Mon, 02 Jan 2012 10:02:29

executive board

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.

Board Members

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.

Grand Master Mitch Kobylanski

9th Degree Black Belt - President

Master Kobylanski was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts on August 26, 1953. He began training in Isshinryu Karate at the age of 15 in Holyoke. The school was owned and operated by Grand Master Lewis Lizotte and the assistant instructors were Master Ron Boucher and Master Chester Holubecki. All three of these men had a significant impact in providing a strong base in his training and maturation in the martial arts. Master Kobylanski attained his Sho-Dan in 1971 at the age of 18 and his Hachi-Dan in 2000. In August 2003, Master Kobylanski was inducted into the Isshinryu Hall of Fame.

Master Kobylanski was very active in the New England tournament circuit from 1969 through the mid 70's. In January of 1977, Master Kobylanski moved to Monroe, North Carolina and started a dojo. One of his first students at this dojo was a young man who trained hard and achieved his Black Belt. His number 1 student Master Tim Boykin continues to train hard, teach good Isshinryu and he is also a member of the AOKA Promotion Board.

In 1973 and again in 1975, Master Kobylanski was rated as one of the top kumite competitors in New England. In 1975, he was the Massachusetts Kumite Grand Champion and he only weighed 135 lbs. He was awarded the Spirit of Isshinryu from the AOKA in 1995 and the Sensei of Sensei award from the Isshinryu Hall of Fame in 1999.

As a long standing member of the AOKA, Master Kobylanski has had the pleasure of serving on both the Promotion Board and the Junior Board for the AOKA. He truly believes that martial arts training establishes an excellent base onto which we can build our character, self esteem, discipline, respect and loyalty.

Master Kobylanski has a B.S.I.E. and an MBA and has worked as a Manufacturing Manager for over 25 years in a variety of different businesses. He is married and has four children. He resides and teaches in Weddington, North Carolina.

Grand Master Ronald L. Boucher

9th Degree Black Belt - Vice President

Ron Boucher began his martial arts training after high school with Mr. Lewis Lizotte and made First Degree Black Belt in 1967. Mr. Boucher spent 1967 - 69 with the U.S. Army as an Operations N.C.O. with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, NC.

After the military, Ron resumed his martial arts training with Mr. Lizotte. Active as both an instructor and competitor, Mr. Boucher was ranked among the top fighters in New England during most of the 1970's and was regionally rated the top forms and weapons competitor in the 1980's.

Mr. Boucher has been active in various martial arts organizations throughout his career, having served on the Board of Directors for the Karate Referees' Association of New England (KRANE), and the American Okinawan Karate Association (AOKA).

Mr. Boucher has served as a tournament coordinator for most of the major national tournaments in New England. Ron has been awarded the AOKA "Instructor of the Year" and "Spirit of Isshinryu" awards, along with being inducted into the KRANE Hall of Fame.

Mr. Boucher is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a Bachelors Degree in Science and Natural Resources Conservation. He is employed as a project superintendent for a local developer and is in charge of construction for residential projects.

Grand Master Albert Mady

9th Degree Black Belt - Board Member

Master Mady was born 1 September 1958 in Windsor Ontario Canada. He began his martial arts training in Judo in 1969 and began his Isshinryu training under Master Robert Markovich in 1970 and also training under Master Lloyd Russette, receiving his Shodan in 1976 from Harry Acklin, who promoted him through Rokudan, and his Ku Dan in July of 2006. Additionally, he has studied a variety of martial arts, including Ryukyu Kempo, Shorinji Ryu, Toyama Ryu and Kyokushin kai.

Master Mady joined the American Okinawan Karate Association (AOKA) in April of 1990. He has many affiliate dojos across Canada and as far away as Berlin, Germany. He is very active in the professional full contact fighting circuit as a coach and trainer for several international level events, including the Shidokan World championships, the Sabaki World championships, the Ultimate Test World Kyokushin kai championships, K1 USA and Japan.

Master Mady also devotes numerous hours per week in support of traditional Isshinryu instruction, as well as self-defense training in support of local law enforcement personnel, sexual assault crisis centers and high school physical education classes.

His numerous awards include being inducted into the Isshinryu Hall of Fame the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame in 2006.  He has also been awarded the Spirit of Isshin Ryu (2 awards, 1997 and 2001), and three North American Breaking Championships. Master Mady formerly served as chairman of the AOKA Advisory and Promotion boards and is currently a member of the AOKA Board of Directors.

Master Mady and his wife Angela have two children: Chucky and Nicole. He has studied business at St Claire College, and feels his greatest accomplishment, other than his family, is continuing to be a dedicated martial artist.

Grand Master William Salinardi

9th Degree Black Belt -  Board Member

William (Bill) Salinardi served in the Air Force from 1961 through 1965. After leaving the military he began training in Isshinryu in 1965 under Grand Master Lewis Lizotte. Master Salinardi has also trained in the arts of Judo and Jujitsu.

Master Salinardi has been active in various martial arts organizations throughout his career. He served as an official for the Karate Referees' Association of New England (KRANE) for 30 years. He is a tournament coordinator for the American Okinawan Karate Association (AOKA), served on the AOKA Promotion Board and is currently a member of the AOKA’s Executive Board.

Master Salinardi has been awarded the AOKA "Instructor of the Year", "Spirit of Isshinryu" and inducted into the Isshinryu Hall of Fame.