Tag Archives: Allen Steen

Joe Lewis, The World’s Greatest Karate Fighter Of All Time

Whenever I ask people, who aren’t involved in martial arts and karate in specific, about the greatest karate fighter they will in most cases name Bruce Lee and/or Chuck Norris.

Joe Lewis? Not really.

That got me thinking.

Without a doubt, Bruce Lee was and Chuck Norris still is a formidable martial artist and fighter.

The exposure both of them received through television and movies made them household names, worldwide.

Again, Joe Lewis? Nope.

What amazes me about Joe Lewis is that as a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa in 1965 he started studying Shorin-Ryu Karate at the youthful age of 18 and reportedly attained his black belt in only 7 (seven!) months.

After his military service Joe Lewis returned to the United States and in 1966 he began his unmatched tournament karate career.

At times, he trained with martial arts legend Bruce Lee, who by the way did not compete in any tournaments.

During 1966 to 1974 Joe Lewis competed on the tournament circuit as well as a professional kick-boxer winning national and world titles as a heavyweight fighter. He is considered the “Founding Father of Kickboxing in the Western Hemisphere”.

Throughout his career he fought famous fighters such as Allen Steen, Thomas LaPuppet, Louis Delgado, Skipper Mullins, Victor Moore, Joe Hayes, Benny “The Jet” Urquidez and yes, Chuck Norris.

Joe Lewis was an original member of the U.S. World Karate Team that also consisted of Mike Stone, Skipper Mullins, Chuck Norris and his friend and student, Bob Wall.

Joe Lewis starred in a number of action-adventure movies such as “Jaguar Lives” and “Force Five” and has received numerous awards for his achievements in and out of the ring.

In 1983, karate living legend Joe Lewis was chosen by his peers and fellow fighters as “The World’s Greatest Karate Fighter Of All Time”.

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Grandmaster George E. Mattson, Uechi-Ryu Karate Legend

Today’s post features another great martial artist who looks back on more than 50 (fifty!) years of training and teaching Uechi-ryu karate.

Uechi-ryu Grandmaster George E. Mattson is rightfully considered a martial arts pioneer and I am sure you will agree with me after reading today’s post.

Uechi-ryu karate  is a powerful, hard style, which even though it is considered Okinawan, originated in China. It was brought to Okinawa in the very early 1900s by Kanbun Uechi. It offers a lot of similarities with Goju Ryu karate. Uechi-ryu is characterized by upright stances, circular blocks, grabs, open hand and one knuckle techniques plus low kicking, often using the big toe.

As a 19-year-old stationed with the U.S. miltary on the island of Okinawa in 1956, Sensei Mattson was the first American to be taught Uechi-ryu karate and consequently the first American to be given a Black Belt Certificate.

Just several years later, in 1964, he was caught on film as a member of a distinguished group of other martial arts legends during Ed Parker’s Long Beach International Karate Championships.

Most of these martial arts greats have been featured or at least mentioned here before.

Check this out:

 How many do you recognize?

Front Row Left To Right: J. Pat BurlesonBruce LeeAnthony MirakianJhoon Rhee.

Back Row Left to Right: Allen Steen, George Mattson, Ed Parker Sr., Tsutomu Ohshima,Robert Trias.

For a true martial arts enthusiast, this is a truly epic photo.

I just think of how many millions of people, young and old, have been positively affected by these masters’ teachings. Nothing short of amazing!

But back to 9th Dan, George E. Mattson:

Master Kanei Uechi, the son of the style’s founder Kanbun Uechi, asked him in 1958 to introduce and spread Uechi-ryu Karate in America. Sensei Mattson complied and over-delivered.  He proceeded in opening a Dojo (school) in Boston and published the very first textbook on Uechi-ryu Karate “The Way of Karate” in 1963.

Since this time Sensei Mattson, who has led the North American Chapter of the international Uechi-Ryu community, has continued to teach  countless students from all corners of the world.  Many have gone on to become accomplished masters in their own right.

Turning the backs on the cold winters of New England, Sensei Mattson and his wife retired in sunny Central Florida.

Retired?

Not really, because in Mount Dora, not too far from Orlando, you can still watch this Uechi-ryu karate legend teaching at his Shubukan (“House of Warrior Training”).