Master Lisa S. Amsell PDF Print E-mail
ImageMaster Lisa S. Amsell grew up with the martial arts playing a major role in her life. Her father, Master Amsell, was already a 2nd Degree Black Belt with an extensive background when she was born. From an early age, she traveled to several tournaments with her father on the west coast. Lisa was often bored because she was too young to be involved in the martial arts at the time. Lisa looked at martial arts as something fun because of the uniform and belt and even had her own uniform at 3 years of age before she was even in the martial arts.

Lisa's older sister, Lynda SBN, started her training when she was about 6 years old with Grandmaster Chan-Yong Kim at the Oriental Moo-Do School (OMS) in Artesia, CA. Lisa pretended to be in martial arts with her and would sometimes come with her father to class. She would enter class, but once she got bored, she would leave. Over the years, Lisa got less interested in the martial arts and Lynda continued because of the condition that she had to train until reaching Black Belt before she could quit. Lynda received her Black Belt in 1985 and on February 18, 1986 Lisa rejoined the OMS, however, this time it was because her father felt the training would help her do better in school. Lisa also had the same condition as Lynda, she could quit upon reaching Black Belt. Lisa was very unhappy to be joining the martial arts class without any choice. She starting learning Taekwondo and Yudo at OMS. She also had her first testing there and successfully earned the rank of 9th Kub, White/Yellow belt. Unfortunately for her, Yellow Belt testing was not as easy. The way the OMS was structured testing was a different examiner for each topic. Lisa drew her father, Master Amsell, as the poom-seh examiner. She was to perform Kicho 1. She did not know it, no one in her group knew it either. Master Amsell was not happy with their lack of knowledge and informed her group they were getting a "zero" in poom-seh. Lisa did not believe he would actually do that until Grandmaster Kim questioned her on the "zero." Grandmaster Kim made a "deal" that if Lisa could learn Kicho 1-3 by the following week, she could keep her belt. With the help of Lynda, she learned them and kept her belt. 

Side Kick - 1996
In 1987, Grandmaster Kim's son, Master Jimmy Kim and Master Amsell started a class at the North Orange County YMCA in Fullerton, CA. Lisa would often go to two classes a day. As time went on, Master Kim needed to focus more time on reaching the Olympics in 1988 and he had to abandon the YMCA classes. Master Amsell felt committed to those at the YMCA and continued their training. At this point, the YMCA class was now known as the American Moo-Do Kwan (AMK). Lisa's training broadened to include Hapkido and Kendo which she learned from her father. Lisa wanted to quit everyday and often expressed that to her father, but had to continue. Also in that year, Lisa competed in her first tournament and was quite unaware of the rules and lost the match. Shortly after the class moved to the YMCA, Lynda quit because she made he goal of obtaining Black Belt and due to the fact that the YMCA class featured adults only, Lisa felt alone and uninspired without anyone in her own age group. At times she found the class tolerable, but overall, her focus was to reach Black Belt and then quit like her sister.

Around mid 1988, her father started a children's class on Saturday which started out as a babysitting class for women who were enrolled in the Women's Self-Defense Class (WSDC). This class grew far larger than the adult class and Lisa felt a bit more comfortable with people in her age range. Overall though, Lisa found the martial arts training as difficult and frustrating. She also did not take the time to learn the material and her test scores proved that was the case.

Lisa finally had her major accomplishment on December 14, 1991 when she tested for her 1st Poom Black Belt along with three other students (Nila Welker, Marcus A. Krieter, and Joseph Ok). These four students were the first Black Belts produced by the AMK. Lisa was a little more motivated than previously, but as one examiner stated on her test form, "something was missing."

ImageA little over a year later in 1993, news was received that training was going to move from the YMCA to the new AMK headquarters located in Anaheim, CA. By this time, the other three Black Belts discontinued their training for varies reasons. Lisa took on the burden of teaching most of the classes. She was not prepared for this and during her previous years at the YMCA she did not take her training very seriously and now had to teach others. Fortunately for her, another instructor filled in to teach a few hours a day, while she had the later classes, and her father worked hard on making the new school run. It wasn't very long though before Lisa found herself abruptly thrown into teaching four hours a day, six days a week due to the other instructor becoming disgruntled and left the AMK with only one instructor besides Master Amsell. This hit Lisa hard because for the most part, she had no one to assist her teach because her father was working hard on finances for the studio. By the end of 1993, Lisa weathered the storm and started to not only sincerely enjoy the martial arts, but enjoy teaching as well. She spent most of her spare time researching and learning the finer aspects of the martial arts. In December, 1993, she tested for 2nd Degree Black Belt and was encouraged by one of the first Black Belts, Joseph Ok and his brother John Ok and her original instructor, Grandmaster Kim, was on her test board as well. At this testing, Lisa did her only brick break to date and was successful.

Lisa continued her serious training and around mid 1994, the AMK welcomed a new instructor, Sensei Rodrigo Carrasco, to teach Judo/Jujitsu and Aikido. Lisa took immediate interest in these arts after already thoroughly enjoying the basic Judo training she previously had. She learned as much as she could from Rod and guest instructors he introduced to her as well. Due to the deterioration of the neighborhood in Anaheim, the AMK moved to Lisa's hometown of La Habra in early 1995.

Lisa started getting more assistance in teaching now from her cousin Jason Nguyen SBN who was now close to Black Belt. In December 1995, Lisa tested for her 3rd Degree Black Belt and had another former student, Linda Tsai, come to support her testing. Sad news came in 1996 when the school was unable to continue and had to close it's doors. Lisa and her father worked to find another location for students who wanted to continue training. It came at a health club down the street, but unfortunately, it didn't work out. The only bright spot at this location was that the La Habra Star newspaper wanted to do a feature article on Lisa. A few months later, the AMK left the health club. Lisa encouraged Master Amsell to try it's roots. Training once again resumed around the end of 1996 where it began: back at the YMCA. Training continued there for a little over a year before Master Amsell's new employment made it more and more difficult to continue that class.

Pretending to be a Yellow Belt
The training ceased at this time, but her father was able to restart the training at his company, much like in the beginning with the HP Moo-Do Club and classes resumed in 1999. Lisa once again was ready for the training and after about a year, the training also continued at the nearby community center in La Palma. The class started without any students and slowly built up. Jason returned to training after a brief hiatus and the first employee's club Black Belt was achieved by Terry L. Owens.

Lisa continued the training from the previous years and continued teaching the Judo/Jujitsu and Aikido fundamentals she learned from Sensei Carrasco. To enhance that aspect, Lisa also took a college course in Aikido to fine tune her skills. In December 2002, Lisa finally tested for the first time in 7 years for 4th Degree Black Belt. She accomplished her 5th Degree Black Belt in December 2006.

Today, Lisa has continued to train inside and outside of class and works side by side with her father to improve the training and skills of their students. Lisa is very active in all aspects of the training curriculum and even helps students in her spare time on any questions they may have. Lisa never questions traveling to help out fellow martial arts colleagues and welcomes it. She has also made the class more interactive with taking on the planning of activities for the students to participate in as well as printing all necessary supplies for students. She is still seeing all the benefits the martial arts has to offer and feels, in turn, she also has a lot to offer to present and future students. She feels that with all that she has done, she can still do more and is readily available for assistance. Lisa feels very fortunate that her father forced her to join the martial arts class at such an early age and started her on the path that she continues to walk today.

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