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Meet Sensei Louie, Longtime Martial Arts Instructor

Lynnfield resident Louis Dibiccari runs a martial arts studio in Wakefield and has been offering a fitness program for seniors.

The physical and mental benefits of martial arts can last a lifetime, as countless students out there can attest. And as a growing number of Americans begin reaching retirement age, many are looking for new and interesting ways to stay healthy and active.

One instructor who has been working on building a niche among older students is Louis Dibiccari, a Lynnfield resident who has been teaching martial arts for about 50 years. He is currently the owner of in downtown Wakefield.

Dibiccari, or "Sensei Louie" as he is known by many, also teaches students who are as young as 6. He considers himself a somewhat old-fashioned instructor who has students in two-person drills and who only awards one belt a year - and no black belts until a student reaches age 16.

"I really want to teach the kids martial arts - I don't want to just give them awards," said Dibiccari, who started his own journey as a martial artist as a 19 year old in Revere. As a 12 year old, Dibiccari said that he suffered from polio and was barely able to move for a couple of months - something that likely motivated him later in life to stay active and athletic and to avoid his local street corners. A little while later, he joined the Army even though he recalls weighing only about 90 pounds at the time. "If the Russians ever saw me, they would have come over the next day," he joked. Dibiccari also notes that as a boy, he was raised in a home with a sister and a single mother - and his mother didn't even see him doing martial arts until she was in her 90s.

Since then, the 69-year-old Dibiccari has spent time practicing martial arts in Boston and in San Francisco's Chinatown under his sensei Patrick McCarthy, who made Dibiccari an eighth-degree black belt. Dibiccari keeps in touch with his sensei, who lives in Australia, via Skype.

Those who do study martial arts with Sensei Louie will typically learn Japanese (Okinawan) arts such as Shotokan and Shorinji that in turn are descended from the original Chinese martial arts developed at the Shaolin Temple. The style taught by Dibiccari's sensei, McCarthy, is Koryu Uchinadi. The word koryu means "old style karate," said Dibiccari. The sensei has also been practicing chi gong (also known as Chinese medicine, comparable in some ways to reiki) for 36 years, and he is also well-versed in Tai Chi. He actually got his start as a judo student.

In his latest fitness program geared toward seniors, , Dibiccari reports that he has been running about 12 classes a week, and they can come in to the ones they choose. Keeping active remains extremely important as people age, explains DiBiccari, noting that a sizeable percentage of nursing home residents suffer from muscle atrophy.

Classes include breathing and stretching exercises, some balancing, weight lifting, and Tai Chi, and even some line dancing. "They walk out of here feeling really good," said DiBiccari.

Laurie Hunt April 26, 2012 at 11:42 AM
Sensei Louie is amazing, he has more energy than most people half his age and a great attitude. I highly recommend his classes for children!
gray April 26, 2012 at 01:22 PM
I have been studying tai chi and karate with Sensei Louie since 2006!. He is dedicated to his art and to the benefits of exercise and to sharing both with others. Working with him has lowered my blood pressure, restored my balance and helped me shed more weight than I care to mention in public. Being able to attend his Fit for Life class is one of the major benefits of retirement!
Pamela Schroder April 26, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Since my 10 year old son has joined Sensei Louie's karate classes almost 2 years ago, his confidence and focus has soared! He and the other children in his classes have great respect for Sensei Louie - not because he demands it, but has earned it from them. I highly recommend Beyond Self Defense classes for all ages! - Pamela Schroder
James Lavender April 27, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Jane Lavender I have known Louis for many years while working with seniors. Having recently retired, I was finally able to participate in his Fit for Life classes. I have never felt better. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to improve their overall well-being!!!
C. Riley April 27, 2012 at 02:42 AM
We are so pleased with Sensei Louie's Street Smart Kids class. Our 7 year old has learned how to protect & defend himself, should he ever need to. I highly recommend this for all kids.
Sibyl C. April 27, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Sensei Louie truly understands that people have different capabilities and needs with regard to their athletic abilities. He modifies his instruction on an individual level, even during whole-group instruction. He motivates his students to reach their own personal best!
steven petrello April 27, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Sensei Louie knowledge if the martial arts is unbelievable. I'm a student of Sensei's for the last 12 years and my whole family has trained with him . My son at the age of 22 still speaks about the lessons in life he learned from Sensei. He is truly a great martial artist and instructor, I am thankful every day for the opportunity to know and train with Sensei, His work with the children and seniors is an asset to the community and country.
Paula April 27, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Louie is very dedicated to his field of Tai/Chi, self defense and exercises. He is always giving the students new and useful information. It is a great program and I thoroughly enjoy each and every session. It is the best gift that I could ever give myself. Thank you, Louie.
Deanna V. April 28, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Fourteen years ago, at age 11, I began studying Karate under Sensei Louie at Beyond Self Defense. I not only had the honor of studying the art under a highly skilled instructor, but I was also building essential core values and character at a young age. I trained in Shotokan, Tai Chi, Judo, boxing, weaponry etc..gaining a well-rounded skill set as the years went on; all the while, learning the importance of respect, morals, dedication, confidence, and courage. Sensei Louie has a way of making you want to work hard and be great, both in class and in life.

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