Never Settle Awards

Welcome to the inaugural year of the Never Settle Awards. You can read the full announcement on the Martial Journal Website: here

Martial Arts Awards

Martial Journal Logo

Together with Martial Journal, whistlekick is proud to sponsor the Never Settle Awards. These awards are designed to recognize the martial artists who give back to their schools, their communities, and the martial arts world at large.


Voting Closed on October 24, 2022

Never Settle Awards


Voting is Now Complete
Top 3 Announced Under Each Category

We will award the winners at Free Training Day Northeast, on November 12, 2022.

Thank you to everyone who voted and supported our first-year effort.

Emissary of the Arts Award

Emissary of the Martial Arts Award - Man Hiking with a Backpack

Highlighting those who have contributed to the arts and the community as well, making the world a better place. Ideal nominees would demonstrate the positive qualities of martial arts and martial artists in ways not directly tied to martial arts. Many martial arts schools use positive character traits as a benefit to be grown from continued training.

These nominees demonstrate these qualities routinely beyond the walls of their schools such that people know the nominee based on actions and deeds, not on martial arts rank, ability, or martial arts notoriety.

Top 3

Recipient - Sifu Stephen Watson

Stephen is an unquestionable emissary of the martial arts. He will teach anyone, anywhere, and works tirelessly to share all that is good about martial arts and to spread good cheer to all members of the martial arts community. Stephen lives the arts and he embodies what a true martial artist should be and what the martial arts is all about. His interaction with his local community as well as the martial arts community at large is unparalleled. Those that know him are happy to call him a friend and teacher.

Kyosah Danielle Mathura-Millholen,

Danielle is 21 years old, and over the past 11 years has dedicated her time to training in Taekwondo and Kickboxing, while also balancing her education and a part-time job. She contributes to her community by co-teaching a children's martial arts program at our local community center for students who are just beginning their training. While continuing her own training, Danielle also helps with students who may need more attention and assistance with their training skills. Danielle also teaches private lessons for students who experience social anxiety and prefer an individualized lesson. All the students at our school are very fond of Danielle and enjoy the interaction they have with her. Their confidence levels and physical growth have developed tremendously with Danielle's help. Over the past several years, Danielle has traveled to New Hampshire, Tennessee, New Jersey, and Florida to participate in trainings, symposiums, and conferences to advance her skills, test her knowledge, and train with people who have had very positive impacts in her young-adult life.  Danielle recently completed her bachelor's degree in health sciences at the University of Hartford, works in retail, and is in the process of applying to a graduate program. The positive effect of her martial arts training has heavily influenced her ability to focus, dedicate herself to completing large tasks, and communicate very well with others in our community. Danielle is widely known throughout our community as she has lived and attended school here for many years.

Mr. Colin Moeller 3rd Dan Black Belt

Colin started training at 12 years old. He was always quiet and serious but took all of the character building lessons from our #Teammate life skills program very seriously. By the time he was 16 he was a full instructor at our academy. He has always cared deeply about the arts he teaches, but cares far more for the life skills program and the impact he can have on the lives of our kids and families. He has now been having that amazing impact on families and kids quietly for the past 4 years. We have always known him to take character very seriously both inside and outside of the studio. He is a prime example of a humble martial artist with strong character.


Other Nominees for Emissary of the Arts

Raz Chen-Expert Instructor

Raz has devoted his life to self-defense, and the idea that we can all be our own heroes. He works tirelessly to empower others. When you’re his student, you get the best from him, but he expects your best in exchange.

Ori Cohen - Brown Belt

Ori inspires those around her. Despite being young enough to be starting high school, her maturity and talent make others around her want to be better. Her goal is to inspire young women to take charge of their personal safety, and that you don't need to be big and strong to be safe, you just have to be trained. She's a rising star who should be recognized.

