AOKA has an active Executive Board that is responsible for setting the mission and strategic direction of the organization and oversight of the finances and policies of the organization.
Grand Master Steve Young
9th Degree Black Belt - Chairman & CEO
Grand Master Steve Young was born in Carthage, Illinois on January, 10, 1955. He started his martial arts training in both Isshinryu and Shotokan in 1971. Grand Master Young progressed to the rank of Sho-Dan in both arts and gradually moved full training efforts into Isshinryu.
During the next 12 years, Grand Master Young was very active in the tournament scene. He also was very active in assisting in the dojo. Under the instruction of Sensei Jerry Tuzzo, Grand Master Young open his first dojo in Carthage.
Upon graduation from college, Grand Master Young moved to the Chicago area. At this point he was encouraged to contact Grand Master Stephen Armstrong to seek advice on continued training. Grand Master Armstrong invited Master Young to his Tacoma dojo. Each year Grand Master Young would travel to Tacoma, or arrange for Grand Master Armstrong to come to the Chicago area, to continue his training.
Through Grand Master Armstrong's introductions, Grand Master Young met Grand Master Lewis Lizotte and Grand Master Willie Adams. These masters became Grand Master Young's source for continued training and guidance. Grand Master Young now trains under Grand Master Lizotte.
Grand Master Young opened several dojos in the Chicago area during the late 1970's and continued through the mid 1990's. Grand Master Young's schools became a major faction of the American Okinawan Karate Association. During this era, Grand Master Young hosted two of the AOKA Grand Nationals. Heavy job related travel has forced many of the schools to close. The main dojo is located in Aurora with one of Grand Master Young's long-time students, Master Keith Smith, in-charge of the school.
Grand Master Young is currently an 9th Dan in Isshinryu Karate, a 1st Dan in Shotokan and a Brown Belt in Judo. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Okinawan Karate Association and was recently appointed as Chairman and CEO of the Association.
Grand Master Young has received a number of local and national awards for his support of martial arts, and specifically, the support of Isshinryu Karate. He was awarded the "Spirit of Isshinryu" by the AOKA Isshinryu Hall of Fame.
Grand Master Young is a Certified Public Accountant and holds an undergraduate degree in accounting. He also holds an MBA in Finance and has spent a large portion of his career in the auditing profession. Grand Master Young currently serves as Vice President of a joint venture based in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Grand Master Young currently resides in Wheaton, Illinois where is married and has two children, Jennifer and Joseph. Jennifer, Joseph and his wife, Kay, are all Black belts.