Sensei Sam Milton grew up in Lowell and decided to open a dojo so kids and adults can learn the craft he has loved and been a part of for four decades. Milton Bushido-Ryu Karate is located at 1004 W Main Steet, Unit 3, in the small strip mall by Speedway, and held its first class on July 11.
Bushido-Ryu Style of Karate
Milton grew up in Lowell until his family moved away in 1981. However, after being in the military, he decided to move back to Lowell in 1992, with no plans of leaving. He and his wife have three daughters as well as three granddaughters, all of whom live in Lowell. His wife, Christine, helps at the dojo.
Karate began for Milton in 1983 when he was introduced to Isshin-Ryu, which is the base for Bushido-Ryu. He received his black belt in 1989 and now holds a 6th-degree black belt in the style. Milton has also studied Kung Fu and Tang Soo Do but says his passion has always been with Isshin-Ryu.
As Milton studied karate, his instructor had a special designation that could be earned – Bushido. This was given to students who showed special qualities and drive. You had to hold honor and respect in high regard in addition to excelling at your current rank. Milton earned this designation as a green belt when he was 16 and was one of the youngest and lowest ranks to achieve the title of Bushido.
This experience has stayed with Milton and is one of the reasons he wants to teach others. Bushido-Ryu is a model with a focus on anti-bullying. “One of my daughters was bullied in school and I was able to help her through it, but that was one on one, me and her,” says Milton. “Now one of my granddaughters said she was being picked on or bullied at school I decided then it would be better to try to get to the community as a whole and not just one child. That was why I decided to open the school, to help everyone of every age group become a better and stronger version of who they are.”
Earlier this year Milton presented his idea of Bushido-Ryu to the International Isshin-Ryu Karate Association. Adding the Bushido code as part of the class meant having the association accept this as an official daughter style to Isshin-Ryu. The Bushido code consists of 7 tenets – Honor, Respect, Integrity, Heroic Courage, Honesty and Sincerity, Duty and Loyalty, and Compassion. This component is added to the Isshin-Ryu style of fighting and self-defense students are taught.
Teaching and Continued Learning
Milton says he is still learning and will forever continue to learn karate. “Many people feel the black belt is the goal,” he remarks. “For some that is great, for others like me, it is the continued gaining of knowledge and understanding. I now work with the other masters of my style and continue to learn.”
One of these masters told Milton, “You learn more about karate by teaching karate.” Part of Milton’s continued learning will now involve teaching others.
Hour-long classes run throughout the week with beginners starting at 6pm and advanced classes at 7:15pm. A typical class will start with warm-ups followed by a review of the basics and finally learning new skills. In addition to punches, kids, stances, and fighting drills, students will also learn about respect and discipline. As students progress there will be opportunities to learn Kata and Okinawan weapons.
In addition to classes during the week, there are two open session times on Saturdays from 9am – 10:30am or 10:30am – 12pm. And a Saturday beginners class is available at 1pm with an advanced class starting at 2:15pm.
Younger students, ages 5 and 6, can attend Little Ninjas on Tuesday and Thursday from 5pm – 5:30pm. This class touches lightly on technique and has a more loosely structured environment. The learning will be through playing games and working together.
All students will begin with a white belt and work to progress through the different belt colors. Having previous karate experience will help students promote faster. New students are invited to try out one class before signing up for a plan. Information about plans and pricing can be found on their website.
The Importance of Karate for All Ages
Milton says self-confidence is beneficial at any age and is one of the main things developed as a student of karate. It’s something done at the individual’s pace and you must hold yourself accountable. For adults, karate is an exercise base that is both physical and mental.
The anti-bullying focus will also help students of all ages learn to deal with a variety of problems that can be faced. “Bullying does not just happen in school; it happens all around in many different forms,” comments Milton. “Martial arts training that focuses on bullying helps students identify and deal with it however it may come.”
Through the Bushido-Ryu approach, Milton’s goal is to make a difference for those who are bullied as well as the bully him or herself. He says the bully is often forgotten in the equation. His program aims at showing mutual respect and compassion for everyone so that an individual’s eyes will be opened to the world around him or her showing how both positive and negative actions affect others. An in-depth write-up of Milton Bushido-Ryu’s anti-bullying program can be seen here.
Sensei Milton is looking forward to giving back to the community as he works with kids and adults teaching the art of karate while also learning about respect and compassion for yourself and others. For more information, visit the Milton Bushido-Ryu website or their Facebook page.
Photos courtesy of Milton Bushido-Ryu Karate and used with permission.