Grand Master Otis Baker is the oldest of the Baker Brothers. He appears shy, quiet, and has a broad smile. However, this should not be cause for underestimating his knowledge and abilities.
He is the second highest-ranking Sensei at Bakers Dojo. He holds an 10th Degree Black Belt; and is State Director of the United Martial Arts Association.
Master Baker began his study of Karate in June 1967 under now O'Sensei James A. Jones in Chicago, IL. He soon became one of the School's top students. He demonstrated his abilities by competing and winning at several Karate tournaments in Kumite (Fighting) and Kata (Forms).
During those days, Karate competition was little less than a full-contact event, and all the competitors were highly motivated. Karate was new in America and open Karate Tournaments were new in were World for that matter.
Master Baker, his brothers and Karate-Ka like them pioneered Sport Karate in America and particularly the Midwest.
In September 1968, Master Baker began teaching at the Henry Horner Boys Club, located in the Henry Horner Housing Projects on Chicago's West Side.
Here he was able to touch many lives, and give them an alternative to the self-destructive lifestyles and harsh environments of the housing-projects.
Teaching his philosophy that has made karate part of his life for so many years, and allowed for his personal appreciation of the Art. allowing stress, frustration or any other personal challenges to be transcended in a peaceful and productive experience giving the Karate-Ka a relaxed mind, sense of achievement and personal empowerment.
During this period, (1968-1973) Master Baker as well as his students became nationally rated competitors in fighting and kata, and were featured in Official Karate, Karate Illustrated, Black Belt, Sport Karate and other Martial Arts Magazines.
This is not only a testament to the skills of his students but also to the teaching ability of the Master.
In 1974, he and his brother's opened the oldest African-American commercial Karate School in Chicago located on 13th & Michigan.
Now located at the ZION LUTHERAN CHURCH - 356 E. 109th Street - on the northwest corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Chicago.
In the 40 years of Master Baker's teaching of Karate, he has trained hundreds of students personallv. and influences many, many more.
He and his brother Preston, founded the United Martial Arts Association (UMAA) which was supported by over 40 of the top Instructors and Masters in the Midwest , who saw a need to bring together and support all the styles of martial arts.
They also formed the first professional full-contact team, consisting of several of the top fighters in Chicago area.
He and his brother were featured in Art of the warrior magazine. As well as books such as Men of Steel Discipline, Who's Who in the Martial Arts, and the soon to be released Master Fighters of the Midwest.
Recently the International Eastern Grandmasters and Sokeship Counsel awarded Master Baker the title Kyoshi.
Through Master Baker and his Love of Karate an enormous amount of people have had the Opportunity to find that same support in their lives and have come to love Karate as Much as he does.
I believe all his students and fellow Martial Artists would agree, that Master Otis Baker's values, generousness caring attitude and respect for the Arts has not only earned him the title Master but also THE GENTLMAN OF KARATE.
Obituary for Otis Baker
Grand Master Otis Baker was born on November 22, 1940 in Marianna, Arkansas. He grew up in the small town of Marianna where he graduated from Robert R. Moton High School. He later attended Mary Holmes Junior College in West Point, Mississippi. He went on to attend Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1964, he relocated to Chicago, Illinois where he would spend the rest of his life. He worked for S & C Electrical Company where he was a Tool and Die Technician for 41 years before retiring in 2006.
Grand Master Baker began his study of Karate in June of 1967. He quickly rose to the top of the ranks demonstrating his abilities by competing and winning at several Karate tournaments. In 1968, he began teaching Karate at Henry Horner Boys Club. In 1974, he formed Baker's Dojo with his brothers, which is now one of the oldest black commercial martial arts school in Chicago. In 2012, he was promoted to 10th degree Grand Master. At the time of his death he continued to teach as a 10th degree black belt Grand Master and was State Director of the United Martial Arts Association. He leaves behind many master teachers and students who will continue his legacy.
Grand Master Baker was a devoted Christian who was called in to ministry. After completing religious studies he was ordained as a minister in 2007. At the time of his death, he was a member of Miracle Center Baptist Church located on the west side of Chicago. He was a devoted, active member there and taught Sunday school to the church's youth.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Kara Baker and Theodore Baker; his sister, Lavern Green; his son, Ronald Baker; and his grandson, Hershel Castleberry III.
Otis leaves to cherish his memories, his son, Morris Baker (Natira); his daughter, Rashanna Davis (Shaunton); brothers, Eddie Baker (Llorraine) and Preston Baker (Lena); sisters, Deloris Springer (Charles), Carrie Baker, Mary Baker and Nico Baker Washington; granddaughters, Malaysia Baker and Shelbi Davis; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews and close friends.