Sifu Vincent Lyn         

Vincent Lyn is not only the last teacher of his family form of Kungfu (Ling Gar, a predecessor to Wing Chun), taught thousands of students, starred in several Hong Kong kung fu classics (including Tiger Cage, Outlaw Brothers, and Operation Condor), composed Grammy nominated hit songs and has played at Carnegie Hall multiple times (including an up-coming return appearance 12/2/22), but he is now traveling the world in cooperation with the United Nations to rescue children in jeopardy everywhere from Africa to the Ukraine through his charity

Sensei Casper Makkink

Casper adopted a foster child from his own dojo when the need was high personally and environmentally. By teaching his kickboxing and kyokushin karate, Casper took the foster child under his wings and now the boy is studying sports, has a job at a gym and is working on himself with youth care!

Hanshi Jerry Piddington

Mr. Jerry Piddington is someone who is always looking to help the growth of the martial arts. He is a traditionalist at heart but can see the value in what others are doing as well.  Mr. Piddington wants to do his part in continuing the martial arts for as long as possible.

Master Suzanne DiGiammo Rayberg

Suzanne DiGiammo Rayberg is an incredible teacher, friend, and helpful leader in the community. Suzanne shows up for her students both inside and out of the dojo. I have watched Suzanne help countless families including mine over the 25 plus years I have known her. She has rallied and created support for those around her going through a multitude of life's obstacles. Suzanne also has a passion for helping animals and has worked to help and rescue many pets. She has worked with many organizations and regularly helps find abandoned or rescues their forever homes.

Tashi Mark Warner

Mark Warner is a true martial artist and his school is a clear representation of family first. His dedication to the art, his staff, and his students is clear and he shares his knowledge skillfully with all ages.  He has been a positive impact in our family for 10 years. This July my 15-year-old son became a black belt times three and my 13 year old daughter became a first black belt.  My guys are literally Yin and Yang. One is an extreme extrovert and the other an extreme introvert. Mark Warner and his team can meet them where they need to be and have been a powerful yet quiet constant in my children’s lives: A place that they have always called their own, a second home. A place where they are honored for exactly who they are. They both struggle with Dyslexia and ADHD and Mark provides a place where they can excel.  Their success is a testament to Mark and his school’s philosophy in martial arts education.


Flashlight Award

Flashlight Award - Martial Arts Awards - Flash light shining into space

People who make a difference in the arts - no matter rank. While quietly making an impact in their community, they demonstrate that actions speak louder than words in the most positive of ways.

A nomination for this award represents that the nominee's actions were noticed, were appreciated, and are worthy of recognition beyond a simple “Thank You.”

This is the person who needs to be nominated because they would never nominate themselves.

Top 3

Recipient - Julianna Sances - Black Belt

I have known Julianna Sances since she was about 5 years old. Julianna has been an inspiration to many who have watched her perform. She is a Martial Artist, Dancer, singer, and actress. She is an active member of our school and enjoys teaching and passing on her knowledge to our students. Julianna has a big heart and cares deeply about the Arts. Though she be young she gets things done. She recently organized an entire makeover of our Dojo that included a paint job and new decor to surprise the head instructor. we are so thankful that such a talented caring young lady is a part of our school. Julianna certainly deserves a thank you for all the good she brings to others.

Sifu DeRon Franklin

DeRon consistently exhibits the highest form of the ideals of Positivity, Stick-to-itiveness, Engagement, and Practice. Hi quiet actions in service of community, the martial arts, and health in general may go overlooked but they do not exist without lasting impact. DeRon is who you want any prospective teacher to shadow and then model. An honorable, devoted, and kind man; this is what the Martial Arts can make of someone. He is humble and perhaps hidden but he makes the world better one punch at a time, one class at a time, and one student at a time.

Peter Rivera - Bo Dan

Peter Rivera is the welcoming face and voice that we experience every time we walk into Tae Kwon do. Every time is not an over exaggeration either. He is always available, always encouraging and takes time to make sure everyone feels important. If he has ever had a bad day (which I am sure he has because he is human) you would never know it. Peter exemplifies the tenets of Tae Kwon Do to their highest standards every day. I don't think Peter's patience ever runs out, he balances being both student and teacher flawlessly. Whatever the circumstance, his ability to look at things in a positive light is infectious to those around him. I have heard it said that a great teacher leaves his/her mark on a student’s life forever. Peter's love for showing up in the small stuff daily, makes him one kids and adults will remember long after their Tae Kwon Do training. Giving someone the confidence to learn, all they wish in the most quiet and compassionate way goes beyond Martial Arts its self. To put it mildly, Peter is helping create better humans in the small corner of the world he is in.


