Joe Rea Phillips has practiced the martial arts since 1977. He received his first black belt in 1980 through training in Northern Shaolin and Chinese Kickboxing and continued training to receive a 2nd degree black belt in 1981. He began his teaching experience by teaching a Kung Fu class for Volunteer State Community College. During this time he began training with Doug Smith. While training, he taught classes for Doug Smith at the Hendersonville School of Martial Arts. In 1984 he was issued a black belt by Sifu Smith in KickBoxing and Wing Chun.
In 1984 Sifu Phillips began studying with James Cravens who is seated on the left side in the photo. Professor Cravens is the President of Chinese Boxing Institute International(CBII – photo on the right side above). Sifu Phillips first curriculum in CBII was Pa Kua Chang (Celestial Circling Dragon). He soon began training in Yang Style Tai Chi Chuan and the Chinese Boxing Synthesis Short Core Curriculum. He went on to receive teaching certificates from Professor Cravens in Pa Kua Chang, Tai Chi Chuan, and the Chinese Boxing Synthesis Short Core Curriculum. In 1994 Sifu Phillips was honored by Professor Cravens with the promotion to “Senior Student”
In 1996 Sifu Phillips began studying Chen Style Tai Chi Chuan (Old Large Frame) with Professor Cravens. In 2003 Phillips began training in the method of Chen Xiaowang through James Cravens who has became one of Chen Xiaowang’s disciples in 2006. This has included several seminars and trips to Chenjiagou with James Cravens to train with Chen Xiaowang. On March 28, 2012 Sifu Phillips traveled to Chenjiagou to participate in the Ba Si ceremony with Grandmaster Chen Xiaowang and received the designation of 20th Generation Indoor Disciple. Phillips has trained with the following martial artists including:
James Cravens (CBII curriculum, Pa Kua, Yang Style Tai Chi, Chen Style Tai Chi)
Tao Ping Siang (Yang Style Tai Chi)
Chen Quanzhong, Chen Zhenglei, and Chen Xiaowang (Chen Style Tai Chi)
International Tai Chi Symposium 2009 – trained with Chen Zhenglei (Chen Style), Yang Zhenduo (Yang style), Wu Wenhan (Wu Hao style), Ma Hailong (Wu style), and Sun Yongtian (Sun style)
In 1989 Joe Rea Phillips and a group of students at Vanderbilt University started the Vanderbilt University Kung Fu Club. Since that time Sifu Phillips has had the pleasure of serving as the faculty advisor and instructor of the club. As advisor to the club he has had the opportunity to teach excellent students and create lasting friendships. He was awarded Faculty Advisor of the Year in 1999 by Vanderbilt University.