first of its kind in Madison, and yes– it’s the best!

We founded our kickboxing program in 1999 during the national cardio kickboxing frenzy. Unlike cardio kickboxing taught at gyms, where instructors can become certified in an afternoon, our classes are taught only by martial artists (including 3 black belts right now). We teach proper technique for striking with power to vulnerable targets– essential skills for self-defense. We also hit heavy bags for resistance training. Our kickboxers don’t just build muscle– they build skill!

5) The warmest, fuzziest place to hit people!

Our community is friendly, welcoming and supportive. Anyone who joins us is treated as part of the group. We genuinely care for one another, and treat one another well. Why else would people stick around for decades? This year, we are transitioning into becoming a worker-owned cooperative. Although martial arts involves a hierarchy of belts, our instructors are not about ego. We work as a team and we treat our students with respect.


Thank you for your !


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