Other Nominees for the Flashlight Award

Capt. Frank Bogyos

He is always guiding people in the right direction. Doesn't matter if it's in martial arts or helping people travel around seminars. Always willing to go the extra mile to help his fellow martial artist with anything he can. He would give the shirt off his back to help the martial arts community. He ran a TKD school out of his barn when COVID forced the school to close.

Grandmaster Ed "Goco" Galang

Grandmaster Ed Galang is a humble martial artist, instructor, and human being. Although he has produced over 1,000 members in his previous organization (Chinese Kickboxing International) and produced quality “black sash” level practitioners who have also become regional or national champions, he is never one to brag about his accomplishments. His priority in the martial arts has always been to produce competent self-defenders. This is reflected in his personal training philosophy: “We all live under the guidance of a higher power, and it is up to us to learn a system of self-defense to prevent anyone from sinning against us.” It doesn’t matter what a student’s background or beliefs are – he simply wants you to be able to protect yourself and those around you. All of his students’ accomplishments are theirs alone and he takes pride in simply seeing them succeed. He constantly encourages his students to spread their knowledge and evolve their practice as they see fit. One to lead by example, GM Ed has openly shared his experience and expertise with any who are open-minded and of good character. He has globally taught hobbyists, national police, elite security forces, homeland security, military, and bodyguards alike without discrimination.

Grandmaster Sterling Johnson

Grand Master Sterling Johnson is very knowledgeable practitioner of Kyusho Jitsu and senior student of Grandmaster George Dillman (Pressure points Kyusho Jitsu) and Grandmaster Furman Marshall (Taekwondo Tangsoodo Karate). I feel he’s never gotten the credit that he’s been doing terms of his role in spreading Kyusho Jitsu as well as getting the recognition he should get for his deep knowledge of taekwondo and karate. He taught in the Dumfries, Virginia community for years.

Matthew Jones, 3rd Dan

Matthew Jones is an exceptional martial arts leader and example of indomitable spirit. His martial arts journey began earlier in life but brought him to my dojo later in life when he liked what he saw in the classes he enrolled his daughter in at my dojo. He later joined himself, becoming an exceptional training partner to his daughter and to all. He worked hard, earning his 3rd Dan under me and 2nd Dan under Robb Buckland. Subsequent to our dojo closing during the pandemic, Matt suffered a heart attack but overcame this setback to continue his training with me virtually and celebrated his recovery by becoming a Superfoot Black Belt this past January. Matt is a fixture in the weekly Wednesday Superfoot Dojo classes and travels to seminars in the northeast to continue progressing in his martial arts studies. He is truly a guiding light for others who wish to overcome and conquer life’s challenges!

Kyoshi CJ Mayo

Kyoshi Mayo exhibits the true meaning of martial arts in every aspect of his life. He teaches martial arts out of his church for free, he is always ready to help a fellow instructor with any question or difficulty. He is always promoting all styles and schools as family with great things to offer.

Mr. Colin Moeller 3rd Dan Black Belt

This man began training with us when he was 12. He was quiet and a hard worker. He always represented our word of the week character traits to a T. That is why I brought him into our leadership program. That was hard for him at first as he was not used to being loud and in the spotlight. By the time he was 16 he had managed to become a full-time instructor with us. I have seen him do some incredible things both as a martial artist and as a person. He is now 20 and recently went on a school trip to Italy, by the stories we have heard he continued to represent our studio well and living with the tenants of our #Teammate life skills program. He has spent several years giving our young kids’ classes these lessons in ways they can understand and has had a massive impact on the kids in our community

Professora Bernadette Robinson

Professora Bernadette has an ability to understand her students while giving quality martial knowledge like no other. Her detailed instruction on Jiu-Jitsu has made me a more proficient martial artist as well as my peers. On top of that she made her interest in my health known. While I was training with her, I was spiraling into a depression for months. I was talking negatively about myself on the mat and was questioning in my head how much I wanted to live anymore. She noticed this. Pulled me aside. Chatted with me for 20 minutes while her class was rolling. Told me I needed to go back to therapy, gave me her number if I ever needed something, and hugged me while I got emotional. If it wasn’t for martial artists like Professor Bernadette, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t be having an impact on my students if it weren’t for her.

