I started my study and practice of karate in 1964 under Sensei Ken Kasianowicz at the Milwaukee Academy of Karate and Judo. This was the first karate studio in the city of Milwaukee. I achieved the rank of Ni Dan (2nd degree black belt) in Goshin Do Karate. In 1969, I established my first dojo in Waukesha, called Waukesha Academy of Karate and Judo. I taught karate and Arnie Klusman taught Judo.
Later in 1969, I met Sensei Tadashi Yamashita. I attended a seminar with him in Indiana and was completely amazed with his abilities. When Sensei Kasianowicz retired in 1970, I asked Sensei Yamashita to formally accept me as his student. He accepted me and my life changed forever. We have been together ever since practicing Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate and Kobudo.
In 1981, I opened the East West Connection in Hales Corners with my wife Jan. After two years, the time constraints of trying to run both dojos caught up to me. We sold our interest in the Waukesha school to one of my Black Belts. We then devoted all of our time to East West Connection.
People have asked me the questions “Why did you start karate and why do you continue?”. I was raised in kind of a rough area of the city and so to be truthful, to think that far back it was probably self-defense. Why do I continue? Because I have discovered my life’s passion. I love to learn, I love to teach and I love to see the positive changes it makes in my students lives.
These past years I have had the pleasure to:
What I am most proud of is longevity and quality of my students both past and present. However, do not worry we are not done yet. Come and join me on my never-ending journey to seek perfection in myself through the study of what is commonly referred to as the martial arts.
The study of Aikido over the years has become an integral part of who I am. It has been a means of staying healthy and active as I grow older. It has taught me many valuable techniques that I can employ as a business professional for engaging others in negotiations, and it has resulted in an ever-expanding social network locally and internationally.
When I started practicing Aikido, I was living in Japan in a northern fishing port city called Ishinomaki. I did not have any martial arts training. I did not speak the language, and I did not know anybody. I thought that by joining the local dojo, I could address each of these points. I was interested in learning a martial art, and since I was living in Japan, it seemed the perfect place to do so. While training, I was sure there would be many opportunities to learn the language at the same time. What is more, I was confident that I could make friends with other members of the dojo. Little did I know at the time how incredibly true this would turn out to be.
I still maintain strong friendships with many of the members of the Ishinomaki dojo. After the triple disaster of March 11, 2011, I was proud to organize charitable activities with broad support of the Midwest Aikido community help them directly in their efforts to rebuild.
Today, my training in Aikido continues to take me around the Midwest and regularly back to Japan. It continues to challenge me to remain physically fit and flexible with regular training, and it has developed a confidence and awareness that guide me both personally and professionally. It is more than a hobby or a workout routine, it is a way of life.
Michael has studied with a number of Tai Chi masters and Tai Chi instructors and has been practicing Tai Chi for over 30 years and teaching for over 20 years. He teaches a Yang style of Tai Chi, specifically Professor Cheng Man-Ch’ing’s short form. He also teaches some Qi Gong and Chan Si Gong exercises to supplement the Tai Chi form. He currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Westwood Health and Fitness Center and at the East West Connection Martial Arts & Wellness. In the past, he has taught for the Wisconsin Parkinson’s Association, YWCA and some local businesses.
Michael’s teaching emphasizes developing coordination, balance, whole body/mind-body connection, mindfulness, structural strength and a relaxed, flexible body.
I have been associated with East West Connection for over 20 years. I am very proud of the accomplishment that East West Connection has made in the past years of service. I am also very proud of our students and the accomplishments they have made.
I am happy to be a part of such a traditional dojo and yet a friendly and relaxing place to learn the Okinawan Shorin Ryu style of Karate. I believe you will enjoy it as much as I do. EWC is the place to be when choosing a traditional Karate dojo..