About Us About Us

Who we are, What we do, Why we do it.

Short version (188 words)


Martial arts professional, Sal Musco


Sal Musco’s martial arts journey began in 1974. Back then, “everybody was Kung Fu fighting” and there were still people around who actually hadn’t yet heard of Bruce Lee.


At age 26, Sal enrolled in one of the newly emerging karate schools hoping to learn a few moves and maybe gain some self-confidence. He hadn’t planned on changing his life. Then again, neither had he expected the rare, honest-to-goodness karate sensei he encountered.


Today, Sal is Head Instructor of East Morris Karate Academy where he shares with his own students how to best employ the Martial Art and the Martial Way for personal success. In fact, he’s also taken his chosen career to another level with a totally new concept, the Martial Solutions Project.

As a professional speaker, writer and consultant, Sal’s shows mainstream audiences and clients how they too can apply martial concepts, strategy, culture and abilities to improve their business and personal situations. MSP offers a practical twist on self-defense with bottom line implications.


Sal lives in Rockaway, NJ – just 10 miles, and half a lifetime, from where his journey began.



Long version (588 words)


Martial arts professional, Sal Musco


Sal Musco’s martial arts journey began in 1974. Back then, “everybody was Kung Fu fighting” and there were still people around who actually hadn’t yet heard of Bruce Lee.


At age 26, Sal enrolled in one of the newly emerging karate schools. He’d put it off for family and career and now hoped to finally fulfill a childhood desire – learn some self-defense and maybe gain a little self-confidence. Sal hadn’t planned on changing his whole life. Then again, neither had he expected the rare, honest-to-goodness karate sensei he encountered.


During the next 10 years, Sal grew from an enthusiastic karate student into a dedicated student teacher. He competed regularly in local area tournaments with good success in forms competition, and also developed a reputation as “the old man” among the 18 year olds in the sparring divisions. According to Sal, “Youth and vigor can always be overcome by trickery and deceit. Old tigers don’t get to be old by accident, you know.”


Yet, Sal’s first love always remained “the stuff” beyond the punching and kicking. Time after time he witnessed his teacher change lives, sometimes with just a few words. Sal eventually began investigating martial history, culture, philosophy and strategy as he came to realize a much broader definition for the term self defense. Along the way, he also managed to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Rutgers University, but in 1984 any ambition for a 9 to 5 lifestyle vanished. With the untimely passing of his teacher, Sal understood there was only one kind of work for him now. Yet, one day his business degree would still play its part.


Today, Sal is Head Instructor of East Morris Karate Academy where he shares with his own students how to best employ the Martial Art and the Martial Way for personal success. Hundreds have benefited from applying his lessons to everything from personal issues to executive leadership development. In fact, at his student’s insistence, Sal finally took his teaching to another level by launching a totally new training concept, the Martial Solutions Project.


As a professional speaker, writer and consultant, Sal’s shows mainstream audiences and clients how they too can apply martial concepts, strategy, culture and abilities to improve their business and personal situations. MSP offers a practical twist on self-defense with bottom line implications. Sal’s audiences have included the College of Saint Elizabeth, Morris County Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners, New Jersey Education Association, and New York Tri-State Speakers Association.


Sal’s martial arts studies lead him to Okinawa on three separate occasions, not only to train with a number of prominent teachers, but to research the history and culture of the art, the island and its people. While there, he discovered many things: Karate kids, the world over, make the same mistakes in class. Okinawan chickens are as mean as junkyard dogs, and roam the streets freely. (Like anyone was really going to try and stop them!)


Karate training should be rigorous at times, but never brutal. The Okinawan people are as wonderful as you’ll find anywhere on earth. Everything you read about the purpose of martial arts is mostly true; mostly everything Americans are lead to believe about it isn’t. Okinawans give Americans nicknames so they will remember them years later. And, just like in your old neighborhood, the name is often something of an inside joke. Sal earned two.


Sal lives in Rockaway, NJ – just 10 miles, and over half a lifetime, from where his journey began.



Sal Musco



 In General


Our MISSION: Tradition, Society, Profession. To provide students with effective, traditional martial arts training; members with positive fellowship; clients with value and service, and to do this so as to be a credit to our community, our art, our calling -- and, especially, to the memory of our teachers.


Our STAFF is among the most highly trained and experienced instructor corps found anywhere. Appointment requires a 3 year formal teaching internship. Experience levels average over 12 years of personal training and 7 years of class presentation.


Our STUDENTS have an average tenure of nearly 8 years (4 times the national average.) Characteristically, they're representative of the more classic student who seeks personal attainment beyond self-defense.