Master Raymond Shugart

Years of teaching training and contributing to the betterment of martial arts. Head coach of the American national AAU team. Promoted countless black belts and completely embodies the spirit and nobility of the martial arts

Sensei Jenny Siu

Jenni taught self-defense to Russian orphans who literally had nothing in the world. She is an unsung hero and she deserves recognition for her work.

Tashi Mark Warner

Tashi Mark Warner has always put others first. He is the epitome of humility. He is active not only in developing kind and caring martial artists at his school but does many things for the greater Ipswich community. He does not say "No" to fundraising, giving a student a ride, adapting his schedule to help someone, basically putting out a helping hand to whomever needs it. Never thinking of himself first he will give whatever is in his wallet (so to speak) to anyone in need even if that means crackers and peanut butter for his dinner! (Sounds dramatic but it's the best way I can explain it!) Although he is recognized by individuals with a "Thank you!" he never seeks public recognition and is not one of the "thumbs in the belt" martial artists.

Sifu Steve Watson

Sifu Watson makes a difference in the arts due to the spiritual connect in which they give him. An important part of doing your art is to make it your own. Only then can it be continued as one more tradition for a future practitioner. Sifu Watson has inspired me to take that to the length that he has. When I watch him, I don't see a man uphold tradition through graceful movement and unrestrained flowing of energy through the body, but someone who lives the tradition as fervently as those who set it in place in the fabric of the internal arts. To see that is awesome, and to learn and play from someone like that changes you.

Open Door Award

Open Door Martial Arts Award - Door Opening Onto a Garden

This person operates a school that has created a culture where students would refer to it as home, family. Everyone is welcome and wants to be there - with each other, even though they are all different.

These schools make everyone feel welcome, regardless of what they bring to the table. Past training or not, all ages, physical capacity, and more. These schools accept everyone, and make sure that their first few months is only the beginning of the journey.


Top 3

Recipient - Master Kellie Thomas – TKD K.I.C.K.S.

Kellie has truly developed a family here at TKD Kicks. Our kids feel so welcomed and loved. They feel comfortable being encouraged and pushed to new milestones. She’s compassionate and wants to know the students, to best connect with them to meet them where they’re at in their training. She creates family friendly days to include anyone else in the families to participate and have fun. The bond is so strong between the families. Even if we don’t know each other yet and are meeting for the first time, we all know we are family. We all encourage each other and cheer each other on, no matter the level. We help lift each other when times are hard. Both of our kids have conditions that create challenges and barriers. You wouldn’t even know it when they’re at TKD Kicks! Everyone is welcome here, no matter their circumstances. This program really, truly is the definition of this award. Kellie has created an amazing, inclusive environment!

Sensei Matt Erolin – Erolin 3DMA

My 2 sons have attended Erolin 3DMA for almost 2 years. Sensei Matt strives on making sure the dojo which he often says, "Our Dojo", is a family. He teaches the students to always welcome new students by introducing themselves by name and welcoming them to the dojo. We are not just a dojo we are a family.

Kera Radke – Lake Zurich Family Martial Arts

The term Family Martial Arts is personified in who Kera is and what she has built. She began her martial arts journey like many of us did, seeking a place of belonging that provided challenges and growth in the awesomeness of kicks and punches, throws and sweeps. Her passion for teaching and coaching immediately took form as she began leading community activities at her local park district. Watching children grow into their potential became a staple for her as she turned to a career as a math teacher. But, her heart was always in being a martial arts teacher. Kera trained and taught martial arts throughout her teenage and adult life. She created family-centered programs and children’s programs for two schools before she decided she wanted to build her own school. Once she did, her passion and indomitable spirit, driven by her heart of service and family, led her to create a martial arts school that is now a staple in the Lake Zurich community. Her students come for the family and stay for the martial arts. Her students' parents enjoy the safety, love, and kindness LZFMA provides. The community has come to enjoy and value the service Kera and LZFMA gives back. Kera built all of that, stays humble in her roots, and truly loves her martial arts family and the community in which they live.


