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Blast From The Past

Shihan Leslie Grady

Shihan Leslie, AKA Mousey, Grady is an Avenger who has vast international martial arts experience. Recognizing his martial arts success is worthy of research. He is a “Blast from the Past Warrior!”

Originally born on Baltimore, Maryland’s, south side, and later, during the fifties, he, along with his parents relocated the Grady family to the Cherry Hill community. Later his parents moved the family to Baltimore’s east side and finally settled on Baltimore’s west side. Unfortunately, during this change of domicile he associated with local street gangs, participated in street fighting, stealing, and other law violating encounters.

During the sixties his sister, the late Sensei Maxine Grady, joined the Avenger Karate Club. While learning karate with the Avengers, she acutely observed Hanshi Hawkins mentoring karate-ka not only martial arts techniques but also how to deal with “life struggling issues.” Having concern for her brother Mousey’s wellbeing, she informed Hanshi Hawkins about his disparaging street life and inquired about the possibility of Mousey joining the Avengers. Her conversation with Hanshi Hawkins inspired him to invite Mousey to come to the Dojo and observe a training session.

Mousey took the bait and was hooked! He was enthralled with what he witnessed. While observing the class training session, Mousey was captivated by the rapid hand and foot combinations of Hanshi Hawkins, the lightning like kicks of Betty, Glen, and Michael Hawkins, the clever fighting skills of Wayne Carlton, “Corkey” Bull, Bernard Banks, and many others. Soon he began to eat, sleep, and live the martial arts: quickly the Dojo became his second home.

During the late sixties and throughout the seventies he diligently trained, attempting to capture the unique and successful fighting skills of Avengers. Also, most notable, he changed his negative street life style to one of a positive way of life. He renounced street fighting, stealing, gang life, and settled for Hanshi Hawkins martial arts tutelage. Many times his mother thanked Hanshi Hawkins for being a powerful and positive influence in his life.

Often Hanshi Hawkins has stated that his formula for dissuading street fighting is “fighting.” In other words, Hanshi Hawkins required all of his karate-ka to fight (spar) very often at every class training session, therefore after vigorous training, because of physical exhaustion, karate-ka didn’t feel like fighting on the street. Hanshi Hawkins training sessions were challenging and brutal. After an Avengers training session, Mousey, along with other karate-ka, would have “cotton mouth” (acute dehydration), physical fatigue, but felt good as a “kid on Christmas day.” He enjoyed the challenge, genuine companionship, and discipline that the Avengers Karate Club offered.

Mousey has stated many times that he strongly feels the turning point of his life was when he joined the Avengers. He felt he was “jail bounded” but by joining the Avengers, diverted his once negative street life style to a positive way of life. No longer was Mousie a menace to society, instead became an admired Baltimore citizen. Mousie, along with many other Avengers, credit Hanshi Hawkins for putting them on the right path and guiding them to become productive citizens. Contrary to many other karate instructors, instead of “closing the door to troubled inner city youth, Hanshi Hawkins assertively invites them to become part of a positive process of personal growth. The Avengers organization offers understanding, compassion, enjoyment, self-actualization, discipline, and a sense of personal responsibility. Riley Hawkins and the Avengers provides troubled inner city youth, while facing life’s challenges, a “new beginning on life” to become upstanding community leaders. Along with the many martial arts victories, members of the Avengers have successfully become doctors, attorneys, military officers & non commissioned officers, organization presidents and vice presidents, to include a Mayor of Baltimore, Maryland.

During the winter of 1973, after several years of training, he requested and was granted permission from Hanshi Hawkins to start his own karate school, located on Baltimore’s east side. The inception of his school consisted of 14 students. Fellow karate-ka’s “Corkey Bull, Albert Hawkins, Michael Stinson, and others assisted Mousie in establishing a superb Dojo, thereby producing strong martial arts competitors such as, but not limited to, at the time pee wee, Jeffrey Gills, and women competitor, Queen Taylor. In the spring of 1976, worthy of mention, Gills and Taylor won in their respective divisions, while Mousie became the victorious Blackbelt division grand champion. These feats of success encouraged Mousie to ground his feet and be guided in the direction of the Avengers mission by introducing martial arts, and mentoring positive character development in young people.

Mousey joined the US Navy in 1977. After departing Portland, Oregon, he received military orders for relocation to Seattle, Washington. There, with 15 students, he started the Seattle Avengers. There he performed admirably adding another grand championship to his trophy collection. Later on a ship in San Diego California, he began the “West Coast Avengers,” which consisted of a student enrollment of 55 students, competing internationally throughout, Japan, Guam, Hong-Kong, and Hawaii. In 1996 while stationed at the Belle Chasse naval Air station, his daughters enrolled into his karate school. They made him very proud by winning at karate tournaments located in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette, Louisiana. The “Grady Girls” performed in splendid fashion thereby upholding the fine reputation of the Avengers.

It is Shihan Grady’s desire that every child, especially Hawkins Avengers youth, hear his martial arts story of how Hanshi Hawkins changed and saved his life, in so doing, provided him a road map to become a productive leader in community life. This Bushi has over 35 years experience as karate-ka, along with over 30 years as an instructor. Shihan Grady gives tribute to the Avengers martial arts experience for his success of his military and civilian life.

Shihan Grady has proudly served his country and retired from the US Navy as a Master Chief Petty Officer, with over 22 years service. He was inducted into the “Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame” in 2006 and 2007. Currently, he is a US Postal worker in Louisiana. During the spring of 2008, he started another successful Avengers karate school at the YMCA. Shihan Grady’s outstanding commitment to the martial arts, youth leadership, and community life are in keeping of the highest standards and cherished traditions of the Avengers Karate Organization and this great nation. May God bless this Bushi with prosperity, good health, and long life.