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Previous Instructors

Baltimore Martial Arts Instructors has had many talented instructors throughout the years. Many have moved on to other endeavors. Baltimore Martial Arts is grateful for the time that they taught at our school and will dearly miss them all.

Charles “Corky” Peters, Judo Instructor

Charles “Corky” Peters began his Judo studies on February 2, 1987, at the age of 38 at the Baltimore Judo Club under John T. Anderson, Hachidan. When he first saw Judo, he understood the physics behind the techniques, even though it took quite a while before he could apply them with skill. His first shiai, or competition, was in June of 1987 at the Maryland State Games. Peters continued competing in shiai until a minor knee sprain, in November of 1989, caused him to shift his focus toward kata, or formal techniques.

Kata students strive to perfect the quality of Judo techniques, and in kata, Peters found his passion in Judo. From 1990 to 2002, he competed in local, regional, and national competitions for Nage No Kata and Katame No Kata. Peters began teaching the kids’ classes at the Baltimore Judo Club in 1990. At a January 1994 USJF Teacher’s Clinic he received his first Teacher’s Certification and has been a certified teacher ever since then.

Peters got his black belt in 1994 and is now a sandan, or third-degree black belt, in Judo. He also maintains the Baltimore Judo Club and Maryland Judo, Inc. Web pages and publishes a monthly newsletter about Judo in Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic States. “There is nothing better than the expression on the face of a student, who has worked hard to learn a technique, when he performs it beautifully and effortlessly for the first time,” he says.

Ronald Burton Zumba and Dance Instructor Baltimore Martial Arts

Ronald Burton

Ronald Burton Zumba & Dance Instructor

Ronald Burton started his career in dance at the age of fifteen, with a three-year scholarship at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. While at this institution, he studied Ballet, Jazz, Authentic Jazz, Horton, Graham and Dunham technique. In furthering his dance career, and multi-cultural interests, he sought other dance opportunities by working with Afro-Brazilian, Haitian, Caribbean, Latin and African Dance companies, while fulfilling another appointed scholarship at Clark Center for the Performing Arts also in New York City.

Ronald’s performances include neo-classical South Indian theatre, vaudeville cabaret, avant-garde dance theatre, stadium and arena events and is a certified Zumba instructor. He formerly served as a Visiting Instructor in Dance and African American Studies at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, and currently is an adjunct in World Dance/Jazz at Howard Community College.

“I appreciate what Zumba is doing in the world of dance/fitness. Where else can I teach many different styles of dance in one class. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of international dance, but what makes it all worthwhile is the response from students who never thought they could dance.”
“Zumba has created a social community in group fitness by eliminating individual competition and creating a “global prom” full of vitality, laughter and fun!” – Ron

Noel Smith, Brazilian Ju-Jitsu Instructor

Noel Smith began his study of martial arts at 10 years of age. He received a brown belt at age the age of 13 in Shotokan Karate. He continued to study karate till he joined the military in 1992. Noel then spent 4 years in the Navy as a Corpsman stationed at Camp Pendleton with 3rd Battalion 1st Marines.

In October of 1998 Noel met Roberto Marques DaSilva (AKA Maguilla). Maguilla at the time was a 4th degree Black Belt under Andre “Dede” Pederneiras in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Noel trained with Maguilla and received his Brown Belt in 2006.

His introduction into Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has changed Noel’s life forever. He now trains as a brown belt under Renato Tavares.

Karen Clendenin, Yoga instructor – 200-hour RYT

Karen joined the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy in May 2010. Her personal yoga journey started in 1999, when she walked into her first yoga class at a gym in San Francisco. Karen trained in San Francisco for seven years in various styles of yoga (Bikram, Ashtanga and Hatha) before deciding to become a yoga teacher. She recently completed 200 hours of teacher training to register with Yoga Alliance®. Karen teaches a Vinyasa flow (breath-synchronized to movement), fitness-style yoga with a focus on building flexibility and strength. She teaches yoga throughout the Baltimore area.

During the day, Karen works as an Executive Assistant at a downtown accounting firm. She holds a Bachelors degree in Social Work from Buffalo State College.