Many started as children, grew up with us, and now, as adults, remain active practitioners. Others were already adults who soon also found “a home” - a place apart where their recreation became a resource in a hectic world.



The Detailed Version


Our DOJO was founded in 1981 and became a local fixture at our Route 10 address until 2000 when we moved across the street to a better facility. Through the years, we’ve trained only a little over 700 students, but produced more than 150 Black Belts and spawned 6 schools in NJ and NY.


Our PROGRAM, technically, involves practice of the Okinawan karate style, Isshin-ryu. However, what a martial arts school is, is more accurately described by it’s mission. Some are sport oriented, for some it’s exercise, and others simply to provide toddler activities or after-school care.


We offer the widely known traditional approach called budo — the perfection of one’s character through attainment of technical martial excellence coupled with philosophical understanding. In other words, we study the martial arts to become people living better lives. (Please see Martial Arts Training .)


Our HEAD INSTRUCTOR, Salvatore Musco, became a martial arts student in 1974 and a teacher since 1979. He graduated Rutgers University, in 1980 and turned full-time martial arts professional in 1986. In his case, “full-time” means even more than operating our school and serving as a co-director of American Budo Kai, the association of schools he help found. Mr. Musco also actively promotes improvement of martial arts instruction. (Please see Professional Leadership .)


Toward that end, he has traveled several times to Okinawa, not only to train with a number of preeminent teachers, but to research the history and culture of the art, the island and its people. He’s also a professional writer, speaker and teacher presenting practical applications for martial arts knowledge and techniques to mainstream audiences. (Please see Other Services .)


Our TEACHING STAFF follows the traditional model of volunteer, dojo certified senior students, and is the pride of our operation. Few karate school owners can claim either such specialized training or experience level. Yet, if karate students are special than their instructors must be even more so. Only one in three have survived the rigorous professional standards we set and maintain.


Our STUDENTS are the reason for that intensity. As a group, they seek a really worthwhile result, but one requiring more teaching expertise and operational professionalism than is easily found.


Who are our students? They’re not sportsmen though some are athletic. They’re not weak though some came to us looking for answers. They are, instead, eminently normal boys, girls, men and women who appreciate a martial arts approach that produces strength from weakness; greatness from strength. They’re people looking for an enjoyable, but also meaningful experience.


The Really Detailed Version


At this modern day point in martial arts history, it’s important we keep a clear perspective. When you hear of traditional martial arts, the term should mean more than just doing the old forms and wearing plain white uniforms.


Traditional students are students of warriorship, and for warriors, concepts like duty, honor, country are like the very air they breath. Family is at the heart of all that. And it’s with this in mind that we think a  short look at our karate family history will go a long way in introducing ourselves.


It’s said, “To know the father; observe the son.”  We think, among good sons and daughters, it works both ways.


Our story begins with...


Chotoku Kyan (1870-1945) Prolific Okinawan teacher who believed that self-discipline and social stability go hand in hand, student of... “Bushi” Matsumura (1796– 1893) First master to name a style after an ideal instead of himself, student of... “Karate” Sakugawa (1733-1815) First teacher and master of the martial arts style that was to become true Okinawan and Japanese karate, student of... Kusanku (circa 1781) Legendary figure who links all karate back to its Chinese roots.


Tatsuo Shimabuku ( 1908-1975) *Student of Chotoku Kyan and founder of Isshin-ryu Karate. (*Also Chojun Miyagi and Taira Shinken not outlined here.)


Don Nagle (1938 -1999) U.S. Marine stationed on Okinawa (circa 1955) and student of Tatsuo Shimabuku he became an Eastern U.S. karate pioneer. He established his dojo in Jersey City, NJ. Where he taught his brother David Nagle and long time student Joel Bucholtz.

A. J. Advincula (1938- ) Okinawa stationed U. S. Marine (circa 1960-70) and student of Tatsuo Shimabuku. California based teacher of nationwide martial arts seminars. Became the American Budo Kai technical/historical advisor in 1990.


Dale A. Jenkins (1946-1984) Student of Don Nagle, David Nagle and Joel Bucholtz. Established his dojo in Kenvil, NJ. Founded the Jersey Judo Karate Kai (association).


Salvatore Musco (1947- ) Student of Mr. D. A. Jenkins. Entered training in 1974, and eventually became a dojo senior instructor. He also attain some repute as tournament competitor. In 1981, Mr. Jenkins invited him to establish his own dojo, the East Morris Karate Academy, in Whippany, NJ. (Please see Martial Arts Training .)