Other Nominees for the Open Door Award

Tashi David Carman – Kiai Martial Arts

David Carman is the friendliest and most open Dojo owner I know. He is always willing to let martial artist use his Dojo for training, seminars, or other events even if he gains nothing from it.

David is by far one of the most humble martial artists I have met.

Professor Juan Pablo Garcia – EDJ School of Jiu Jitsu

I am nominating this school because of the culture that has been created and kept safe through the years of people coming and going. This school makes you feel like you belong here no matter who you are & where you come from

Sensei Casper Makkink - Back2Base

Sensei Casper Makkink is a martial arts practitioner and instructor from the Netherlands. Casper is not only committed to teaching his kickboxing and kyokushin karate style to children and adults, but also those who have a history with youth care. Everybody is welcome, you only need to do your very best!

The McCoy Family (Paul, Anne, Barbara) – McCoy’s Action Karate

McCoy's Action Karate is a home to one and all. They do everything they can to be inclusive. Regardless of orientation, nationality, ability, native language, or even non-verbal students, anyone can find a home away from home at McCoy's. They openly show their support for everyone who finds themselves in their establishment, even if it is against their personal beliefs. The McCoys always support their students, staff, and their families; celebrating their accomplishments, on and off the mat, with them but equally there to support them there during hardships. Their four walls do not contain their impact. They open their doors through various community events; teaching tai chi in senior centers throughout the community, as well as offering bully prevention programs and self-defense seminars targeting those who are not students. They offer programs for the local boy scouts, girl scouts, and local schools. After losing a former student to suicide, they opened the doors to the community with informal grief counseling as well as bringing in professionals to teach a mental health first aid certification course. They strive to make their community a safer place and bring in events such as CPR certification. Overall, McCoys Action Karate is a safe place and a home away from home to people of all walks of life and a pillar of the surrounding community.

Mr. Paul Millholen – Jitae Taekwondo Academy

I would like to nominate Jitae Taekwondo Academy and Paul Millholen for the Open Door Award. Paul opened Jitae Taekwondo in 2011 and has always welcomed students of all ages and ability to train with him. Paul has always offered a family-based environment and has designed "Family Classes" for parents and their children to train together. When searching for a new location several years ago, Paul chose a space with an extra room and created a "Children's Room", to help parents who train or watch their child's class and need to bring their younger children with them. Paul has never turned away a student or family because of training or financial ability. He is willing to work with every family and strongly believes everyone deserves the chance to train. Paul incorporates different styles of martial arts into his training curriculum. He teaches traditional Taewkondo and combines kickboxing, aikido, and karate self-defense drills. Jitae Taekwondo has been a great addition to many of the families in our community as they otherwise would not be able to afford martial arts training for themselves and/or their children. I believe Paul is well deserving of this award for the sincere effort he has put into building a strong martial arts family at Jitae Taekwondo Academy and within our community.

Steve and Mindy Ruddock – NCK Bellingham

My parents have worked hard to create a family friendly dojo.  Mom works with younger kids of all abilities and dad works with the adults as well as kids. They love what they do and we all love being there. Our classes are inclusive and positive, and our school is a big family. We call ourselves the NCK Bellingham Family.

Shihan Donny Sheinwald – Kanzen Goju Ryu

Kanzen Goju Ryu was born in 1974 by a former student of Peter Urban. Now head instructor Shihan Sheinwald has sparked new life into the dojo by bringing in students of all forms. The pandemic put a real hurt on the school, but when you walk in and see students of different levels, shapes, sizes and abilities, you recognize it is truly something spectacular again.

Being a traditional Goju Ryu school, young students are usually not allowed to join as the curriculum is very mature. But we now have students as young as 10 years old starting their journey. We also have former students return after many years, some as much as 30 years away! We also have a handful of students with disabilities, and Shihan and the other instructors have shown great patience and understanding as these students take their own paths towards learning and demonstrating the material. Seeing students from ages 10 to age 71 all working together as a family is something to see!

