Once a year the International Martial Arts Council of America gathers to recognize and honor those who have sacrificed to make the martial arts better for us all. Inductees into the United States Martial Arts Hall Of Fame are carefully selected from thousands of nominations received every year. All nominations are reviewed and carefully chosen to recognize only those that have made real contributions to the arts. This exclusiveness has brought this distinction notoriety in the martial arts world.
This year, one of the inductees was Tony Bowles Jr., a San Saba native. Tony was born in 1945 in San Saba, TX. He worked at his Uncle Thomas’ (Menchaca) Mobil Service Station and Dick Sherrit’s Texaco Service Station. He also spent many afternoons working in the pecan orchards with his grandfather, Gilbert Menchaca.
At 17 years of age, Tony Bowles Jr. left San Saba for the United States Navy. He was assigned to the Seabees’ Construction Battalion. His duties included operating a D-5 bulldozer making expeditionary airfields. He survived two combat tours of duty in Vietnam. After the war he returned to the United States and attended San Francisco State University and studied mechanical engineering that was offered by Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard.
In Tony’s spare time, he studied martial arts at the Mission District Kenpo Karate Dojo under a Grand Master named, Thomas Barros Mitose. After years of training he eventually earned his black belt in Kosho-Ryu Kenpo under Great Grand Master Mitose and Grand Master in KAJUKENBO under Sijo Adriano D. Emperado, Founder. Tony’s martial arts accomplishments include the 1969 Long Beach International Karate Championships title in Kumite (sparring), instructed low income children at community recreation centers all over San Diego, trained and coached Junior Olympians in sport Tae Kwon Do for the southern California region, and trained Special Forces (US Navy Seals-5) in unarmed combat.
Tony Bowles Jr, now resides in Southern California with his wife, Linda. Although unofficially retired from the martial arts, he still makes the time to teach anyone out of his own garage just like he did when he started teaching way back in the day.
Tony Bowles has had a positive impact on thousands of his students, his martial arts peers, and most especially on me, his son.