About Sensei Zach Pizza

Sensei Pizza began training in 1994  with Sensei Lisa Schwartz (8th dan, Kyoshi) (5th dan at the time) in Washington Township, New Jersey. Sensei Larry Schwartz (8th dan, Kyoshi) later joined his wife after they merged their individual dojos together. It was a great experience to have these 2 amazing teachers.

Sensei Pizza was promoted to Shodan (1st degree black belt) in June of 2005, becoming Sensei Schwartz's first student to begin at 5 years old and go on to make an adult black belt rank. After this promotion, Sensei Pizza took on more teaching duties for Senseis Lisa and Larry, specifically after his college graduation in 2011. Sensei Pizza holds a BFA in Theater Design/Technology. (In his other life, Sensei Pizza is a freelance lighting desinger for theater and live events.)

Sensei Lisa, especially as a "small old woman" as she would regularly joke (who eventually had 2 fake hips and metal plate in her neck), really showed me that karate can be done by any type of person regardless of body size and gender, she really taught that all that mattered in the dojo was the effort you showed up with. In 2012, Sensei Lisa was promoted to 8th dan and became the highest ranking female in the style in the world. Sensei Larry inspired with his passion for karate - he could literally talk about technique for hours. His conversational approach to teaching was one of a kind.
In 2016, Sensei Pizza was promoted 4th Dan at Beikoku’s 40th Anniversary National Training Seminar (NTS) in Lansing, MI. Sensei has travelled to participate in NTS for every seminar (except 1) since 2008. Sensei Pizza and NYOK are actively involved with the Beikoku organization, travelling to Okinawa, Japan with the association to train in 2014 and 2019. 

In 2017, Senseis Lisa and Larry Schwartz closed their dojo. So, Sensei Pizza took his training to Sensei Paul Snader (8th Dan, Kyoshi) in Fair Lawn, NJ (where I still train). Sensei Snader is a very focused practitioner whose insight and command of the technique is one of a kind. In the short time I have been under Sensei Snader, he has helped me open my brain to thinking about technique in new ways.

What unites all 3 of my teachers is that they all have the same teacher, Seikichi Iha (10th Dan, Hanshi, Grandmaster). Iha Sensei is the head of the Beikoku Shidokan association. He began training in Okinawa about 70 years ago. (He turns 89 this year.) Iha took traditional Shidokan values he learned from late masters Shinpan Gusukuma and Katauya Miyahira and placed the focus on smooth and natural movement and a connection to center that we practice today. In May of 2020, Sensei Iha was honored as an "Intangible Cultural Asset Holder" by the prefecture of Okinawa, Japan.

Last updated Jan 2021

Photo courtesty Michael Pizza, 2020