View Full Version : Michel E. Kramer (Karate)

3rd May 2006, 18:43
In memory of the late Michel E. Kramer Sensei
By Neil Adelman

Michael E. Kramer Sensei passed away on Thursday April 27th, 2006 at the age of 80. His martial arts career spanned over 60 years. He grew up in New York City and served in the United States Navy during World War II. He was a Pipe-Fitter by profession until his retirement.

Kramer Sensei was my original instructor as a kid in the 1970ís through Shodan in 1984, and remained so until he retired to Florida in the mid 1980ís. Iíll never forget the day I started learning with him. I was just a kid, playing with his son, Ken, when he abruptly entered the room, gave me a very stern look, his face seemed to be carved from granite, and said in a very commanding voice ďBe here at 5:00 p.m. tomorrow, and wear loose clothing!Ē. Well, needless to say, I was too afraid of what would happen to me if I didnít show, so the next day I arrived promptly at 5:00 p.m. and he drove me to the dojo, and started to train me. He must have felt sorry for me and thought that I needed it real bad.

When I studied under him, he maintained a small dojo, with never more than 10-12 students. New students were welcomed when there was an opening, and after an interview, would be given a trial period, before being accepted. The rate was $30 per month, and classes where Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for three hours each, and four hours on Sunday. We had many classes on off days as well. There was no such thing as missing class. Sensei Kramer was an old school Karateka who insisted on a traditional way of doing things, dedicating himself to his art, and the ethical behavior that was demanded of one who practiced the art. He worked us very hard and required absolute discipline. He pushed us all to strive for perfection. This was not a dojo for the faint of heart, and many of the students did not remain. He believed in small classes and long, hard workouts. This is what it took to learn Karate, period, no compromise. As far as I know, he only promoted three people to black belt in all his years. I am fortunate and honored to be one of them.

While he was fairly well known in the Cleveland, Ohio area in the 70ís and early 80ís, he preferred to remain known only to those who needed to know him. Sensei Kramer preferred to remain unaffiliated and was not associated with any particular group or federation. Sensei wanted to teach his way, period. For him, it was all about the art.

While he brought us to some tournaments (we always took home at least two out of three 1st place trophies), he didnít feel Karate was a sport, and preferred to remain outside of the spotlight and outside of the politics. He abhorred the commercialization that was becoming ever so prevalent.

He was his own man and lived by his own rules.

I owe him more than I can describe. As a youth, it was his influence that kept me from getting into serious trouble. The discipline and lesson I learned from him carried me to success in the military and in business. I will always carry him in my heart.