Instructor – Mentor Tributes

Sensei Barry H. Bernsten Sr. | Passed Away, February 28th, 2011

Sensei Bernsten was a veteran of the United States Marines, a Shichidan 7th degree black belt and long time owner of Bernsten’s House of Karate in Phoenix

As a young student of Sensei Bernsten, I had the opportunity to speak to him on many occasions, oftentimes late in the evening.  You see, as a teenager, I worked for Fry’s Food Stores in Scottsdale, AZ.  The only school that was open after I got off work was the House of Karate.  I enrolled in their Lifetime Membership Program back in 1988.  During the summer I participated in his student instructor program.

Sensei could be a very intimidating person to those who only observed him on the surface.  I saw him a bit different.  I saw him as a serious, dedicated martial artist who instilled respect but also demonstrated it.

When my parents got their divorce, Sensei Bernsten was the person I talked to… on several occasions.  One series of talks involved “3 powers of life… knowledge, money and strength”.  Talk about getting a young kid to think!  I’ll always remember him for his support, demonstrated work ethic and business drive.

RIP Sensei.

O’Sensei Philip Porter| Passed Away August 7th, 2011

O-Sensei Porter is considered by many “The Father of American Judo”. O-Sensei founded the United States Martial Arts Association.  He served in the U.S. Army and Air Force for 25 years, retiring as a Major in 1967.

O-Sensei was an unexpected mentor for me.  I belonged to the USMA but had never met him in person.  I was a young instructor and his organization was huge so I never thought he’d ever take an interest in me.

In 2002 I was deployed overseas during Operation Enduring Freedom.  That’s when O’Sensei and I began communication via email and phone.  Before then, I found it nearly impossible to contact him due to his incredibly demanding schedule.  However, he made time while I was in Uzbekistan & Afghanistan to reach out and provide guidance and support.  For that, I’ll always be grateful.

RIP O’Sensei.