Spiritual teachings: Northern Wind Martial Arts continues to blow across Cleveland

A product of the Glenville neighborhood, Grand Master Greg Mayo has been teaching martial arts for more than 50 years, and he says he is still learning at 71 years old. Mayo has a faith-based outlook of what life is about, and he incorporates his spiritual understanding into martial science.

 Mayo’s instructions at Northern Wind Martial Arts at 8311 Superior Ave. are based on the Tai Chi, Baguazhang and Kung Fu disciplines of martial arts. In recent years he has taught youth, seniors, and women how to exercise and strengthen the body along with learning self-defense.

Grand Master’s History
Mayo became interested in martial arts during a school canteen while attending the former Harry E. Davis Elementary School in Glenville. This was during a time when recreation and entertainment was provided to students.

Judo instructors were at the school to demonstrate martial arts and to offer the opportunity to learn. Mayo’s father offered to teach boxing to his eight-year-old son. While training and eventually sparring with other boxers, Mayo had an epiphany.

“Every time I would put a right out there, a left would catch me,” he recalls with a burst of laughter, “so I had to change up my plan.” Instead, Mayo began to study karate. “I would go to the library and read everything they had, plus work out after school,” he says.

Ron Shaw, a former police officer for Kent State University, and Reginald McKisick, Mayo’s cousin and now also a Grand Master, says, “We would beat up on each other, and work out together to fine tune the craft.”

At around the age of 17, Mayo met his mentor, Grand Master Sikes, who became his martial arts father. Their relationship grew, and when Sikes decided to move to Las Vegas. he turned the martial arts school over to Mayo.

Before Sikes’ departure, the two moved the school from East Cleveland to East 55th Street off St. Clair Avenue (currently occupied by the Landmark Restaurant). Back in the late 1960s the area was predominately white. During that time Mayo’s car windows were often broken out, and there were threats on his and his students’ lives.

In 1973, the National Basketball Association (NBA) reached out to Northern Wind to ask if the school would perform a demonstration for the half-time show at a game in Richmond, Virginia.

 Since then, the school has also performed at the Front Row Theater, and at Playhouse Square during the Square to Square festivals.

Mayo has been contracted for security for a variety of famous people, including local and national celebrities. Most noted are Carl Stokes, Halle Berry, and he still works for Sinbad whenever he performs in Cleveland.

The school has received many proclamations and accolades for their success over the years, from Cleveland City Council, mayors, and various law firms including Squire, Sanders and Dempsey.

Northern Wind Science Martial Arts School is located at:  8311 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44103. To learn more, email Grand Master Mayo.

This story was originally published on Nov. 29 in The Cleveland Observer. Published with permission.