Sensei Al D. Saddler II (1946 – 2019), Founder

Sensei Saddler was born in Black Mountain, North Carolina (near Asheville). In 1966, he began studying various styles of martial arts, Karate, Aikido, Judo, Kobudo Weaponry and Tai Chi. In karate, he studied various styles: Moo Duk Kwan (Korean), Shorin-Ryu (Okinawan), Shoto Kan (Japanese). In 1968, at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona, Mr. Saddler began studying Uechi-Ryu under George Krob, a renshi 6th Degree Black Belt in Uechi-Ryu Karate.

In 1971 Mr. Saddler received Kyoshi (teacher, or certification as a black belt intructor) in Uechi-Ryu Karate from Master Kanei Uechi, son of the founder Kanbun Uechi (registered number 478). Mr. Saddler then founded the Arizona Uechi-Ryu Martial Arts Association.

Saddler Sensei has instructed martial arts at various organizations. He has also worked with the law enforcement agencies in Arizona and has appeared on radio and television. He was a student and instructor of Japanese Jodo Shinshu Buddhism and Zen meditation. He retired in 2001 from Intel corporation in Chandler, Arizona as photographer/graphics specialist after 19 years. He also maintained his own photography business. He died in 2019.

Sensei Michael Strong, Director & Head Instructor

   Born and raised in Phoenix, AZ, Michael Strong, together with his family, began his study of Uechi-Ryu Karate, at the YMCA, in 1988. He achieved the rank of Shodan (1st degree) blackbelt in 1993, being the youngest to do so, under Sensei Saddler, at that time.  He began teaching at Saddler’s dojos around the valley. He was later named head instructor by Sensei Saddler. In 2016, Sensei Strong also became a member of the Worldwide Martial Arts Association.  

   Mr. Strong worked in Tempe as a drafter and designer for a small scenery company. He is an illusionist, performing magic shows at local events (Strong Magic), an art enthusiast, music lover, and father. 

Sensei Peter Spiess, Resident Instructor

   Peter Spiess born on Long Island, New York, and moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1971. After working and studying at the University of Arizona, he moved to Phoenix to study law in 1977.

   Sensei Spiess spent a number of years studying a combination of the Isshin-Ryu and Shorin-Ryu styles and Shotokan karate. In August 2013, he began his study of Uechi-Ryu under the instruction of Sensei Michael Strong and in 2018 he achieved Shodan (Black Belt). He continues his strong interest in, and study of, Uechi-Ryu Karate. He has now been teaching Uechi-Ryu karate under Sensei Strong since 2018.

   Mr. Spiess is a retired lawyer. His hobbies include hiking and camping, snow skiing, scuba diving, riding his motorcycles around the western United States and playing pool.

Sensei Andrea Gaines, Resident Instructor

     Andrea Gaines began her study of karate in 1994, as a means of self-defense. She soon realized there was more to it and learned great discipline and self-control. She achieved black belt in May of 2003. Sensei Gaines continues to teach and carries the lessons she has learned into her daily life.

     Ms. Gaines has an associate degree in Social Work. She has been a baker at Fry’s Food Stores for 27 years.

Consulting Black Belts

We respect your commitment, and decisions about your training are supported by a vast knowledge pool of Saddler black belts.

Sensei Judith Strong
Sensei Randy D. Danielsen
Sensei Kimberly Kowalski
Sensei Adam Strong
Sensei Bobbie Walden


Sensei Charmaine Roberts
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Sensei Bill Mattingly
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Sensei David Howell

Visiting Black Belts

We are grateful for the Uechi-Ryu instructors from dojos around the world who have attended and lent their perspective and expertise to Saddler/Strong’s Dojo.

Sensei Paul Simons
Sensei Huynh Ngoc Bao Tran
Sensei Salahaldin “Sal” AlJaber (Okinawa Uechi-Ryu Karate Do, International)