I have been a student of Sensei Neil Stolsmark for 22 years. During that time I have come to know him not only as Sensei but also as a friend. His commitment to the martial arts is reflected in his adherence to the tradition of the Okinawan way of the martial arts which take precedence in his dojo. Advancement is predicated on accomplishment and improvement. Students are promoted when they demonstrate both, not because they have paid for a “black belt program”. Sensei’s students truly earn rank. Sensei is dedicated to the idea that physical, psychological, and spiritual aspects of the martial arts have value for everyone and that natural talent is only a small component of ultimate success. He leads by example. No one in his dojo works harder or more consistently than he does.He demonstrates and teaches the time honored martial arts virtues of honor, integrity, duty, humility, discipline, and courage. Those students who seek him out, or perhaps accidentally, discover him as a teacher are truly fortunate. The wise students recognize what he brings to the dojo each time he teaches. One only needs to look at the large number of active black belts who have been training with him for 20, 25, 30, or more years; they understand this, and that is the true testament of what Sensei Stolsmark contributes to the martial art.
Sensei Bill Martin, 5th Dan Owner/Chief Instructor Authentic Ancient Arts Burnsville, MN & Hudson, WI
Neil Stolsmark-sensei has been teaching martial arts since early adulthood, an endeavor to which he has dedicated his life. He possesses certain innate qualities that are lacking in many instructors: humility, patience, empathy, a sense of humor, a positive outlook, and a profound passion and love for what he does that is wildly infectious. Stolsmark-sensei is endowed with the ability to communicate remarkably well with his students, both verbally and through demonstration; he never fails to enrapture them with insights and a deep understanding of the arts that he knows so well. Whether reviewing the most basic of kihon or teaching the most complex of kata, one is struck by his sense of wonder and fun, and by his ability to make everything seem fresh and exciting. Stolsmark-sensei exhibits another attribute rarely seen in most martial arts instructors: although he has earned the rank of 8th dan in two disparate arts, and has acquired accolades almost beyond measure, he considers himself a martial arts student first and foremost. He trains harder than almost anyone, travelling many times per year to Okinawa to train with his instructors there, and working out with his students and peers at home year-round. He is not the type of teacher who stands idle while his students labor; he is out on the floor with them, pushing himself to work twice as hard as he expects anyone else to do. He is never satisfied with his own skills; he is perpetually striving to ameliorate and polish them. Stolsmark-sensei also spends large quantities of his time travelling the world giving seminars and hosting workshops. He has also hosted international karate and kobudo camps in his home State of Wisconsin for the past dozen years. His extensive expertise and selfless teaching style attract students from across the world; in addition to studying and refining one’s art, a guest of Stolsmark-sensei can’t help but have a great time, with equal parts sweat and smiles, in an environment that is bursting with positive energy, love, support, and encouragement. He treats all of his students respectfully and with honor, and thus each of them, from novice to expert instructor, feels like family.
-Sensei Noah Mitchell, 6thdan Karate, 4thdan Kobudo
Owner/Chief Instructor Mountain Stream Budo
Putnam Valley, New York
Neil Stolsmark is one of the most gifted Karate/Kobudo instructors of his generation. His knowledge and abilities have earned him the highest respect in Japan, the United States and numerous countries around the globe. He has trained for over 30 years in traditional Okinawan Martial Arts and is highly sought after for instruction in Karate and Kobudo. It is truly a special experience to train with this master instructor.
Sensei John Spence, 7thdan, Owner/Chief Instructor at Shorin-ryu Karate of Williamsburg, VA
Neil Stolsmark has an insightful, precise teaching style rarely experienced in Martial Arts training. He inspires both young and old and his enthusiasm is contagious. Neil possesses wisdom well beyond his years.
Sensei Daniel Schroeder, 9thdan Karate, 7thdan Kobudo, Owner/Chief Instructor at East-West Connection Hales Corners, Wisconsin