Martial arts instructor, Gill Gauthier knew what he was doing mattered, but he didn’t know how much until 100 of his students nominated him for a place in the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame. The Orillia blackbelt was touched by the gesture and rendered speechless when he learned his name would be added to the same list as such masters as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. “When you’ve been doing something for this long, you always wonder where its going”, said Gauthier 58.
It’s the ultimate to be inducted into a hall of fame as recognition for your work. Gauthier’s wife Lisa, daughter Tawnya and several other friends and family members will travel to London on August 12th for a banquet and a Lifetime Achievement Award presentation by the World Martial Arts Federation.
Gauthier who grew up in Toronto started practicing karate 40 years ago. He earned his blackbelt in 1972, and moved to Orillia, opened a dojo at the Y.M.C.A. and started teaching. Seven years later, he moved to his current location on Mississauga Street and Gauthier’s Martial Arts and Self Defence was born. “I started doing karate because I was bored in the evenings”, said Gauthier, adding “it quickly became more than just a pastime. I played lacrosse before but I wanted something that would benefit me in the future”.
Since then Gauthier has graded more than 85 black belts and touched the lives of countless karate students. “There is no challenge to great for my father” said Tawnya, a karate student since the age of four. “He’s even taught students with all sorts of disabilities. He just figures out a different way to incorporate moves to their specific need”. In addition to spending 20 hours per week at the dojo, teaching classes and overseeing operations, Gauthier also performs his own katas and weapons training each week.
Although he enjoys honing his own abilities, Gauthier said its the chance to help change the lives of a younger generation that gives him the most joy. “To teach somebody, to watch how they develop, you feel good knowing you had a hand in it”, he said. “I wouldn’t trade my students for anybody”, he said. Lisa agrees, saying that her husband is not only a great teacher, but also a great role model for his students. “They see this fella who walks up these stairs, day in and day out, who believes in what he’s doing with his head and his heart”, she said. “The look on his face when they accomplish something is like he’s won a lottery”.