CAMILLUS, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Greg Tearney wanted to get the bad news out of the way first. His dojo in Camillus has been closed since March and it isn’t reopening.

The coronavirus pandemic and a cancer diagnosis have convinced him and his wife, Judy, that it is time to retire.

Greg was one of Central New York’s first black belts in the early 1960s. He’s also been one of the region’s most respected teachers and mentors for more than 50 years.

“It’s just the way he breaks things down,” said Judy. “He sees things that other people, other instructors, don’t see and just his knowledge… unbelievable the knowledge he has.”

Greg said he was a street fighter when Karate pulled him back from a dark place. He’s used the martial arts to change a lot of lives since Judy convinced him to include young people and self-defense courses for women.

“The fact that we could attract more people also means that we could have a positive impact on more people,” said Greg. “So I kind of relented and that’s when we started to become very successful.”

The good news is that Greg and Judy’s daughter Alexis is ready to carry on the tradition. Greg calls her awesome, an excellent teacher with a strong business sense.

Once the pandemic settles down, Alexis will be opening her own dojo, but for now she’s had to adjust.

“This new phase of business is going to be virtual, online classes,” said Greg. “We have it set up so she’s got her own studio and she teaches, you know, several classes at night.”

Greg and Judy are there to support her and they plan to continue to train and get in some travel.

Greg has started cancer treatments and said he’s getting good reports.

“You know, it’s just like anything else, you know? I’m a fighter, so I’ll face it head on,” said Greg. “And I plan on winning the grand championship with this.”

As he approaches his 80th birthday, Greg has a lot more to give.

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