“Major” Leon Wallace (in the red hat) holds a special place in Harlem lore as one of its truly unique unsung heroes. He was a visionary pioneer who first brought the martial arts, GOJU Karate, to the African American community, know as Harlem U. S. A., located in New York City. For over forty years he used GOJU as a character building tool to shape young minds and bodies through discipline, hard work, and his own special blend of street smarts and Eastern philosophy. He offered this training, to Harlem youth, without cost.
The results of his self-sacrificing efforts have been extraordinary. Grandmaster Wallace literally touched the souls of hundreds of young people who have built on the foundation he gave them to become fearless men and women of impeccable character and boundless courage. One of his disciples, William “Tony” Rogers, who went on to become one of the co-founders of Harlem Week, Vice President of the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, and Director of the Office of Urban and Government Affairs at City College of New York, says he owes all he has achieved to the guidance of the Grandmaster. “Major Leon Wallace was more than a farther figure. He taught us the values of manhood and most importantly, how to face our fears with courage. If he hadn’t intervened I would have never gone back to school and gotten my degree, which literally changed the arc of my life. He helped me mold mind, body and spirit to become a person who isn’t afraid to try.”
Sam McGee, one of the Grandmaster’s championship level students, remembers the quality that set Major Leon Wallace apart from other men. “He had the ability to develop a special relationship with everyone who dealt with him. It was a rare gift. He connected with every single individual on a very personal level, which made their relationship with him unique. He touched people deeply, profoundly, at the spiritual level.”
McGee was so touched by the influence of Major Leon Wallace that he has dedicated his life to continuing the Grandmaster’s pioneering work by establishing the Harlem GOJU Association. “We’re now training the fourth generation to proudly carry on the legacy of the Grandmaster, and in so doing, “Remembering Major Leon Wallace”.