Grand Master Frank Shekosky – Cromwell Martial Arts

I started learning from him because he hosted one of my favorite martial artist. When I arrived at his school he was really friendly and welcoming. So much I started training under him. He's invited my school to his tournaments and events. Offered to have a seminar at my school. He has also had the same warmth and open heart to many other martial artist and schools. He does all this with no hidden agenda just a great man.

Enduring Footprint Award

Enduring Footprint Martial Arts Award - Footprints in Sand

Ideal nominees would stand out for their lasting impact on the martial arts community across a significant period of time. While the extent of the impact may be a result of direct, in person interactions, impact resulting through social media and other internet activity is also worthy of consideration.

Martial artists would not only say that they know who the nominee is but will also be able to discuss how the nominee influenced their training in some way.

Top 3

Recipient - Shihan Scott Lombardo

Shihan Scott Lombardo established the V-MAT center which is a dojo that is free to any veteran. He offers martial arts training to any amputee, wheelchair bound as well as those with any any traumatic injury or experience. He received the the OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD from the governor of New Hampshire for establishing this center. Scott was a master at using martial arts to overcome  any obstacle. First by overcoming stage 4 cancer by training for a year in a hospital bed by his Sensei Master Temple. He faced many challenges but founded and established the VMAT center in Portsmouth New Hampshire. After being diagnosed with ALS at age 55 he never stopped overcoming. When COVID came he taught online every week and typed in commands when his voice started to fade. After reopening VMAT he never missed a class and instructed by example when was unable to speak. After losing his mobility he came to the dojo in a wheelchair and continued to teach. He continued to instruct and inspire students until the week he passed away in April 2022. He left a big footprint by giving us the VMAT center and by inspiring everyone who came in contact with him.

Dennis Campo

He's both inspirational with his physical skill and teaching.

Mrs. Brittani Rose 4th Degree Black Belt

This person was one of my first students and definitely one of the hardest working. She always took every lesson to heart. After a few years, she decided to pursue a career in teaching here. From the very beginning, she was a wonderful influence on our beginners and new students. Always accepting everyone and making them feel comfortable and at home. She very quickly put those skills to use speaking to interested students and making people feel comfortable while giving information to potential and new students. It didn't take long before those skills began to be used out in the community forming great relations with the community and working together with different organizations to have a great impact on the community. On a personal note. This person always pushed me in my own training. It wasn't long before she transitioned from training under me to training with me. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't be half the martial artist I am today and our studio wouldn't be half of what it is. Because of her, we have made a lasting footprint in our community over the past 12 years. Her natural ability to converse with people and her genuine drive to help others and work together are inspiring. She is also still inspiring me today in my own training.

Other Nominees for the Enduring Footprint Award

Master Huzon Alexander

Huzon has been in Tae Kwon do for many years, and has been a mentor to hundreds of students. Many of whom are still with him. He also teaches anti bullying classes at local schools and has worked with children, women and police forces teaching self-defense.


Danny Doherty

Danny has for many years practiced and instructed kids not just in martial arts, but has been a massive support to so many from the day they first walked into the dojo at 5 or 6 years old, until they were going off to college, starting their first job and having kids of their own, always being that supportive sensei. He has consistently honed his skills and has put so many hours a week in to passing the martial arts onto the rural community in Donegal in Ireland, a pleasure to share the mats with and a very good friend to all in the martial arts.

Grand Master Jimmi Faralli

I have known Jim Faralli since he was a young teenager. I have watched him grown into a very positive man with impeccable character. He seeks to give back to the community in several ways. He is a lover and protector of animals. Mr. Faralli has been teaching martial arts for over 40 years with goals of building confidence, courage and confidence in not only i students but with anyone he comes in contact with. He is recognized and respected in the national martial arts community as a knowledgeable and effective martial artist. He has earned the position as a annual martial arts session presenter in the Korean Martial Arts Festival held in Crestview, Florida each April. His enduring footprint has touched many lives.

