SENSEI M. BRIAN STOIA
Martial Arts Bio
I began studying Uechi-ryu Karate in June of 1973, at the Mattson Academy of Karate in Boston. I studied under Senseis Al Wharton, Buzz Durkin, Bob Campbell, and Clarence Wilder. When I moved to western Mass,
I began to study under Sensei Frank Gorman in Pittsfield. Along with Sensei Gorman himself, I studied with some of his students, including Senseis Bob Dus and Pat Litano. My other western Mass Uechi connection
was Sensei Joan Neide. Neide Sensei lived a total of two years on Okinawa, where she studied with the late Grand Master Kanei Uechi and the late Master Seiyu Shinjo, one of the foremost practitioners on Okinawa and a student of Kanbun Uechi. Senseis Wilder, Litano and Neide have had the most influence on my more than 45 years in Uechi. Neide Sensei is my Uechi teacher. In August 2014, I was awarded the title of Kyoshi by the International Uechi-ryu Karate Federation (IUKF). In November 2015, I was awarded the title of Shihan, master teacher. Upon the recommendation of Neide Sensei, I was tested for and promoted to Hachidan (8th Degree Black Belt) and awarded the title of Hanshi by Grand Master George E. Mattson and the IUKF in August 2018.
I began teaching Uechi-ryu in the early 1980s. I taught Uechi at both Umass and Amherst College, through school clubs. I also ran a program in Hadley for kids and adults for a couple of years in the early 1990’s. I moved that program to Hatfield in 1994, working exclusively with kids. After those many years as an itinerant teacher, I opened the Hatfield Shubukan (now Western Mass Karate Center) in 1997, offering classes again for both kids and adults.
Since 1990, I have had the great fortune and pleasure to train in a number of other martial systems, in particular: Modern Arnis (Filipino stick fighting) with Professor Remy Presas and Sensei Richard Roy; Yang Style Taijiquan (long form) with Master Luping Zhang and his son, Huan Zhang; and Bajiquan with Master Kai Yu. These arts and teachers have greatly influenced and improved my approach to Uechi Karate. All of the teachers and students with whom I have trained over the years have greatly enriched my life and my practice. They have kept me honest and have reminded me how much more I need to learn. I am most grateful to them all.
Highlights from Sensei's Sandan (3rd degree Pittsfield, MA tournament 1992: Sensei spars black belt) test, 1987. for first place in middle-weight division.
I am originally from eastern Mass, born and raised in Boston. I graduated from Boston Latin School in 1975 and headed west for UMass. I graduated from UMass in 1979 with a B.A. in Education/Human Services. During my last couple of years at the University, I interned as a juvenile probation officer, as a drop-in counselor at the Amherst Youth Center, and as an educational programmer at Westfield Detention Center. I spent the year after graduation in national service working as a VISTA Volunteer in Decatur, Illinois. In 1981, soon after I returned to the Valley, I studied furniture making and design at Leeds Design Workshops, in Easthampton, MA, under English-born master furniture maker David Powell. I operated a fine furniture and cabinet business for about 6 years, at Leverett Craftsmen and Artists and have continued designing and building as time allows. From 1989 until 2003, I worked as a legal advocate/paralegal for Western Mass Legal Services in Springfield, where I represented low-income disabled adults and kids before the Social Security Administration. After a hiatus from the human services/legal world, I re-entered the field working as a Court Investigator for the Hampden County Juvenile Court - 2009 through 2013. At present (since February 2013), I work as an Investigator for the Committee for Public Counsel Services (the Public Defender's Office), in Springfield, MA. 4. Whain-Chin-