Grand Master Lewis Lizotte
Sensei Lizotte was born in Caribou, Maine on August 22, 1935. He started his Martial Arts in the Art of Judo in 1947 at the age of 12. In 1949, he started training in Jujitsu. Prior to going into the Military Service in 1952, he trained for a short period in the Arts of Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu. In 1954, at the age of 19, he joined the U.S. Marine Corp. Like many other servicemen, Sensei Lizotte was looking for something to do during his off duty time. It was in 1955 when he decided to start training in Isshin-Ryu Karate. He met with and began formal training with Grand Master Shimabuku Tatsuo. Before leaving the Okinawan Island he would obtain brown belt level from Master Shimabuku. Sensei Lizotte would continue his training under Grand Master Don Nagle who was one of the chosen pioneers to head Isshin-Ryu in the United States. He received his black belt from Master Nagle in 1958. Sensei Lizotte was discharged from the Marine Corp. in 1959 and settled in the Chicago, Illinois area.
While in the Chicago area, he taught at the local YMCA. In 1960, he opened his own Dojo in the Chicago area. During the years in Chicago, he also taught self-defense tactics to various Law Enforcement Agencies. Later while in the Connecticut area he taught at area colleges and universities, such as the University of Massachusetts and Amherst College in Massachusetts.
On July 28, 1963, Sensei Lizotte became the first full contact Karate World Champion. In his first defense of the title in 1964, he was beaten by Mike Stone in a very close match. In 1964, he was chosen to perform a Martial Arts Demonstration at the Worlds Fair, held in New York City. Other notable Isshin-Ryu instructors on hand at the Worlds Fair included Gary Alexander, Don Bohan and Ed McGrath. Thousands of spectators were in attendance to witness the form World Champion perform. The following year, 1965, he was again chosen to perform at the Worlds Fair. Sensei Lizotte opened his first Dojo in the Enfield, Connecticut area in 1966. He then moved on to Holyoke, Massachusetts and opened a dojo. He also taught in his home in Somers, Connecticut until opening the current dojo in Enfield, Connecticut.
In 1967, Sensei Lizotte began training with Grand Master Steve Armstrong, who at that time was the owner, director and Chairman of the Board of the AOKA, an organization bounded by Tatsuo Shimabuku, Harold Mitchum, and Steve Armstrong in 1960. Master Armstrong was also one of the chosen Americans to head Isshin-Ryu Karate in the United States.
Sensei Lizotte came up through the Ranks being promoted to black belt by his second instructor Master Nagle and then by Master Armstrong and the AOKA. Master Lizotte is very active at the Dojo, he is there seven days a week and personally teaches the Black Belt instructors class on Monday and Wednesday evenings. Sensei Lizotte holds Dan ranks in Isshin-Ryu Karate, Jujitsu, and Judo. He is the owner, director and Chairman of the Board of the AOKA. He is very active on the tournament scene throughout the country. He hosted the annual Connecticut Karate Championships for many, many years. In addition he occasionally hosts the Annual AOKA Grand National Karate Tournaments. Sensei Lizotte was inducted into the Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame in 1989, the New England Black Belt Hall of Fame and the Krane Hall of Fame in 1991. in 1992, he was the recipient of the Spirit of Isshin-Ryu awarded by the AOKA Isshin-Ryu Hall of Fame.
Sensei Lizotte's profession is real estate development. He has constructed many homes and shopping malls in the Connecticut area. He currently resides in Enfield, Connecticut with his wife, Arlene. He has two children, Michelle and Paul. Paul is the co-owner and one of the Dojo instructors on the Dojo staff. Michelle is a microbiologist who teaches at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.