OUR INSTRUCTORS

isshinryuronin

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View attachment 31018
ozman-trophy.jpg

I posted this (in part) on the recent thread "KARATE VS BEAR" but thought that some might like a chance to acknowledge their own MA instructors. Pictured here is Bob Ozman, my teacher and mentor for my first 20 years in the art. On the right is him with isshinryu founder, Shimabuku Tatsuo Soke. On the left is Bob practicing with one of his co-stars for the movie, The Island of Dr. Moreau, starring Burt Lancaster, where his character (half human, half bull) battles a tiger to the death. His friend, master Demura Fumio, also had a part.

But he is much better known as one of the early karate pioneers in Southern California. He received his lower black belts from Clarence Ewing in Indiana where he was the state wrestling champion prior to his karate training. He was a fearsome fighter but also gentle, humble without ego or pretension, and well respected by the other early karate greats in the West. He taught all of us teens (he had no kids of his own), and later young men, more than just karate. I was his second black belt.

Share your instructors' stories, even if you wish to leave them unnamed.

Edit: Not sure what happened to the other 2 photos, but they do appear in the thread Karate vs Bears so take a look there.
 
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My sensei is a 9th dan student of the late Sherman Harrill and Harold Mitchum, who were 1st generation students of Shimabuku Tatsuo Soke as well. He's a PhD, Captain in the Civil Air Patrol, university professor, owner of several successful businesses, and pilot. He has been training in Isshinryu for 50 years. He's an inductee to the Isshinryu Hall of Fame.

I am truly fortunate to have such a great instructor. Truly a good man as well as a great karateka.
 
Unnamed: My instructor trained many sambo fighters. There's a lack of sambo competitions outside of the panams, and russian national competitions.
None of his students are russian, and he is not russian himself (satellite nation). In multiple competitions, his students only won 2nd place, each losing on random technicalities to a russian in the finals.
 
Unnamed: My instructor trained many sambo fighters. There's a lack of sambo competitions outside of the panams, and russian national competitions.
None of his students are russian, and he is not russian himself (satellite nation). In multiple competitions, his students only won 2nd place, each losing on random technicalities to a russian in the finals.
Where did you train?
 
Where did you train?
For political purposes for my instructor, I'm leaving that out. There's not a whole lot of sambo schools being run in the US, and he has a very high ranking in competitive sambo/instruction - don't want to risk harming that by having his complaints listed online.
 
For political purposes for my instructor, I'm leaving that out. There's not a whole lot of sambo schools being run in the US, and he has a very high ranking in competitive sambo/instruction - don't want to risk harming that by having his complaints listed online.
No worries.
 
George Pesares dojo in Providence, Rhode Island first taught me how to fight. His under belts did. They encouraged me to take up boxing, so I did.

My boxing trainer, Joe Vassalo, taught me not to block with my face so much. And how to move in a ring how to use the ropes and how to keep my hands up. (Thanks, Joe.)

Bill Wallace taught me how to stretch and a little bit how to kick. (Thanks, Bill.)

Joe Lewis taught me how to fight. Taught me in several dojos as well as in my kitchen when he would stay at the house. I learned more from him than from anyone else. (Thanks, Joe)

Van Canna, Bob Bethany, Jay Salhanic, George Mattson and Bob Campbell taught me the beauty of Uechi Ryu. Taught myself, and all of my students how to behave as gentleman and representatives of the Martial Arts. (Beat our collective backsides a whole bunch, too. I am forever grateful for all of it.) (Thanks, gentlemen)

Billy Blanks taught me TKD and advanced, free style kicking, which differs from TKD. Not better, not worse, just different. (Thanks, Billy)

Ed Parker taught me how to stay away from Martial politics and how to throw hands in ways I didnt know anything about. (Thanks, Ed)

Wally Jay taught me some nice standup Jits and how to have more fun training. (Thanks, Wally)

Rickson and Relson Gracie, as well as some of their purple, brown and black belts, taught me about fighting on the ground. Both in their dojos and in Relsons garage. (Thanks, gentlemen, thanks BJJ)

My first instructor, Jack so and so, taught me everything an instructor should not be. He ALWAYS taught by example. (Thanks, Jack. Karma was a bee-ach wasnt it?)

Ive been the luckiest student Ive ever heard of.
 
