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Way of the Sensei


Master karate instructor Burton Maben aims to improve fitness and the overall lives of those in the community.


Originally from Detroit, Burton Maben moved to New Orleans Jan. 1998 when he took a job as the director of development for the Housing Authority of New Orleans. He started training in karate in 1973, and he credits his older brother — who was a Judo student — and the late cinema icon Bruce Lee as being his motivation to pursue the martial arts. He opened his first karate school in Rochester, NY, in 1984 as a graduate student at the University of Rochester. The following year, he became a certified black belt; he currently holds the rank of eighth-degree black belt. “I left the Housing Authority in 2001 and sought a change of career,” Maben says. “I decided that I could actually make a career in martial arts education in the New Orleans metropolitan area after a short stint as an instructor at the Belle Chasse Naval Air Station.”

He and his wife, Nancy Maben, opened the New Orleans Karate Club in May 2001. Over the years, the school has helped thousands of students learn self-defense, build confidence, achieve goals and contribute back to the community through leadership projects and partnerships with local schools, churches and service organizations. NOKC offers martial arts, self-defense and fitness training for all ages starting as young as 3 three years old. “We have anti-bully programs for children, women’s self-defense programs and longevity programs for mature adults,” Maben says. “We have been in continuous operation for 17 years and only closed for one month after Hurricane Katrina.”

NOKC is unique because it is completely family owned and operated. “We treat our members as an extension of our own family,” Maben says. “People in this area love the consistency and quality of our operation. We operate on the principle of CANI (constant and never ending improvement). My personal fitness routine is based on consistency and understanding the basics of nutrition, movement, strength training and longevity. This profession has allowed me to be in control of my own time, while giving back to this community in various ways.” 8611 Hwy. 23, Ste. 2C, Belle Chasse, (504) 391-7200, neworleanskarate.net



“I have to strive to stay fit because I am a martial artist, father, husband and role model,” Maben says. “Motivation comes from both the need to help others and to stay healthy for my family.”


“I am a total and self-confessed foodie,”Maben says. “I love everything. As I have gotten older, I do not eat fast foods, processed foods, pork products and red meats in excess. Think about this on your plate: 80 percent green and 20 percent brown — that is a great place to start. Stay hydrated and stay fueled on fruits and vegetables. I love sweets (fresh baked breads and pastries, not candy), but controlling the intake of refined sugars is an exercise in self-control.”


“Since we opened the school in the New Orleans metropolitan area, we have helped people who are sight-impaired, hearing-impaired, are drug and alcohol-addicted, obese, and many women who have suffered from physical and sexual abuse,” Maben says. “I am particularly proud of the fact that we have helped individuals overcome drug and alcohol addiction by redirecting their focus to a healthy lifestyle. Part of the redirection is getting them into a goal-oriented program (like earning their black belt) that requires them to face their worst habits and get clean. You cannot pass the rigors of a black belt exam if you are straddled by addiction.”


“My advice to anyone who wants to be successful in a karate or fitness program is to get a coach,” Maben says. “Your coach should be committed to your success and also exemplify the positive qualities that you are seeking to attain. Your coach should have you on a program and should positively motivate you to stay consistent — consistency is the key to success.”