Sensei Fortunato Vela, 4th Dan

Self-Bio: "I started learning martial arts when I was 8 years old. I got interested when GM Ed Parker appeared on the Lucy show. There wasn’t much for martial arts schools in Visalia, California at the time. Then my YMCA counselor told me about Judo at the YMCA. I asked my parents if I could join. My mom took me and signed me up and so began my training. The highest rank I received was purple belt at that time. It took me 2 years My mom told me that I had to drop it because we could not afford it anymore. Then I got books on more martial arts study.


A flier was presented at my elementary school for free karate lessons, I brought it to my mom and dad but my mom told me “no.” So I began sneaking out of the house on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays for the free karate lessons. Sometimes telling them I was going to go play with friends, but it wasn’t a lie because my friends were taking it with me. That was my introduction to Kyokushin karate-Do. My instructors were Sensei Manuel Morales and Sensei Raymond Gomez. A couple of years later I found a Shotokan School and signed up there, under the instruction of Sensie Richard Bursiaga. The classes there were on Tuesdays and Thursday, which worked out great and I studied the two arts at the same time. I progressed quickly, as the two arts were similar at least up through Pinan Yodan and Heian Yodan.


Both schools closed and I was without a Sensei. I continued training on my own until I met Sensei Timothy Lee Lewis who began to teach me Okinawan-Te. I received my Kuro Obi Shodan in 1977 in that art. He told me that because of the early training and lessons from the others schools that I was able to progress rapidly. Sensei Lewis moved to Canton Ohio and I was again without a Sensei. In 1982, I moved to Phoenix Arizona and began studying Kenpo Karate with Sensei Randy Morgeson and Sensei Jeff Allen Dukes. They accepted my rank of black belt after I gave them a demonstration of my skills and they made me an instructor in exchange for Kenpo lessons. I soon received a promotion to 1st degree black belt in that system of Kenpo Karate. A couple of years later, I met Sensei Tory Tura. Sensei Tura continued my path of Kyokushin and Shotokan and ranked me in both and I continue to train in these systems as of today. My new Sensei is Hanshi Sid Reyford who is teaching me my final system; Kobayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do.




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