Executive Directors

Sensei Curt Sawyer, 8th Dan

Sensei Curt Sawyer is a true martial artist at heart. He currently owns Samurai Martial Arts in Rochester, NY. He’s on the floor teaching 5 days a weeks and loves every minute of it. His wife, Laura, and 5 kids have also all trained in the martial arts.


Sensei Sawyer began his Isshin-Ryu Karate training in the late 1970’s under Master Joseph Jennings. In 1981 he became a manager at one of Master Jennings dojos. Sensei Sawyer became owner of that dojo in 1982 when Master Jennings sold the school and moved to California to begin Panther Productions – which became one of the largest martial arts video production companies in the world.


Sensei Sawyer had the honor to help Master Jennings with the filming of the Isshin-Ryu Training videos featuring Grandmaster Angi Uezu. He is also featured in many other self-defense and karate training videos produced by Panther Productions.

Sensei Curt Sawyer

In his over 30 years of martial arts training, Sensei Sawyer has competed and trained in Okinawa, Japan four times. He has also competed in many tournaments across the country.


In addition to training extensively in Isshin-Ryu Karate, Sensei Sawyer has been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for over 15 years. He has trained with members of the Gracie family including Rickson, Royce, Renzo, and Ralph. He has competed in the East Coast Gracie Championships and has been tested by Rickson Gracie.


In 1994, with much hard work and dedication, Sensei Sawyer purchased 2.5 acres of land and built a brand new 8,100 square foot dojo. He currently employs 12 instructors and has over 300 students. With the new, much larger dojo, came new martial arts programs and a fitness center. Samurai Martial Arts now offers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kendo, Wing Chun Kung Fu, Cardio Kickboxing, Pilates, and Women’s Self-Defense – along with traditional Isshin-Ryu Karate.


Sensei Sawyer feels he has a responsibility to pass on the knowledge that was given to him by Grandmaster Angi Uezu and Master Joseph Jennings. He is honored to have to opportunity to do so through his dojo and the International Isshin-Ryu Karate Federation.