Congratulations Master Joe — From a Very Proud Son

Master Joe Ingrati is the director and school owner of JAI Martial Arts in Maroubra, Australia. He has been involved in martial arts since 1970. He has studied various martial arts and his achievements include an 8th Dan in Taekwondo, 8th Degree Kenpo Karate Black Belt, and a Kru certification in Muay Thai. More information about Joe Ingrati and JAI Martial Arts can be found at

The following article was written by Master Joe’s son, Christopher Ingrati.

This past weekend JAI had the pleasure of hosting Grandmaster Richard Bustillo for a series of seminars at our school. Grandmaster Bustillo was a student of the iconic Bruce Lee, and after the death of his teacher, Master Bustillo was one of the pioneers who helped spread Jeet Kune Do as well as the Filipino martial art of Eskrima in America, and throughout the world. Even at his age of 72, Grandmaster Bustillo moves as well as a man half his age, he is still witty and is still happy to share his stories about Bruce and the era that helped spread Martial Arts to the Western Nations. His presence alone oozes of what Generation Z would call ‘swag’.

Last year around this time, Master Joe Ingrati received notification that his peers had nominated him for an award at the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame Ceremony to be celebrated in Phoenix, Arizona. The Award titled ‘Outstanding Martial Artist’ was not JUST about the skill set of an individual, but also of their contribution to the Martial Arts and to the people he/she teaches. After much deliberation about whether to attend – and my pleas that he should go and take his son with him – he decided not to go and informed the Council of his decision. Closing the school for a few days, possibly up to a week was not something he wanted to do, not at a time where we had many students preparing for their Black Belt gradings, and not at a time where students and parents relied on us being open for their regular training, stress release outlet and Martial Arts learning.

Thinking that his name would be pulled from the pool of Nominees for the award due to his non attendance, Master Joe forgot about the award and it was back to doing what he loves most. Months would later pass, and then in his email correspondence with Grandmaster Bustillo, he read the word ‘Congratulations’. In his attendance at the Ceremony, Grandmaster Bustillo accepted the award on behalf of Master Joe. Despite not being there, the Council still deemed him a worthy recipient of the award.

Receiving an award for ‘Outstanding Martial Artist’ looks at the individual as a whole – his skill set, and his/her ability to help shape, change and positively impact those in his/her school. On this year our 30th Anniversary, we look back at

the thousands of families that have walked through our doors. We see the positive benefits that Martial Arts has, not only on our children, but also on the stressed out teens and adults. We’ve seen shy kids find their inner confidence, troubled teens find an after school program that keeps them out of trouble with their friends, adults finding a fitness program they love as they set out to lose some unwanted weight, and of course every student learning about discipline, respect and compassion. We strongly believe in positive role models, and we are proud that our school and our staff can be the positive role models for others.

In terms of awards and success, our students have received numerous awards and experienced so many highlights, here are just a few –

  • Representing NSW in competition, representing Australia in competition, being a member of the Olympic Athlete Program….
  • Training with and meeting Martial Arts icons such as Grandmaster Bustillo, Ernie Reyes Jr and Sr, Grandmaster Toddy, Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace….
  • Being recognised at Taekwondo Coach of the Year, Australian Team Coach, Australiasia Hall of Fame member….

As many would know, my father is a very humble man. Not only does he get to do what he loves 7 days a week, but he also gets to do it with his family and his team of dedicated instructors. He is often happy to stand back and let his students shine, whether it be in Competition, or by bringing in the A List of Martial Art teachers to help give his students opportunities to learn and further themselves. He doesn’t seek acknowledgement or awards as some do, he just wants to do what he loves doing.

Master Joe started Martial Arts back in 1970, all because of one man – Bruce Lee. Now, after 44 years of studying Martial Arts – and 30 years teaching – to receive the Outstanding Martial Artist award from the student of his hero is something very special and unique. But, knowing my dad, today is Monday, and it’s back to work, back to doing what he loves most – teaching Martial Arts.

Well done dad.