Bob Nuttall, founder of The Karate University in Weatherford, will be named a 10th Degree Black Belt Grandmaster — an elite designation — in a special recognition ceremony to be held Jan. 8 at the Parker County Courthouse.
The site was approved by Parker County commissioners Tuesday.
Grand Master J. Pat Burleson, a pioneer in the martial arts, told the court that the award is a lifetime achievement for Nuttall and his organization.
“There are many people who join the military and serve out long, distinguished careers, but very few 4-star generals,” he said. “This is a 4-star general award. There aren’t any more after this.”
Burleson noted Nuttall’s 40 years of service to the Weatherford community, the assistance he has provided to law enforcement officers and his commitment to rewarding his young karate students for academic achievement by treating them to free dinners.
Commissioner John Roth, who moved that the court approve the second floor of the courthouse for the evening ceremony, congratulated Nuttall, saying his daughter received her black belt at the age of 12 or 13.
“The lessons that they learn and the determination that they have going through what they go through with you makes a huge difference in their lives,” Roth said.
Nuttall, one of the first professional mixed martial arts type fighters in the U.S. — according to his website — said later that he has studied karate since the 1960s, leading to his employment as a security worker and a bodyguard.
His business, begun on North Main Street in 1972, is one of the oldest in Weatherford, he said, and is now training a third generation at its interstate location.
Karate is more about attitude and leadership than it is about kicks and punches, Nuttall said, and people are beginning to realize that.
“I think people’s respect for karate as a tool in life has gone up,” he said, “the discipline, the core values, the focus ... [students] focus on what they want and how to achieve it.”
In addition to teaching youth, Nuttall has trained city, county and state law enforcement officers, donating hundreds of hours in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, often going into the field to do so.
“I assisted them in anything they needed ... to help subdue a violent person in the jail, to back them up ... ”
The sheriff once asked him to go to a hospital emergency room to help control a violent prisoner who claimed to have been injured, he said.
“They had to take off his shackles, all the leggings and everything,” he said. “There wasn’t anything wrong with him.
“The sheriff called me because he knew he was going to fight. I was able to use some different moves.”
“You can’t shoot a person just for fighting,” he said, explaining the use of physical force rather than the threat of firearms. “You have to show them you can control the situation.”
Up until 10 years ago, Nuttall said, he would often go on patrol with the sheriff’s deputies.
“In the county there used to only be one officer at night, and he really didn’t have any backup,” he said. “There might be another officer, but he would be clear across the county. So if anything happened ...”
Nuttall said it usually takes about five years to achieve a black belt, a well-known rank that is a full nine degrees below the rank of grandmaster.
“When you get a black belt, that’s when you really start learning,” he said. “This is more about how you’ve promoted martial arts.”
Nuttall said he was one of the first to compete in full contact professional fights, events that conclude when one competitor knocks the other unconscious.
“That was a thrill,” he reminisced, adding that the fights usually ended quickly. “They’ve become a lot safer.”
Receiving the prestigious award in January is both a big privilege and a lifetime job, Nuttall said.
He said it signifies that top Grand Master Burleson, who oversees karate champions all over the world, will name Nuttall as one of his three successors.