Shortly after their sensei’s passing, Sal. Musco, along with George Calvert and Joan Felenczak, reorganized remnants of the old association into the new American Budo Kai. At that time, they became full-time professional instructors, as well. (Please see Professional Leadership .)


Sal Musco was also instrumental in establishing ground-breaking new initiatives including the formal Future Instructor Special Training Program and KAIDO, the American Budo Kai association newsletter. Recently, he created the Martial Solutions Project a client service branch in which offers mainstream applications of martial arts strategy, wisdom, and culture.

The Staff

Our instructors are selected exclusively from among senior EMKA students who demonstrate the desire and aptitude for advanced studies as “students of teaching.” As such, their training program expands to include initiation into other aspects of dojo operations including administration, operation, and leadership.


Staff membership isn’t automatic, but by appointment offered only to candidates made eligible through successful completion of our formal three year internship program.  (See Instructorship below.) Other requirements include:

  • Minimum age of 18 years.
  • Minimum rank of Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) awarded by an American Budo Kai association member school.
  • Adherence to strict professional standards for performance and conduct.
  • Maintenance of individual competence as a practitioner.
  • Participation in the EMKA continuing professional development program. (Instructors are expected to one day grow into teachers – which we consider separate concepts).
The Students

Enrollment and Divisions

We accept students at age 5 and all adults. Our basic enrollment is contractual and annual. Although we also offer certain special situation enrollments, we do not engage in long term "Black Belt Club" type obligations.


Our classes are co-educational and divided according to age into a Junior, Teenage, and Senior Division.  All students are considered to be on the Black Belt track, and so are taught the same curriculum, in full. However, intensity, depth, and expectations are adjusted for appropriateness.


Rank Structure

We follow the standard Japanese 7 Kyu (under Black) grading system, but use minor modifications to allow for the longer developmental curve of younger students.


Our minimum age for the rank of Shodan is the traditional 16 years. However, students who begin very young may, at age 13, qualify for the technical rank (borrowed from the Judo tradition) of Junior Black Belt. Conversion to Shodan isn't automatic, but requires attainment of maturity not expected from them as adolescents.


Of all questions about rank, the most telling is the criteria use for awarding Black Belt. First off, people should be very clear on this point: All rank is only valid within the organization that grants it. Every instructor can, and usually does, award rank as they see fit. Only the integrity of that instructor gives it value, or merit for outside recognition. As teaching standards become ever more diverse, universal rank recognition becomes ever less possible.


Secondly, there are two basic approaches to the central issue itself. To the extent an instructor subscribes to one or the other, ultimately determines everything (literally) about their school – from what and how they teach to the way they run the business. In absolute terms, one view holds that the Black Belt is symbolic of achievement through performance; the other, of what someone becomes as a person. The 6 year old Black Belt and the traditional Iaido Yudansha (Black Belt level swordsman) are each the product of differing conceptual allegiances.


We follow the second, traditional, view which equates Black Belt attainment akin to a rite of passage. This definition supports and is supported by our budo mission.


The Curriculum


Before discussing what we teach, it’s important to address why we teach in the first place. In fact, an instructor’s perceived purpose for teaching has a greater impact on what students come away with than does the particular art or style that’s offered.


Sport, recreation and exercise are the most common focuses found in today’s martial arts schools. (Actual self-defense comes in a distant fourth in popularity!) Yet, our Budo focus is the older, and actually more generally accepted approach, although it’s one who’s name is equally little known.

Simply put, Budo involves the use of intense an training experience coupled with philosophic principles to produce a third effect, perfection of character. However, to truly be Budo, both training and principles must specifically be martial in nature. (In other words, athletics mixed with New Age psycho-babble doesn’t count.)


Ever since The Karate Kid movies, character development has became so closely associated with the martial arts, it's now often mistakenly thought to be inherent to the training itself. It isn't. Budo is neither accidental nor a given side-effect. Budo requires unique teaching skills and student commitment beyond what's necessary for simple competence or even proficiency.


Why bother? The samurai, with rare exception, believed that, when evenly matched, spiritual superiority alone determined life for one opponent and death to the other. And defeat can take many forms. In today's world, how often are lives made or broken, not as matters of talent or resource, but of character? Equally, isn't character the single most cited element as essential to success?


In short, Budo training is never easy, rarely glorious, often uncomfortable, and always worth the effort. 


Isshin-ryu Karate (entry level)

This Okinawan style is the centerpiece of our training. Although perhaps not as renown as others, Isshin-ryu is actually one of the more commonly practiced styles in America.


