Sensei Art McConnell

2012 picture of Sensei Art McConnell

Reflections of My Life

Lou Correa grew up in Queens, was an active altar boy in the Catholic Church and graduated from Westinghouse High School. In 1967 he joined the United States Air Force and served as a mechanic in Vietnam.

He opened his first dojo in Oakland, CA, in 1970. His gift of teaching Shotokan inspired many before he moved to Long Island to open a Samurai Dojo there. Sensei Correa enjoyed horseback riding, sailing and hobby trains.

Reflections of My Life

By Lou Correa

My life most certainly has been one hell of a TRIP. Pushing 65 years, I have been reflecting on my experiences of the years gone by. A true story but hard to believe.  I was born in Rockaway Beach during a full moon on September 1945 at 3:00pm. My great grandfather owned a barbershop in Harlem, it was a lucrative enterprise I was told as he was Enrico Caruso’s personal barber. His love of opera caused him to name his children Aida, Celia and Enrico.

I was raised by my nana, my biological father divorced my mom when I was about three or four. I have vague memories of him. Mom’s side of the family wanted nothing to do with my biological relatives, me being the outlaw that I am, I wanted to know the Spanish side of my heritage. My mother remarried when I was nine to a man I loved dearly, he married my mom who had two kids, God bless him. She passed away at the age of 85, still my Popas (as I refer to him) is still kicking in his early 90’s. If I could have chosen a father it would be him. Popas was a blue collar worker, a mechanic. He was a good provider, we never wanted for anything.

From an obscure blue collar background to international recognition as a superstar in Japanese Martial Arts to sailing the seas of three oceans to handling Lipson stallions from Woodstock to Berzorkey. These are roads I have travelled, including hopping the islands of the Pacific to visiting Vietnam, Okinawa, Philippines, Guam, Wake, Midway Islands, Thailand and Tijuana Mexico. ‘Life is but a dream within a dream, yesterday is gone but tomorrow is blind.”

I lived one day at a time!!




There are many openings for opportunities in life. Some are obvious and some, more subtle.  But, in fact, some become something much, much more.

I met Lou Correa (Sensei) on a warm day in 1984, with a friend who became one of his 1st L.I. black belts, Joey Lolis. We took a ride to one of Rocky Point’s local beaches and began ranting about martial arts.

I had minimal training in Judo from the Cross Island YMCA, in Hollis Queens and had become obsessed with Asian arts and cultures (with a lot of inspiration from the Shaw Bros & Akira Kurosawa ~We miss you Mifune Sensei!) With this, Correa Sensei had me, like clay to a sculptor.

I asked a lot of layman’s questions, which he readily answered with added details.   Months pass…

I saved enough scratch with a gas station job, and I ventured up to 25A in Rocky Point to Samurai Dojo. As I got closer to the school I could hear screaming, then what sounded like someone falling down a flight of stairs. I crept up to peek through a window to witness two young men, in what seemed like a heated battle: a purple belt, trapped in a corner, and a brown belt pummeling over him. This was Bruce Huntsacker.

I looked at Sensei to see if he would put a stop to the massacre, but he only moved around to gain better vantage points.  I crept away from the window, and walked back home thinking “Are you sure you know what you’re getting yourself in for?” I returned a week later and have been “living in the ways” ever since.

I am a member of Samurai Dojo. It was here I became an instructor in years to come, until I was called by the west coast and training in various other martial arts.

To anyone who cares, I’ve never found a better karate instructor who could match the level of intense martial arts instruction Lou Correa possessed and provided to me. Granted, our personal relationship was rough at times (to say the least), but I always held my Sensei as my “very difficult father” and loved him as such. His charismatic personality and genuine love for all martial arts, is a continuous inspiration for me to this day – even in death he leads me on new paths which are, in reality, old paths which were laid for me long ago.

I met Art McConnell  (formally) at Correa Sensei’s memorial service last year. I have been a deshi of Tozai Iai-Kai ever since.

Once again, Correa Sensei,

Domo Arigato Gozaimasu!

From the bottom of my heart.


Class Photo

Sunday Morning Iaido Class at Empire State Dojo

January Celebration Announced

Special announcement…
“Kagami Biraki Celebration”

Celebration at Tozai Sword School at Empire State Dojo.
Mid January, Mid Afternoon for Middle Level Students.

Kagami Biraki is a traditional celebration in which we rededicate ourselves to our practice.

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