Danie M. Huffman
In American Karate, there’s one name that sticks out above the crowd. The inventor, grand master and father of the sport is J. Pat Burleson.
Bob Nuttall, local lead instructor and owner of the Karate University, said he is overwhelmed Burleson is coming locally to instruct with him.
The executive director of World Martial Arts Ranking Association is Nuttall’s mentor, instructor and friend. Burleson was born in Weatherford, but has traveled the globe sharing his love and perfecting his form of martial arts.
“There are people all over the world who would love to have Mr. Burleson as their instructor,” Nuttall said. “This is really something wonderful.”
He added Burleson comes with accomplishments and qualifications too lengthy to list.
The highlights begin in 1957, when Burleson boxed in the Navy Special Forces while he was stationed in Japan. He said Karate was a Japanese family secret passed down to generations and was not taught to foreigners, much less caucasians or women. Burleson was fascinated with the art once he saw it during a demonstration.
“I felt good as a boxer in defending myself,” Burleson said, who won championships in the sport. “But this was challenging and there was skill in learning it. I’ve been in love with it ever since.”
He added those skilled in the art of Korean Tae Kwon Do use 90 percent of their feet and 10 percent of their hands in the sport. Japanese Kempo artists use 70 percent of their hands with 30 percent of their feet.
When Burleson invented American Karate, he desired an equivalent use of his limbs, using a 50/50 technique, bringing the form to men and women alike.
“There is equal balance in using the hands and feet,” he said.
He brought the art to the states, where he opened and ran various schools teaching his art for almost 30 years.
Due to his abilities, Burleson made appearances in numerous films including Firewalker, Lone Wolf McQuade, Sidekicks and semi-regular appearances on Walker Texas Ranger with his friend, Chuck Norris.
He developed combat training programs for local, state and federal government agencies, produced martial arts videos and was inducted into Who’s Who of American Martial Arts, the Encyclopedia of Martial Arts and the Texas Hall of Fame as a martial arts pioneer.
Nuttall, a life-long student of Burleson’s, said it is beyond a privilege to have him settle and work locally.
“There is only one sensei and only one grand master,” Nuttall said. “Mr. Burleson is it.”
American Airlines hired Burleson after 9-11 to instruct flight crews who were scared to return to work.
In Louisiana, Burleson personally trained the United flight attendant who found the shoe bomber and dove across four rows of seats to grab the culprit.
He went on to be a keynote speaker at seminars and major corporations.
Nuttall said he had been offering Burleson a chance to instruct at his school for decades.
“He finally wore me down,” Burleson said chuckling.
He added Nuttall has a unique way of talking and interacting with children. He chose to accept the offer because he loves the curriculum Nuttall designed geared toward youngsters.
“He shows them object lessons with martial arts and teaches them respect,” Burleson said. “The class is his pet project. I’m impressed with his integrity and work.”
Nuttall said he feels equally respectful of Burleson, whom he refers to as ‘mister,’ each time he addresses him, even after knowing and working with him for decades. He added he loves teaching and although he has been the lead instructor for years, he gladly relinquishes the top spot to his Karate father.
“He’s the grand master,” he said. “I know my place.”
The duo share a fondness for teaching adults who want to learn, and for children who are being educated on life lessons and values.
Burleson will be teaching an adult martial arts class for white to black belts on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Karate University on the south service road of Interstate 20 at Tin Top Road.
Danie M. Huffman