Simple, practical and highly effective, it's as well suited for personal defense as it is for tactical application by professionals (law enforcement, security, military, etc.) Free of acrobatic technique, it’s also excellent for young and old; athletically gifted or otherwise.


Traditional Weaponry (advanced)

We offer Okinawan bo, sai, nunchaku, tuifa, and Philippine escrima as an extension of empty-hand training. Our course is authentic and combat oriented. We do not teach young children.


Traditional weapons, while themselves archaic, offer two advantages for modern students.


First, they are characteristically akin to common items (broom, rake, shovel, tire chain, hammer, pipe, etc.) that, if wielded in the same manner, can defend as effectively.


Secondly, even such rustic weapons as ours provide advanced, yet primarily "empty-hand", practitioners with an opportunity to touch upon the legendary lessons of classical weapons such as the sword.


Instructorship (by appointment)

"There are no better styles; only better men." (And, of course, women!) As that old saying also implies, it’s the teacher, not the art, who embodies either the best - or worst - in martial training.


Not very long ago most Americans considered every Black Belt capable of teaching. Times have changed, but not by much. Until they do, we’ve chosen to set high standards for ourselves; based not on convenience or advantage, but on the teaching mission as most people understand it. Toward that end, EMKA offers two formal programs: Intern training and continuing instructor development. Our certification isn't for everyone; neither is maintaining it: Only one in three have been successful over time.


The terms "diploma" and "certification" are very often confused - especially in our industry. (It should also be remembered that both are, by definition, only valid within the organization that grants them.) An individual’s rank diploma can attest only to what they once accomplished or were capable - not what they're currently doing. Certifications, to varying degree, serve that purpose. However, any certification without some mechanism for oversight is more than misleading – in some fields (medicine, engineering, etc.), it’s potentially dangerous.


We believe martial arts instruction is one of those special fields. Instructors should be taught how to teach; certified to operate; and accountable to someone, other than themselves, who is knowledgeable concerning competence and proper conduct. Regurgitated personal experience and specious diplomas don’t make a teacher any more than self-righteous assertions of "artistic sovereignty" assure professional responsibility from school owners.


We also understand the dangers that position poses for instructors themselves. For those readers who may be also be colleagues, please consider this:


What the public is incapable of doing for themselves in the marketplace… and industry is unwilling to do for the public at the conference table… government is known to inevitably do in the legislature.


Every industry is regulated in some way by some "one". The smart "ones" take the high ground – first. It seems obvious, ours hasn't.





A new beginning…


The East Morris Karate Academy is a traditional karate dojo established in 1981 during the infancy of the martial arts industry. Like most commercial schools back then, for lack of any more suitable business model to follow, we began as a small business.


And that came with a problem: Contradictions.


Today, many martial arts schools are now evolved into little more than retail operations; run by those who are more shopkeeper than teacher. What's worse is that the public is widely beginning to accept that as normal. In a way it is. After all, the underlying mission of any business, by definition, is making profit.


For us, however, the word dojo stands for a view of martial arts training that never did sit very well with words like profit. The head of a dojo is someone often called a sensei - a term that definitely does not conjure images of entrepreneur.


There's nothing wrong with making a good living teaching karate. In fact, we promote the idea of teaching as a profession. Yet, that doesn't mean letting the tail wag the dog. Money should never be the main point of any profession.


So how do you go about properly translating a several hundred year old Asian tradition into a dynamic 21st century American business? Our head instructor, Sal Musco, wrestled with this problem for nearly 30 years until he found/realized/accepted the answer: You don’t.


That’s why East Morris Karate Academy converted itself from a business, and became the student training program of...



Martial Promise, a nonprofit corporation created to free us from the commercial mission in order to focus on our intended one: The preservation and promotion of the traditional budo purpose - preparing practitioners to defend and excel. Martial Promise's objective is to educate consumers, colleagues and the public about the tremendous potential of proper matial arts training. (This website is one effort toward that end.)


Mr. Musco, as EMKA Head Instructor, is still a career professional, but, as he says, "My business is karate; karate isn't my business."  He also conducts our other related, but pioneer program called the...



Martial Solutions Project that offers businesses and others martial arts wisdom for non-martial issues. Seminars, workshops and consultations are just a few of the ways in which MSP addresses just about any topic. The offerings aren't just superficial recitals of oriental sayings, but lessons presented with the same teaching focus to audiences as to our dojo students.



While the conversion is transparent to our students' training experience, it has settled many issues and removed many roadblocks to the success of our dojo mission. Including this one: The dojo will live on for as long as its members want this amazing sanctuary we call home.