Karen lives in Baltimore City with her husband, Jamie and their two dogs, Max and Lucy.

Kung Fu Instructor – Sifu Mark Umholtz

Mark Umholtz – Kung Fu Instructor

Sifu Mark Umholtz teaches Tien Shan Pai Kung at the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy. Sifu Mark has learned under several notable kung fu masters which include Anthony Goh, Rick Wheatley & Grand Master Huang Chien-Liang. Sifu Mark teaches in a way that makes complex maneuvers look easy and fun to learn.

Naomi Placella – Pilates Instructor:

Naomi Placella received her formal dance training from Caryl Maxwell/Classical Ballet in Ellicott City, Maryland. She danced professionally for five years in New York City and Canada.  Her achievements include the three seasons with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Moving Out Canadian tour and numerous freelance roles.  As an actress, Naomi has appeared in films, television and theater. For two years she helped manage one of the largest and most famous dance studios in the country: Steps on Broadway.  An established fine artist and jewelry designer, Naomi’s work has been displayed in numerous venues in Maryland and New York, and currently at the Women’s Industrial Exchange in Baltimore.

Naomi graduated from University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in Graphic Design.  She has been teaching dance to youth and adults for over eight years. Naomi holds certification from Power Pilates in both Beginner and Intermediate Pilates Mat.  She is also a certified New York City Ballet Workout instructor.  Currently, she is pursuing a degree in medicine.

Carly Zumba Instructor

Zumba Instructor Carly

Carly Bucher- Zumba Instructor

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania and fell in love with the city life, so in June of 2010 I decided to move to Baltimore City. Fitness has always been a big part of my life and a huge passion of mine. In early 2008 I discovered Zumba and fell in love with it right away; so in December of 2008 I decided to become a certified instructor. I love Zumba because it combines my biggest passions in life: fitness, music, and dance; and it makes me feel great when I can share that with everyone else. I am currently attending school in Baltimore to become a physical therapist assistant, and I am also studying to become a personal trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. I plan on continuing my career in fitness and I am very excited to see what the future brings.


Steve Thomas, Head Tai Chi Instructor

Sifu Thomas has been involved in the martial arts for over 25 years. He holds a black sash in Ho Chen Pai, Tien shen pai, and Hua Mountain Kung fu. Indoor student of Master Luping Zhang for thirteen years where he studied Tan Tui, Hua Mountain Kung fu, Shaolin Kung fu, Ba Gua, Xing Yi, Yang Tai Chi Chuan and Chen Tai Chi Chuan. He also has experience in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

Sifu Thomas currently studies old frame chen village chen style Tai Chi chuan under renowned Master Wang Haijun (China’s three year national push hands champion). Sifu Thomas is the winner of six gold metals in Tai Chi Push Hands and was recently elected into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2005.

Master Thomas teaches the intricate movements of four chen tai chi chuan forms along with the martial applications, self defense, chi kung, developing full body power, push hands, sensitivity drills, two person fighting application drills and weapons.

Ann Marie – Zumba Instructor

Zumba Instructor Baltimore Martial Arts

Ann Marie

Anne-Marie was born in France and is originally from the archipelago of Cape-Verde, an ex-Portuguese colony on the west coast of Africa. Her classes reflect her culture and upbringing… African drums, as well as Latin rhythms run through her veins… Participants will enjoy the fun atmosphere of regular Zumba classes with a particular emphasis on Afro-Brazilian dances which targets the lower body.

Ronnie Russel, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

Ronnie RusselRonnie Russell understands that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu can be difficult for beginners. He remembers vividly his first day of training many years ago: He worked out so hard that day that he went in the back room and threw up. “I remember everything — the smell of the school and the difficulty I had getting my body to move the right way,” he says, laughing.

These days, he moves like a cat — or, if he’s got you in a choke, a python. Ronnie earned his purple belt under Pedro Sauer, and he teaches Jiu-Jitsu to both adults and kids — often teaching or training five to seven days a week.

