Fingerlakes Mall: Meet the People Behind Finger Lakes Karate | Business

Elizabeth Hubbard Citizenship Special

Summer at Fingerlakes Mall is full of events, from recitals at the Absolute Dance to the Poor Boys car show. We’ll have more events going on through July!

The Zerbini Family Circus will be performing under the Big Top from July 2nd to 4th! This will be at the back, near the entrance to the cinema. Then, July 15-17, the Book Fair will be back! This will be at the convention center, and the proceeds will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Research Center at Columbia University in New York City. Peach Truck will also be here to deliver fresh peaches on Saturday, July 16th! Orders must be placed online at one week prior to arrival date.

In addition to events and seasonal changes, the mall is home to some of the best businesses in the area. Track Cinema was voted one of the best movie theaters and one of the best family entertainment destinations in Citizen’s 2022 Best Regional Rankings. Five Star Dog Grooming is one of the best pet groomers; Bass Pro Shops is one of the best boat sales/service businesses; JB Toys & Games is one of the best toy stores, Finger Lakes Karate is the best One of the martial arts studios.

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This week, I sat down with Tony Musso, owner of Finger Lakes Karate, to talk about his business and history. The dojo opened here in June 1992 and has been under Tony’s direction since February 1993. Finger Lakes Karate teaches the basics of traditional Okinawan karate and focuses on the shorin ryu fighting style. Okinawan karate differs from other forms such as Japanese or Korean because Okinawan teachings focus on humility, dignity and respect. Okinawan karate utilizes katas or pre-planned movement groups to learn form and combination techniques. Katas and poses are also a beneficial type of strength training, as well as the cardio benefits that karate provides.

Tony started practicing karate in 1979 and earned his first black belt in 1989. He trained under Robert Herten, a well-regarded instructor in Okinawa shorin ryu karate and Okinawa kobudo. Herten trained under Shugoro Nakazato, creating an Okinawan pedigree that was passed on to Tony. To improve his understanding and execution of art, he also traveled to Okinawa and is now a sixth-level black belt.

When asked why he taught, Tony said: “It’s a labor of love. I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I love teaching and seeing children grow. I love seeing those who leave in the future. Come back in life. They were successful and came back with their own stories and families. I have a multigenerational family; you could say we are family oriented. Family trains together. Life is interesting. I encourage them to play other sports, and karate helps them excel in many areas of life.”

When we talk about the dojo, Finger Lakes karate students count out loud as they practice their katas. “As the class progresses, we move into ‘hidden’ techniques and translate katas; translations are called ‘bunkai’.” Translations allow students to analyze movements and extract combat skills from them. “There’s no substitute for the basics, but I like to disguise them and make it fun,” Tony said.

Tony believes that the most important thing his students learn is confidence.

“They really came out of here more confident. They learned to respect. I have no problem with bullies. None of my students get into trouble because they can fight; they are respectful. I have not had a problem with students being bullied; they Have enough confidence to stand up for yourself. Everything we teach applies to self-defense, even the basics. The exercises, conditioning, and coordination taught are helpful for real-world applications.”

Finger Lakes Karate offers a unique experience and focuses on equity for all students.

“We teach students of all ages. We adapt training to the ability of the person,” Tony said. “We’ve had students with disabilities join the dojo and excel. Our promotions are based on hard work, not innate ability.”

Finger Lakes Karate is ready to welcome new students for every age and skill level. Tony would also like to thank Sharon Assmann, Dana Estelle and Amber Pidlypchak for helping keep the dojo alive and healthy: “They kept the dojo going when I was sick. They taught the students and did a lot for us. Thank you.”

For more information about Finger Lakes Karate and what it offers, call (315) 252-8875.

Elizabeth Hebbard is Director of Marketing at Fingerlakes Mall in Aurelius. For more information, visit or call (315) 255-1188.


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