To our knowledge (based on internet research), Martial Promise, Inc is also a first of its kind - a federally recognized martial arts school.





Some people are just lucky I guess. If my karate teacher was the most truly amazing person I ever met, Alan Weiss is certainly a contender for close second. Although he wouldn’t remember me, I’ll surely never forget meeting him. You shouldn’t either, and here’s why.


Mr. Weiss is a business consultant, who among his other formidable attributes, is known for two unique accomplishments. He single-handedly once earned a million dollars in one year, and he has a truly unique approach to serving a client. The first is an indication of how well the second must work, and the second leads to a really interesting explanation.


So, what game are you in?


Ask someone what they do and they’ll tell you. And, should they suspect you of being a sales prospect, quite often, ad nauseam. Ask Alan and he won’t say. Period. He’ll instead insist on asking what you do; what you want; and what’s the hitch in your get-a-long. Only then does he describe himself - in terms of how he might advantage your situation.


Obvious, right? Well, apparently not. It seems there’s an entire industry of professional speakers, trainers, writers, consultants, etc. who go nuts trying to surgically define themselves (in 25 words or less, please) on the off chance they meet a prospect in an elevator. For the longest time, I wanted to do that too, but couldn’t quite put my finger on how to most effectively explain my Martial Solutions Project. And then, as they say, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear.”


It’s a Zen thing

Alan Weiss appeared before the New York Tri-state Speakers Association and his take on the subject reminded me of something I already knew so well as a martial artist: When someone asks, “What would you do if you were attacked”, the only truly right answer is, “I don’t know.”


That’s what martial arts training is all about — not mastering a set of static responses, but becoming "response able" to fluid situations. And that’s what MSP is as well. It’s a Zen thing: MSP doesn’t come into being until you ask it to do something. And, for over 30 years, my students have asked me about almost everything you could imagine.


Italian artist for hire: Portraits, murals, sculptures. Chapel ceilings a specialty.

So this section really is all about you. Later, I’ll list some things I’ve done for others, but only by way of example. However, the things I do are only colors in my palette; my area of expertise, only the style I follow. What picture I paint depends on what wall you want to hang it on.


I speak, write, and teach. I’ve worked with business people, executives, educators, high school students, college students, women’s clubs, profession associations and, yes, even a karate school or two. I make people laugh, cry, think, get angry, and get moving. (At times. even on purpose.) I change lives, perspectives, and motivations. I arm leaders with strategies and tactics, and followers with a sense of unity, pride, and mission.


Question is, what do you do?



Here are some example presentations as promised:


Professionalism: Turning Concept Into Winning Strategy  

Every business should be business-like; only some should be “professional”! Learn the nature of yours and how to use professionalism as a powerful tool; not just a catch phrase.

· The three basic ways organizations operate that few consider well enough.

· Creating organizational harmony — and competitive havoc.


The Art of War for Workday Warriors: Secrets of Waging Success

Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, became a legend for writing this book. Learn how others become legendary using it. We begin with ten secrets from Chapter 1.

· How to assess future success

· Leadership in a nutshell


Martial Culture Series

The martial arts field owes much to not only the great classical Asian works and traditions, but also to great Western leaders and thinkers. These are my most recent overview presentations:

· The Art of War

· Tao Teh Ching


Road Warriors Guide to Hotel and Travel Safety

Ever left an airport at midnight wishing you’d brought a bodyguard? You did.

· Planning and executing secure travel and lodging

· Techniques for becoming a more ‘hardened’ target


Outstanding Street Smarts for Incoming Freshman

On their own for the first time, students need more than safety tips. They need attitude, perspective and a bit of ‘cold reality’ us old-timers often learned the hard way.

· How to assess the situation.

· Great tips to get you started and how to create your own.


Self-Defense That Isn’t Dumb

(Workshop — Non-embarrassing participation; business attire is acceptable!)   For those who either missed the street smarts seminars or get really unlucky in their travel assignments. Usually, such courses are as useful as an unloaded gun. This one won’t insult your intelligence — or get you killed.

· How to always be stronger than your assailant.

· Blocks, escapes and counterstrikes anyone can do… effectively… without training.


A few clients...

College of Saint Elizabeth

Morris County Chamber of Commerce

New Jersey Association of Women Business Owners

New Jersey Education Association

New Paltz Karate Academy

New York Tri-State Speakers Association



What they say…

“… you interacted on a supreme level… You are passionate about your message and it comes through loud and clear.”

Maria Aprile, CPA,CFE

NJ Assoc. of Women Business Owners