Ronnie’s structured classes tend to emphasize the basic fundamental aspects of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He drills his students on the basic holds, chokes, arm bars, escapes, and other techniques that start to build the foundation of good, technical Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Rickson Gracie

“I love teaching,” he says. “You learn so much from it — from slowing down the techniques and being there in service to the student. I want to give them every detail and make sure that they are training the right way.”

His devotion to the Gracie style of Jiu-Jitsu is so pervasive that he even follows a strict diet advocated by the Gracie family: The diet involves combining certain types of healthy foods and spacing the meals properly, along with prohibiting pork, alcohol, and drugs.

Heart disease runs in his family, and yet he has managed to stay healthy through the diet and through regular exercise on the mat. “I’ve seen a huge difference in my health and my training,” he says. “My family history made me want to follow a different path — to live a happy, stress-free, empowering life.”

Marcelo Garcia BJJ Champion

Marcelo Garcia

So much has changed since that first day he walked into the club. Early on, he says, he used to train like a maniac — fighting roughly, without good technique. “I heard Professor Sauer say, People don’t want to come to the dojo to fight, people want to come to the dojo to train Jiu-Jitsu,” Ronnie says. “There is a big difference. Now, I don’t come to the dojo to fight — I come to the dojo to train Jiu-Jitsu, and through that, to feel good about myself and to have fun.”

See Ronnie demonstrate some Jiu-Jitsu techniques in the video below:


Tomas Drgon

Tomas Drgon, Judo Instructor

Tomas Drgon teaches Judo for adults and children at the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy. He first started learning judo when he was around 10 years old in Bratislava, Slovakia. “Here in America, kids wrestle,” he says. “In Slovakia, it’s judo.”

After he came to the United States, he started training with Sensei John Anderson. He was struck by the Sensei Anderson’s quiet confidence and easygoing personality from the beginning — qualities that he has tried to maintain as a teacher at the Baltimore Judo Club, part of the BMAA.

“It was different from most gyms you walk in and talk to the main guy — there is always some pushing” and some ego, he says. When he talked to Anderson, “from the first moment it’s like you’ve known him forever. He’s joking and he’s really relaxed.”

Tomas Drgon has been teaching judo for several years now at the Baltimore Judo Club, and like John Anderson before him, he has focused especially on judo’s newaza, or ground techniques. He has also taught judo throwing techniques at various other jiu-jitsu clubs in the Baltimore area — a few years ago, he was teaching up to five days a week at four different clubs.

“That’s when I got much better. I had to wrestle everyone,” he says. Today Sensei Drgon teaches primarily at the Baltimore Judo Club, and the students include his own son, Mattias, in the kids’ classes. “It’s very important that kids tumble around and so they don’t get scared when they bump heads,” he says. “If they wrestle in a gym, it’s perfect — it makes it into a game.”

A biologist at the National Institutes of Health, Sensei Drgon sees judo as much training for the mind as for the body. The sport itself is often compared to chess, with attacks and counterattacks. But the founder, Jigaro Kano, was also interested in the public welfare. “Judo has this idealistic philosophy — the public education aspect,” Sensei Drgon says. “That appeals to me. And then the club has this long history — a lot of really good judoka came through this club.”

He also gets inspiration from judo elders who have been active in the Mid-Atlantic region for more than 50 years — like John Anderson, James Takemori, and Edwin Takemori.

“You look at these guys who have been doing it for a long time, and they all have this life attitude that I really admire,” he says. “That is something to imitate.”


Yolanda - Zumba Instructor

Yolanda Holmes – Zumba Instructor at Baltimore Martial Arts in Catonsville

Yolanda Holmes – Zumba Instructor

Hi, I am Yolanda Holmes and I love teaching Zumba Fitness classes. The reason is simple: Every class feels like a party! I took in my first ZUMBA® Fitness class in 2011 and I was instantly hooked.

The Latin influence and international zest makes every class feel like a party! Like most ZUMBA® instructors and class participants, I have had no formal dance training.

I strive to make my classes fun and exciting! I appreciate the opportunity to introduce people of all ages and abilities to a great fitness program they can look forward to, ultimately improving their health, well being and quality of life.

