Professor Greg Lontayao Jr. was born on May 2, 1937.
His journey into martial arts was influenced by his father, Graciano Lontayao Sr., who was born in 1907 on a small Visayas island paradise named Siquijor in the Philippines. The Spanish called it “Isla del Fuego”, the Island of Fire. The Europeans traveled there to write about the mangukukulam or healers and the sorcery and healing powers they possessed.The people of Siquijor enjoy music ,and Sayau (dance). Graciano Sr., an Escrimador master,once told a story about when be was a young boy he would play the sticks and spar with friends and how on one certain night on a day like Good Friday people stay awake from midnight until dawn. Graciano Sr.’s goal was to move to the states to Califomia, to go to school but his destiny changed and in 1920 he settled in Hawaii and started bis family.
When he was a boy, Graciano Lontayao Jr. was once warned by his father, “If you come home crying, I’ll beat you myself.” So in 1951, Graciano Jr., at the age of 14, joined the judo class at the Ewa Gym in Ewa, Hawaii, under Sensei Watanabe, Sensei Abe, Sensei Ventura, Sensei Friatas and Sensei Ben Palacio. He also studied Aikido under Sensei Sugai and Sensei Yoko. Having been born and raised in Ewa, Hawaii, he was locally accepted by many martial arts instructors who came from all nationalities. The Ewa plantation villages was where many people from overseas resided and brought with them their different martial arts skills. Learning martial arts in the 1950’s wasn’t easy. The art was more disciplined and intense. Questions and complaints were considered a sign of weakness. During training and sparring there were often bones broken.
In one village, called Banana Camp, Graciano Jr. began learning his boxing skills from instructor Ben Apostadairo, Richard Choi, Frank Lagon and Art Respicio. During his teenage years, he had to keep up his studies in school in order to continue his martial arts training and to play sports. In his senior year of high school, he led the Waipahu High School basketball team to the championship and became an All Star player.
He studied Kempo Karate at CHA-3 under Professor Marino Tiwanek and Kaji-Kumi Karate under Master Raymond Tobosa. Master Tobosa and Sensei Lontayao attended a seminar by Master Mas Dyama from Japan of Kyu Shin Kai Karate in Jodo Mission of Hawaii. After studying under Master Tobosa for nine years, he was promoted to Sensei 5th degree Black Belt in 1963. Grandmaster Fred Lara, Master of Internal Poison hand system and Red Belt Highest Rank from Grandmaster William K.S. Chow, took him in as his student where he began to learn more and became Sensei (Rokudan) 6th degree Black Belt in Shiki Shin Funi Association of Hawaii.
At about the same time, Sensei Lontayao started a school in the San Francisco area. In 1964 he entered the Black Belt Kumite and matched up with Dan Inosantos, losing the match by one point. The tournament with Ed Parker’s first International Karate Championship, where many witnessed Professor Ben Largusa, the current Grandmaster of Kali, and the legendary Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do demonstration. On the day Sensei Greg Lontayao was introduced to Kali.
In 1967 Sensei Greg Lontayao met then advisor, Grandmaster Ming Lum, who later introduced him to Kung-fu. He began lessons in White Crane under Sifu Quinton Fong and Sifu Ma in San Francisco’s China Town. He also traveled, to Hong Kong and, on the recommendation of Grandmaster Ming Lum, met Kung-fu Grandmaster Kwock.
In 1972 Sensei Lontayao joined together whith then Professor Ben Largusa and opened the first commercial school of Kali in South San Francisco, teaching the late Grandmaster Floro Villabrille/Largusa legendary Kali system. Under the same roof, Sensei Lontayao was teaching Shiki shin Funi and learning Kali. He was chosen by Professor Ben Largusa to be one of the original 12 disciples of Kali. Professor Lontayao was promoted on February 18, 1978, to Guro Lakang Tolo 3rd step; on February 18,1978, to Guro Lakang Lima 5th step; on February 18, 1983 to Lakang Onom 6th step; on October 1, 1984, to Lakang Pito 7th step and, eventually on February 18,1988, to Lakang Walo 8th step.Then on August 14,1994, he was promoted to the highest-ranking professor in the Villabrille/Largusa Kali system, Lakang Polo 10th step.
Professor Greg Lontayao, now 64, lives in Ewa where he grew up. Although he is retiring as Professor of the Lontayao Martial Arts Organization, he will still remain active as an advisor and in approving promotions.