Marvin Gatling Credit: Contributed

The Harlem and martial arts communities were deeply saddened upon learning that a well-known fixture in Harlem for several decades had transitioned on to the ancestral realm recently. A local memorial was conducted last month commemorating the legacy of Sensei Marvin Gatling, who returned to the essence on January 31.

Born October 28, 1945, he attended Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx prior to joining the U.S. Army in 1967 and enduring the casualties of war in Vietnam during two tours of duty while a part of their special squad, the elite fighting force known as the Green Berets. They carried out many daring attacks, as well as rescue missions overseas.

Upon returning to Harlem several years later he continued practicing Jiu-Jitsu, eventually earning a 10th degree Black Belt, and was well known for sharing his technique with others so that they could acquire self-discipline and also properly protect themselves in spontaneous battles.

The military veteran could often be seen along Harlem’s 125th Street rocking his camouflage fatigues and green beret, which he proudly adorned daily. He was very approachable and sociable, often sharing his wealth of knowledge regarding the martial sciences with those who showed sincere interests, including members of the New York Police Department.

“My apparatus will enhance whatever you’re doing,” says Grandmaster Gatling, a.k.a. Harlem’s Iron Man, in his training video. “It’s about a Black way. I’m not trying to be Chinese, Korean, all the rest of them. I respect them because they preserved it, but they don’t show you what they need to show you.”

As an innovator, sometime during the mid-1990s, he devised his training device, simply known as “The Toy” a.k.a. “The Resistix,” originally named “The Life Preservation System.” It consists of two short cylindrical pieces of plexi-glass placed side-by-side, with an industrial-strength rubber-band wrapped several times around each end. Practitioners then would pull the pieces apart while the rubber-bands serve as resistance, and conduct isometric exercises which would develop certain external, as well as internal, muscles in the arms and upper-body.

“The harder you train, the stronger you become,” he notes. “It opens up your chakras and meridians. Technique alone is not good enough, you also need strength.”

One of his other loves was photography, and he was always seen with his camera, regularly capturing the pulse in Harlem’s streets. He photographed many popular activists, celebrities and scholars who ventured along Central Harlem’s streets.

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  1. Its obvious the author of this artical knows nothing of which he writes. For example the Green Berets are not Marines.
    The Green Berets are US Army Special Forces.
    Makes me wonder how much more in this artical is pure fiction

    1. The only incorrect comment made was about the branch of service he was I . Everything else is fact. I knew him personally

    2. He was definitely a Green Beret and an excellent martial artist. If he was called a Marine it was an error, everything else was right and exact. I knew the brother and he was an upright man. Always out and about on 125th street. He maybe gone in the physical yet he will always remain in the mind and hearts of many.

  2. I don’t really care too much about the military background. He was a serious martial artist who freely shared his knowledge. He has passed and his example was always always respect for his training. We actually never talked about his military background but you knew that he trained everyday. That is what should be remembered, I served and don’t really feel it was such an important phase of my life except for the friend’s I made

  3. The guy was never a Green Beret. You also state he was a Marine. The Army Green Beret’s is just that it’s Army special forces, not marines. The guy was a phony Promoting stolen valor.

    1. You are being disrespectful! He wore his BDU’s proud and boots always shined. There was nothing phony about this great warrior. If you do not know just ask any of the peoples from Harlem. Humble and always taught the people.

  4. All the hater comments are hilarious! I had been trying to get in touch with the professor for over a year ever since I saw his videos on YouTube! Sad I couldn’t connect with him! Is there any way to get one of his DVD’s or original “Toys”???

  5. RIP, Professor Gatling. Your humor, physical strength, and wisdom are missed. Being on 125th with you was a highlight of my live. You knew the 411 on almost everyone that was a regular that passed and tried to give advice to all of them.

    Sad that some people in the comments are trying to tear down your legacy, typical of people who have no life and seek to bring down a black icon. RIP. We gat this.

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