I am thrilled to be teaching ZUMBA® Fitness classes and I am sincerely committed to improving my skills as an instructor by continuing training and education to create the best experience possible for all class participants.

I am currently licensed to teach ZUMBA® Basic Levels 1. I am a member of the Zumba Instructor Network and I am basic First Aid and CPR/AED certified

chris aitken tae kwon do instructor baltimore martial arts

Chris Aitken on WBAL TV channel 11 Baltimore Maryland.

“Chris grew up watching Bruce Lee movies and wishing he was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. The love of martial arts grew as he did, and at 10 he began attending Taekwondo classes at Kim’s Karate. Chris received his black belt from Master Joe Coceras, and at 17 began teaching part-time at another Kim’s Karate location in Glen Burnie, MD. He joined the BMAA staff in late 2010 as an assistant instructor, and was promoted to head instructor in January 2011.

Michael Johnson, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Instructor

Mike Johnson

BJJ Instructor Officer Mike Johnson

When you ask Mike Johnson why Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is important to him, he gives a straightforward answer.

“I’m a police officer,” he says. “In 13 years as a police officer, every fight that I have gotten into has always gone to the ground. And in every situation I have had, I have always been able to control them with Jiu-Jitsu.”

Mike has been training in the martial arts for more than 20 years, starting in Tang Soo Do and later in kickboxing, with which he competed and won trophies. But on the streets, he says, he avoids the striking techniques that could hurt a suspect or even himself (through an open wound or a broken hand). “All the kickboxing and traditional martial arts that I have studied I have never used, but the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu I have used every single time,” he says. “I have never been hurt, and I have never had a suspect hurt. So it truly is the gentle art.”

Mike began learning Shingi Tai Jiu-Jitsu in the 1990s. But in 2001 he started training in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and eventually he found Pedro Sauer, who is still his instructor. Mike earned his brown belt under Professor Sauer. He has also been certified as a Law Enforcement G.R.A.P.L.E. Instructor by Rorion Gracie, and he continues to teach police recruits grappling techniques. He says he loves that job for the ways that it can empower the smaller officers; their eyes light up when he demonstrates techniques that can control a bigger opponent.

But his love for Jiu-Jitsu, he says, has not just led to fighting prowess; it has also helped him grow personally, emotionally. “One of the biggest lessons that I have taken from Jiu-Jitsu is having to be patient,” he says. As an officer, he gets put in a lot of stressful situations, and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu has taught him how to remain calm and focused. “I have found that sense of calm and patience has carried over into my personal life and to my professional life as a police officer. When we go into a domestic call or a fight call, which are stressful situations for police officers, you have to be able to escalate and de-escalate your force.”

Of course, rolling around on the mat with a strong opponent has its thrills, too. “It’s like a form of human chess,” Mike says. “It’s one of the few sports where you can go full contact and still not hurt your training partner or get hurt yourself. It’s a good workout, and you can never get enough and you can never learn enough. It’s always changing, and you just grow along with it.”

Mike’s certifications include:

  • ASP Instructor
  • LVNR Instructor
  • MPCTC Defensive Tactics Instructor
  • Force Training Division Krav Maga Instructor
  • MPCTC Firearms Instructor
  • MPCTC Enhanced Instructor
  • NSPA Personal Trainer
  • RKC Instructor
  • Cooper Institute Law Enforcement Fitness Specialist
  • G.R.A.P.L.E. Instructor

Ever seeking to expand his skill set beyond Taekwondo, Chris has studied Haidong Gumdo for 4 years with Grandmaster Seok H. Yoon in Delaware, 2 years of Krav Maga under certified black belt instructor Jeff Mount in Owings Mills, MD, and attended various workshops and classes in MMA, kickboxing, and self-defense. His main foci are breaking techniques and conditioning training.

Chris also holds several academic honors including a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, a Master of Science in Applied Information Technology, and a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Database Management Systems. His goal is to complete Doctoral degrees in both Psychology and Higher Education; and to open an accredited, degree-granting College of Martial Arts in the USA.