@Buka ,
Ok now your just showing off. Lol
All kidding aside your a lucky man for all the wonderful people you've trained with and gifts they have given you.
But I know you know that.
I do know that, buddy. And I sure didnt deserve the good fortune and happenstance that fell on my fool head.
 
I do know that, buddy. And I sure didnt deserve the good fortune and happenstance that fell on my fool head.
Same in a sense (I was fortunate and not deserving of that good fortune).

My instructor isn't famous like the instructors you had, nor did I get the varied and interesting training. But I am also fortunate. Here I was, age 46, obese and recently diagnosed with diabetes, living by myself because I was on a contract job while my family was in NC and I was in MI in a tiny apartment. I just took it into my head to 'lose weight' and 'get in shape', but I knew I would not have the self-discipline to walk on a treadmill or what-have-you. I remembered back to my time in Okinawa in the Marine Corps, and remembered that "Isshin-Ryu" was the "Marine's Karate" as it was called then. I had worked with Uezu Angi Sensei when he was a Japanese Security Guard at the base where I was a Desk Sergeant in the Military Police. I did not train with him, but some of my people did, and they talked about him and isshinryu all the time.

I checked to see if there was an isshinryu dojo nearby and lo and behold, there was one only a few blocks from my apartment!

I dropped in, talked to a few of the instructors, and decided to join. $50 a month and no contract, perfect for me (I had received several pay cuts and was on the verge of bankruptcy).

I could not get through the warmups to start with. I would sweat and pant like a dog and end up sitting against the wall while the others worked out. But I kept showing up. I lost weight. I got better.

I did not know it at the time, but my instructor had been trained by some of the best, names people know and respect. Norbert Donnelly, Louis Grinnell, Allen Wheeler, Sherman Harrill, and Harold Mitchum. He'd been doing it for a very long time; his two main instructors had been with him since they were 15, and they were now in their 40s. The dojo was run as a labor of love - any profit was donated at the end of the year to charity. Instructors were all volunteers. Students cleaned the dojo after class.

I was never very good. No natural talent. I only had one redeeming quality - no sense of quit. I wasn't embarrassed to suck. I wasn't frustrated because I didn't 'get it'. I didn't worry about the things I could not do. I just did what I could do, and I kept training. I didn't worry about belts, I didn't worry about how I stacked up to my fellow students, I didn't worry that I was the oldest white belt in the class. I just kept showing up and training. And sucking maybe a bit less over time.

That's all I have to my story. I'm 63 now. I've been a 3rd Dan for 5 years. I just keep training. I realized fairly recently that some of our students consider me to be a good karateka, which makes me feel good. I wasn't good to start with, that's for sure. Just had great teachers and a desire to keep training. That's the only secret I know.
 
I've had a ton of instructors over the years. Some were great, some were mediocre, but I've learned from all of them. These days I consider my practice to be self-directed learning, which basically means I'll pick the brains of everyone I encounter and then test the ideas I find to see if they work for myself or my students.

My official* current BJJ and MMA coach is Mike O'Donnell. Mike is a 4th degree BJJ black belt under Carlson Gracie Jr and a 5th degree black sash in Ng Family Kung Fu under John DuFresne. He had a reasonably successful pro fighting career, has coached a number of successful fighters, and was the first BJJ black belt in the state of Kentucky.

*(Mike is more intermittent in his teaching these days due to various health issues. Last time Carlson was in town, Mike introduced me as the head BJJ coach for the gym. But he still has plenty of cool knowledge that I'll pick his brains for whenever I have a chance.)

My first Muay Thai coach was Oscar Kallet, a former pro kickboxer who now holds the title of Ajarn under Sakasem Kanthawong. My first (full-time) BJJ coach was Mike Patt, who had a successful pro fight career which took him as far as the UFC. My first Judo instructor was Mark Curry, who had won state and national championships and competed internationally.

I've had some very good instructors for arts that I only studied for one or two years, like Ernie Lake for FCS Kali, @yak sao for Wing Tsun, and Charuto Jordan for Capoeira. I've also had training partners at our gym who have shared some great information with me despite not being officially being my instructor. (For example 2x world boxing champion Darrin Van Horn.)

I've been lucky enough to attend seminars with a ton of very high-level practitioners, but I wouldn't list them as my instructors, since I haven't had that ongoing training relationship with them.
 
