They consider it “the Academy Awards of Martial Arts.” And, if that’s the case, Delaware Budokan’s Hanshi Philip M. Scudieri can consider himself an “Oscar” winner.
In front of the 1,500 in attendance at the ceremony held at the Tropicana Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, N.J., in January, Hanshi Scudieri was inducted into the Action Martial Arts Magazine’s Hall of Honors and presented the award for Outstanding Contributions in the Martial Arts.
But even after 45 years of both training in and teaching martial arts, and even after his fair share of past honors — including three other Hall of Honors inductions and two invitations to represent the United States at the Kyoto Budofest in Kyoto, Japan — the Selbyville-based Hanshi was still more than humbled when he got the news.
“It’s just amazing. I was blown away,” said Scudieri. “To get called up in front of all these pioneers of martial arts, I was thrilled to be considered for this kind of recognition.”
To add to the occasion, Scudieri also got the chance to meet some of those martial arts pioneers in person, many of whom he’s looked up to ever since starting out with his first belt, now more than four decades ago.
Now himself an official inductee into the “Hall of all Halls,” however, Scudieri got to see the tables turned, with the next generation of martial arts hopefuls looking up to him the same way.
“Then it was pretty interesting,” Scudieri said. “We were at a table with eight other people, and when I came back [from receiving the award], it was really funny to have all these guys bowing to me and asking me to sign things for them. They’re right where I was 25 years ago.”
Also in attendance to share the night was Scudieri’s wife — also an internationally renowned martial artist in her own right — Celinda Ellsworth.
“She’s my personal bodyguard,” Scudieri said with a laugh. “Having her there to be able to share this with me — and for all these years — has been just incredible.”
Recently, Scudieri was further honored when he was featured in author David Nemeroff’s new book “Modern Masters of the Martial Arts.”
The work highlights more than 50 modern martial arts masters sharing what makes their style, philosophy and history unique, with plenty of photographs of and insights from each instructor.
Scudieri said that book “has lifted the veil and helped those that are curious about what makes one martial art different from another,” and was released at an opportune time for the sport as it has continued to increase in popularity over the last decade, due to the awareness of mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
“Some of the people in the book are just outstanding — I’m very honored to be included in it,” he said.
The Hanshi — the title of the highest rank of kendo, a Japanese martial art descended from swordsmanship — holds two eighth-degree black belts in swordsmanship and Japanese weaponry, as well as black belts in karate, tae kwon do and a renshi menkyo in the Itto Tenshin Ryu. He’s also the chief representative for the U.S. to the All Japan Budo Federation and Nippon Seibukan Dojo — the national governing board for budo (Japanese martial arts) in Japan.
That’s where he’ll be headed in September for his next honor, to lead the U.S. delegation from the Delaware Budokan in the event put on by the All Japan Budo Federation and Nippon Seibukan Dojo, with support from the Imperial House.
In the meantime, however, he and Ellsworth will continue to pride themselves on providing an authentic atmosphere for those looking to learn the “way of the warrior,” right here in Sussex County, at Delaware Budokan.
“Our dojo is very authentic,” Scudieri explained. “If a samurai from 400 years ago walked into our dojo, they’d be at home.”
For more on Scudieri and Delaware Budokan, check out their website at www.delawarebudokan.net or call the dojo at (302) 436-8189. “Modern Masters of the Martial Arts” is currently available through online retailers and at Delaware Budokan, at 37221 Johnson Road, Selbyville.