Athea Zumba Catonsville

Athea – Zumba Instructor

Athea is a certified Zumba instructor and can be seen teaching Zumba around the Baltimore and Baltimore Metropolitan area. Athea is excited to share her teaching style with our members.

Sue Rexford, Kickboxing Instructor & Certified Personal Trainer

Sue began her training under Sensei Gary Berger in 2000. She won a bronze medal in an international Kuoshu Full Contact Kickboxing tournament in July 2002. She was a kickboxing instructor at the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy from the Summer of 2004 through the Summer of 2010. Sue has returned to Baltimore Martial Arts and will now be teaching kickboxing classes on Thursday evenings 6:30-7:30PM.

Sue is a student and practitioner of the techniques and methods pioneered by Athlete’s Performance, an internationally-renowned training program frequented by Division I college and professional athletes. Sue also incorporates Kettlebells into her persoanl training and is HKC certified. Since 2004, Sue has trained clients out of the Collosseum Gym in Columbia, Maryland and also recently began working at Coreworks in Maple Lawn.

Sue has been a lifelong athlete herself. She ran track and sprinted in high school and played volleyball for the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She continues to compete at a high level in doubles volleyball in the sand.

Instructor Tae Kwon Do Baltimore

Zach Harting, Tae Kwon Do Instructor at the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy

Tae Kwon Do Instructor

Zach Harting began in Tae Kwon Do at the age of 11. He trained under Grand Master Ken Gemmill in Belair, MD. Zach earned his 3rd dan Black Belt in 2008. His training background includes a mixture of sport and traditional Tae Kwon Do. Zach has competed for years at the state and national level in Olympic style full contact sparring, forms as well as full contact Karate tournaments. Zach also cross trains in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, Thai Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts.

Wendy Brogden

Wendy – Zumba Instructor at Baltimore Martial Arts

Wendy Brogden is a licensed ZIN (Zumba Instructor Network) Member and Zumba instructor born and raised in Dundalk, Baltimore County, Maryland. She is licensed to teach Basic Zumba, Zumba Gold (Zumba for older, active adults) and Zumbatomic also known as Zumba Kids. Zumba combines her love for people, fitness and dance. A cheerleader since the age of 4 years old, after college, she has coached several local cheerleading squads including the Northwood Rams and the Middle River Renegades. After she became a mom, she coached little league baseball and has acted as Team Mom for her sons’ football teams. Additionally, she played slow pitch softball in both high school and college. She currently holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing. An avid fitness buff, she is currently studying for her group fitness certification with the nationally accredited, A.A.F.A. or Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. The certification will take her fitness career to another level of expertise.

When she is not teaching Zumba, she is a supervisor for Social Security Administration. She is the mother of three children (ages 14, 21 & 23 years old). Her daughter, Candace is scheduled to join her mother as a Zumba instructor and will become licensed in October. In August 2013, Wendy will become licensed to teach Zumba Sentao (Zumba Fitness with a chair) and Zumba Toning (Zumba Fitness with maraca-type weighted sticks). Wendy looks forward to working with her students by helping them to reach their fitness goals and will continue to cheer them on to victory.

Keith Burton Massage Therapist

Keith Burton

Keith Burton Massage Therapist

Keith Burton is a licensed massage therapist who specializes in massage for athletes in the martial arts and combat sports. His therapeutic massage can help rejuvenate sore, stiff, and overworked muscles and improve performance in serious athletes of all kinds. To schedule an appointment or talk about the benefits of massage, call Keith at (443) 680-8505 or send him an email.

Keith is a weightlifter and a practitioner of Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and MAA — so he understands martial artists and the punishment their bodies can take. In fact, he discovered massage after an debilitating ankle injury in judo. Massage was part of the physical therapy regimen during his recovery, and he experienced first-hand the power of this ancient therapy: In the time since, when he was getting massage and practicing judo, he never experienced another injury.

He was trained at the Central Maryland School of Massage, and he immediately focused on massage therapy for martial artists after licensure. Massage, he says, can bring a number of tangible benefits to all athletes:

  • If you stretch for greater flexibility, a massage therapist can help you get better results.
  • If you are injured, massage of soft tissues can shorten recovery time and help with pain.
  • If you work out, massage can decrease the time between workouts and loosen muscles.
  • If you want more power, massage removes muscle “knots,” which impede performance.