For me the main point is to seek out truly world class instructors in your chosen style
To get as much exposure to them as possible and to gravitate to the instructors who are close to the best of the best who can teach really well and will give you access and support
I've been lucky to find amazing instructors over the years
BJJ: Mauricio Gomes, Roger Gracie and Antonio Henrique for the gi and Kywan Gracie for no-gi
Bujinkan: I trained with Masaaki Hatsumi and all of his senior students when in Japan, but my main teacher/influence was Hideo Seno
 
George Pesares dojo in Providence, Rhode Island first taught me how to fight. His under belts did. They encouraged me to take up boxing, so I did.

My boxing trainer, Joe Vassalo, taught me not to block with my face so much. And how to move in a ring how to use the ropes and how to keep my hands up. (Thanks, Joe.)

Bill Wallace taught me how to stretch and a little bit how to kick. (Thanks, Bill.)

Joe Lewis taught me how to fight. Taught me in several dojos as well as in my kitchen when he would stay at the house. I learned more from him than from anyone else. (Thanks, Joe)

Van Canna, Bob Bethany, Jay Salhanic, George Mattson and Bob Campbell taught me the beauty of Uechi Ryu. Taught myself, and all of my students how to behave as gentleman and representatives of the Martial Arts. (Beat our collective backsides a whole bunch, too. I am forever grateful for all of it.) (Thanks, gentlemen)

Billy Blanks taught me TKD and advanced, free style kicking, which differs from TKD. Not better, not worse, just different. (Thanks, Billy)

Ed Parker taught me how to stay away from Martial politics and how to throw hands in ways I didnt know anything about. (Thanks, Ed)

Wally Jay taught me some nice standup Jits and how to have more fun training. (Thanks, Wally)

Rickson and Relson Gracie, as well as some of their purple, brown and black belts, taught me about fighting on the ground. Both in their dojos and in Relsons garage. (Thanks, gentlemen, thanks BJJ)

My first instructor, Jack so and so, taught me everything an instructor should not be. He ALWAYS taught by example. (Thanks, Jack. Karma was a bee-ach wasnt it?)

Ive been the luckiest student Ive ever heard of.
I have to admit, Im a little jealous. I have always wanted to train with Bill Wallace. Impressive group, congratulations.
 
I've had a ton of instructors over the years. Some were great, some were mediocre, but I've learned from all of them. These days I consider my practice to be self-directed learning, which basically means I'll pick the brains of everyone I encounter and then test the ideas I find to see if they work for myself or my students.

My official* current BJJ and MMA coach is Mike O'Donnell. Mike is a 4th degree BJJ black belt under Carlson Gracie Jr and a 5th degree black sash in Ng Family Kung Fu under John DuFresne. He had a reasonably successful pro fighting career, has coached a number of successful fighters, and was the first BJJ black belt in the state of Kentucky.

*(Mike is more intermittent in his teaching these days due to various health issues. Last time Carlson was in town, Mike introduced me as the head BJJ coach for the gym. But he still has plenty of cool knowledge that I'll pick his brains for whenever I have a chance.)

My first Muay Thai coach was Oscar Kallet, a former pro kickboxer who now holds the title of Ajarn under Sakasem Kanthawong. My first (full-time) BJJ coach was Mike Patt, who had a successful pro fight career which took him as far as the UFC. My first Judo instructor was Mark Curry, who had won state and national championships and competed internationally.

I've had some very good instructors for arts that I only studied for one or two years, like Ernie Lake for FCS Kali, @yak sao for Wing Tsun, and Charuto Jordan for Capoeira. I've also had training partners at our gym who have shared some great information with me despite not being officially being my instructor. (For example 2x world boxing champion Darrin Van Horn.)

I've been lucky enough to attend seminars with a ton of very high-level practitioners, but I wouldn't list them as my instructors, since I haven't had that ongoing training relationship with them.
I cant even remember most of the seminars Ive attended. But once in a while they lead to training with the person teaching that seminar.

I went to a seminar at George Pesares dojo. Joe Lewis was to teach. Somehow, miscommunication led to most people thinking it would be the following week.

Three of us went. There was only six people there to take the seminar. Joe Lewis walked in. He was told of the screw up. He shrugged and said no big deal, well train anyway.

The seminar was supposed to be two hours. Instead, he worked with us for four hours. Talked with us for another hour afterwards, sitting around on the floor drinking water, us asking him a ton of stupid youngmen questions. He was very patient and funny answering them.

I had the luck of the dumb going for me.
 

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