Edmund “Mr. Z” Szelap’s passion for the Martial Arts began in the 1970s. He was fortunate to train with the notable Masters White, Adams, Melton, Pittaway, Santilli, Woods, Kersey, Pogue, Sandubrae, Bartley, Advincula, Harrill, Armstrong, and Cavalla. Mentioning these men is important, because as Mr. Z. says, “You must honor your roots. These men helped me become the martial artist I am.”
He earned the title: “Certified Instructor of Martial Arts” from the world-renowned Cooper’s Institute, certifications by Grand Masters Angi Uezu and Kichiro Shimabuku, and Renchi status from Fusei Kise’s organization, Grand Master of Shorinryu, through Master Thomas Edwards. He also studied and taught Tang Soo Do, Taekwondo, Tai Chi Combat, Krav Maga, Kung Fu, and Japanese Sword.
Since opening his dojo in 1992, Mr. Z has received countless IHOF Awards, including Male Instructor, Sensei of Senseis, Outstanding Contribution, and Spirit of Isshinryu; most importantly having his dojo, Family Self Defense Center, nominated for Top Isshinryu Dojo for 10 years. His students have amassed hundreds of awards and thousands of tournament wins while always demonstrating good sportsmanship and respect.
Throughout the school’s 25 years, Mr. Z has promoted hundreds of Black Belts, currently with 28 actively training and teaching Black Belts ranging in age from 11 to 68. Four of his Black Belts have opened their own satellite schools. Mr. Z developed methods to teach “anyone” no matter the physical capabilities or age. His five movement forms, three bunkai trees, and two-person fighting katas have helped achieve this. As a Sensei, he believes his duty is to lead by example and live an honorable life. His school tells the story of a great Instructor, competitive students, and supportive parents. This IS Isshinryu!
Mr. Z, a 7th Dan, teaches 6 days a week, alongside his wife, Ms. Chris, a 6th Dan. He is the father of 3 grown children. In their free time, Chris and Mr. Z enjoy their 3 Classic Cars. His message is simply “Your personal best is always a win. Be respected WITHOUT ego. Show your ability without bragging, and of utmost importance; always show kindness in all situations first!”