Master John L. Jorge

I feel that Master John L Jorges love and dedication to the arts should be awarded. I have known him since we were young kids and all he has ever been about is the martial arts. I've never met anyone like him. He has taught me several techniques throughout the years and has always been available to teach anyone with the desire to learn, and I have witnessed his martial arts lifestyle. He’s a humble human being but no push over. I admire his charisma and passiveness. He’s definitely helped many find their way to through the martial arts. He truly deserves this award.

Kyoshi CJ Mayo

Kyoshi runs his honbu with out receiving any tuition from any of the families. No child or adult is ever turned away be cause they cant afford it. There is seldom any time that he charges for anything extra. In partnership with AKANA he is trying to make the Martial Arts more accountable and uniquely united. Every time that Kyoshi steps into the dojo you can feel his passion for the arts and the knowledge of making it better. He makes you want to ask more questions and grow not only as a martial artist but as human.

Master Daniel McCarthy

Master Daniel McCarthy has dedicated his time and energy in reaching out to the youth of his community. Striving to not only teach them the physical skills of the martial arts, which he excels at doing, but also guiding them along a path of healthy living. Incorporating his fitness training background  along with his martial arts knowledge Master Dan has made a lasting impact on many young people's lives. He has inspired several young men and women to continue on and become instructors in the martial arts themselves. He has also continued to have an impact on the lives of students even after they leave his school. Providing a strong role-model to base their behavior on Master Dan is still looked on favorably by students that have moved on from the area. As a former student of mine he still finds ways to impact me even as an instructor through his continuous desire to improve himself.

Dai-Shihan Jeffrey Miller

While many who have seen the Karate Kid movies might say that they would love to meet a Mr. Miyagi in their own lives, I’m guessing few actually do, even in the martial arts.  How many of us can say our instructor actually lives by the words they espouse?  Mr. Jeffrey Miller, however, is one of those people. I may be biased since he is my instructor, but he is quite possibly the hardest working instructor I have ever had the pleasure of learning from.  While he runs a local dojo that teaches self-defense based on the principles of traditional ninjutsu and his own experience in law enforcement and the military, he has students all over the world through a remote training program that he started many years prior to the pandemic.  Because he, himself, was a long distance student while in the military at a time when there were only a few ninjutsu instructors accessible to Westerns, he understands and takes a realistic stance on how to make training accessible and a part of one’s life so that it becomes a habit rather than just a hobby or another obligation.  I have never met an instructor that offers so many different out-of-class ways to learn (twice a week coaching calls on a rotating schedule of personal development, skills and techniques, weapons, and history), a weekly podcast, a weekly live video segment  currently on Facebook where he goes through topics on a whiteboard, a YouTube channel, and work he does on a systemic level as a workplace violence consultant.  While he often reminds students that the responsibility of internalizing the material he teaches lies firmly on their own shoulders, his actions as a teacher are actually closer to “the student who fails to learn, the teacher failed to teach.”  I have seldom met a teacher of anything who consistently aims to overdeliver in all he does, all with the goal of improving access and furthering student knowledge.  He would probably be embarrassed to know someone had nominated him for an award, but at the same time, I think he deserves to be recognized, especially by a contrarian  awards system that seeks to shake up the status quo.  The ninja in him would smile at that :)

Master Ninja Nguyen

Excellent martial arts and bring great ideas and better community martial arts together

Hanshi Jerry Piddington

O'Shihan Piddington has always worked towards bringing martial artist together and sharing knowledge with each other.

Senior Grand Master Jerson “Nene” Tortal

He is one of the true Grand masters that no one knows about. For more in depth detail please refer to my article on The History of Dekiti Tirsia Siradas Kali in Martial Arts Journal

Tashi Mark Warner

Mark Warner is a lifelong martial artist and instructor who works tirelessly to impart his knowledge and skills to his students on a daily basis.  What impresses me most about Mark is, despite his status as a master instructor, he does not hesitate to become a student again to further enhance his already impressive skill set. Mark clearly understands and demonstrates that martial artists’ learning never ends, and everyone has something of value to teach.  He ascribes to the sentiment that I myself hold so dearly, “Sometimes a teacher; ALWAYS a student,” and that is the most enduring footprint a martial arts teacher can leave behind.

Learn More

You can learn more about how we got here with this episode of Martial Arts Radio.