Hazel Crest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- World-renown martial arts guru Vincent “Shorty” Mills recently received a resolution from the Illinois House of Representatives honoring his many accomplishments and thanking him for his service to the community. The honor was presented by State Representative Al Riley, D-Olympia Fields.
“Shorty Mills is one of the most respected living martial arts instructors in the world,” Riley said.
Mills is a 10th degree black belt in Pagoda Ryu, in Shuri Ryu and in Moo Do Kwon Tae Kwon Do. He was the founder of the Pagoda Ryu Martial Arts System, which was tested and certified as a viable system of martial arts in 1996 by the World Martial Arts Federation and the Midwest United Martial Art Association.
Mills is also 6th degree black belt in Aikido from the Yoshinakai System of Aikido and a 5th degree black belt in Kendo.
“You have helped thousands of children learn self-esteem,” Riley told him. Riley is no stranger to the martial arts. A black belt himself, Riley and Mills have friendships with many other martial arts practitioners going back to the ’60s and ’70s. They nostalgically call that period “the golden age of Chicago Karate.”
A longtime south suburban resident, Mills began his martial arts career in 1956, at the age of 14. His devotion to martial arts has extended into volunteering for various community events and programs. He designed self-defense training programs for the Cook County Sheriff’s Court Services Department. He developed and taught rape prevention seminars for the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department. He also teaches underprivileged children martial arts through his non-profit organization, Pagoda Ryu System.
“What I try to get across is that martial arts is only 10 percent physical,” said Mills, who currently has a studio in Beverly. “It teaches character development and life skills. We as teachers want to see students become good persons and successful citizens. That’s what it’s all about.”
But martial arts isn’t Mills’s only area of expertise. He’s also a licensed pilot, a certified diver, a licensed electrical engineer and electrical contractor, and a member of the Rotary Club and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. Mills played professional basketball in Italy in 1969 until an injury forced him to leave the game. He earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 1964, his master’s degree in operations research from Roosevelt University, and another master’s degree in urban development/city planning from Northwestern University. He earned his Ph.D. in martial science from the University of Connecticut in 1995.
Mills joined the United States Navy in 1964 and was admitted into the Navy’s Officers Candidate School the next year. In 1968, he served in Vietnam for a total of 26 months. After completing two 13-month tours in Vietnam, he was stationed aboard the USS Sylvania for a year, and was honorably discharged in 1969.
Mills and his wife Pamela have two daughters and live in Hazel Crest.