STEVE ZALAZOWSKI, SR.
UMASDA Executive Director
Autobiography of Steve Zalazowski, Sr.
Portrait by Ed Parker Jr.
As a kid I was always the smallest, and with that came the requisite targeting as the easiest to bully on the block. As far back as I can remember visiting the library I was an avid reader, and once I graduated from the learn to read and easy to read style children’s books, I found out that there was a section in every library for sports literature – and contained therein were numerous books on martial arts. I read everything I could check out from my local libraries that had anything to do with karate, aikido, jujitsu, etc. long before I knew they could all help me learn self defense.
Luckily in high school I finally started growing, and by the end of my junior year I had actually reached the same height as my classmates. While I was no longer the target for bullying, the desire to learn to physically defend myself was still a major gnawing piece of my daily life. In late 1998 I had the opportunity to begin training at the bequest of a long time friend of mine, and since that day in January ’98 I can state unequivocally I have had something martial arts related going on every single day.
I have been immensely blessed to be in the right place, at the right time, to learn from and be smacked around when necessary by some absolutely amazing instructors and teachers. Never content with what I have this second in time, I have always pressed forward with every subject that holds my interest…when I was a kid they called that ADHD…today I see it as the ability to successfully multitask and store a ton of information. At one point in my training I was simultaneously studying Yasashii Do, T’ai Chi, Jujitsu, Kenpo, and Tae Kwon Do, but I did have to deal with numerous injuries in my life that forced me to change paths too. Knowledge has no value unless shared, so it has long been important to me to share knowledge with people that are willing to help me learn.
Without a doubt, the biggest influence in my martial career has been the man I have called my teacher since 2006, Dr. Ron Chapél. I was blessed that wherever I was, I have always had the freedom to ask “why…how…show me more…”, but never prior did I have the answers available in the manner that truly speaks to the deep recesses of my soul that yearn for information. I would be remiss if I did not thank several other individuals for their contributions to my career as well, for without them I could not possibly be where I am today.
Hanshi Everett Rodriguez from Yasashii Do Martial Arts gave me my start, with his senior student Brooks Cathey also giving me my first lessons in teaching. I learned so much from my history with Yasashii Do that the contributions to my career are immeasurable.
Senior GrandMaster Chuck Sullivan & GrandMaster Vic LeRoux lit my kenpo flame, and provided me the opportunity to teach at an international seminar for several years. I owe the two of them eternal gratitude for allowing me to spend the years working for the IKCA and growing immensely as a teacher. I was also their webmaster for a while and handled several other duties at Mr. LeRoux’s request.
Kwan Jang Nim Alejandro Mora of the Salinas TaeKwonDo Academy has been a part of my life since 2000 when I was introduced to him by one of his students and a mutual friend. I learned about managing a school when Master Mora put me in charge of his business as the Dojang Manager, and we built the school from 108 students to 255 before I resigned my position for a full time job opportunity. Absolutely one of the most generous men I’ve been blessed to call my teacher and my friend. I am proud to be one of his black belts as well.
Sigung Dan Farmer was there for me at a time when I was very close to quitting martial arts entirely. Had it not been for his reaching out and providing a supportive voice and when needed a kick in the pants, I would not have been mentally ready to start UMASDA in 2005 when our founding students asked me to do so. Sigung was there with counsel, humor, and served as the original Senior Advisor to UMASDA until his passing. Many times a phone call with Sigung was the catalyst to developments that are felt years later with the direction of our coursework. I miss him terribly.
And absolutely, completely I am humbled and grateful for the students I have been privileged to teach for the years since 2005 that UMASDA has operated. I have been blessed to work with some outstanding practitioners and several who have become outstanding instructors in their own right. Every single day we see improvement made, and in each student our school legacy is enriched. It is truly my honor to see this organization grow to where we are today and for the future.
My duties for UMASDA have included all facets of running the organization – from development of coursework to property management and everything in between. My greatest responsibility is also my most favorite, which is facilitating the instruction of our material to our students. Our standards are extremely high, and we accept no excuses; hard work is the only means of achievement for our students. I have watched our first generation students grow and become wonderful instructors themselves, and in the process motivate me to keep pushing our organization forward. I serve as the Executive Director for both the UMASDA branch as well as the 501C3 Non-Profit Corporation, dedicated to the Research, Development, and Instruction of Self Defense methods, as well as holding various positions for other organizations. My wife and children are the most important pieces of my life, with my students, peers, and teachers running close behind. To all those who have shared with me, past – present – or future – I thank you, and I look forward to the future.
Biography featured in the 2nd Edition of the Kenpo Continuum, compiled by Amy Long.
Featured in the following publications:
*Second Edition of the “Kenpo Continuum” compiled by Amy Long
*First Edition of “Who’s Who in Combat Hapkido”, published by DSI, Inc.
- Founder – American Martial Science™ / AMS™ CORE
- Co-Founder – Peaceful Journey Martial Studies
- 6th Degree Black Belt / Senior Teacher – American Martial Science™ / Farmer
- 6th Degree Black Belt / American Martial Science™ / Chapél
- 5th Degree Black Belt/Teaching Credential – IKCA Chinese Kenpo / Sullivan & LeRoux
- 3rd Degree Black Belt/Teaching Credential – Yasashii Do Martial Arts / Rodriguez
- 1st Degree Black Belt – ICHF Combat Hapkido / Pellegrini
- 1st Degree Black Belt – American Chuán-fa / Chapél
- Senior Black Belt/Administrator – Farmer’s Dynamic Kenpo Concepts / Farmer
- 1st Degree Black Belt – Tae Kwon Do / Mora
- Blue Belt – Dan Zan Ryu Jujitsu / Clement
- Staff Instructor – MSU Online Campus / Chapél