Keith offers various massage packages, depending on the needs of clients:

  • The Pre-Event Massage: This 15-minute massage is meant to prepare an athlete for competition or a workout, but never replaces a warm-up. The massage is upbeat and rhythmical, targeting the muscles the athlete will use in his or her sport. The massage moves joints through range of motion and eases tension in the body.
  • The Post-Event Massage: This 30-minute massage helps an athlete recover from a competition or workout, meant to alleviate stress from the event and create a psychological lift that prevents burnout. The massage targets the muscles the athlete used in his sport. The emphasis should be placed on calming down the nervous system and flushing techniques to help the body return to homeostasis, or equilibrium.
  • The Recovery Massage: This full-body massage can last 60 to 90 minutes. The recovery massage tends to be very slow, looking for sore, inflamed, and tender areas on the athlete. The goal is to help the body naturally speed up the recovery process.

Keith is a retired Baltimore City Firefighter. He has an A.A. degree in behavioral sciences from the Community College of Baltimore County and a B.S. in philosophy from Towson University.

To schedule an appointment or talk about the benefits of massage, call Keith at (443) 680-8505 or send him an email.

Benjamin Kassim

AKA Thumper – Benjamin Kassim – BMAA Boxing Instructor & Competitor

Benjamin Kassim is a New York City native who has spent most of his life traveling while serving in the US Army. As an infantry man, Benjamin has served overseas in Kuwait, Iraq and countless other countries.

Known as ‘Thumper’ on the All Army Boxing Team, in 2001-2004 he placed 1st in the military State Championships and 1st in an All Army National Tournament. Benjamin was introduced to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in 2010 and was hooked from that day forth. Benjamin is a Level 3 Combative instructor at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR). Benjamin assists in training soldiers at WRAIR as they prepare to head overseas and into hostile territories. Benjamin has won gold medals in BJJ tournaments such as the North American Grappling Association (NAGA), Extreme Combat BJJ and The Good Fight.

Benjamin is striving towards his dream to compete at the highest level and to continue to excel not only as a fighter but as an individual as well. Benjamin has been a part of the Baltimore Martial Arts Academy since 2012. Benjamin is BMAA’s Boxing instructor but can be seen helping out in other disciplines such as Kickboxing, MMA & BJJ.

Benjamin was introduced to BMAA by another coach and instructor, Walter Buford. Benjamin says, “My life would still be empty and lost with no fullfilment if it were not for the kindness, friendship and comradelry of Gary Berger, Steve Lord, Mike Johnson, Herb Severn, Walter Buford, Tenyeh Dixon, Charles Gamble, Brandon Johnson, Mihai Petisor, Corbin Pagano and many others who have been by my side from the moment I first arrived at BMAA They have been kind and compassionate towards my dreams and my goals and this to me is what’s its all about…They are my family..

Shihan Jim Thomas, Hanshi, Head Karate Instructor

Master Instructor (Shihan), James B. Thomas, Jr. past away in the Spring of 2015. He was an 8th degree black belt in Karate Do. He was also a 4th degree blackbelt in Tomiki Aikido and is the founder and head instructor of The Fudo Ren Ma Dojo.

Shihan Thomas began studying Nippon Kenpo Karate in 1964. He obtained his 4th degree black belt in Nippon Kenpo in 1974. He began teaching at the Metropolitan Boys Club in 1967. He also taught Nippon Kenpo for twenty years at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) in Washington DC. After he moved to Columbia, Maryland he began teaching there in 1986, at the request of a student who had originally trained with him at NRL.

Concurrent with his teaching, Shihan Thomas continued to receive instruction and improve his own technique under the instruction of Dr. Hiroyuki Hamada, Hanshi,Vice Ppresident of the Board Of Directors and Chair of the International and USA Division of Dai Nippon Butoku Kai (DBNK), a prestigious Japanese organization representing many different martial disciplines in Japan and throughout the world. Dr. Hamada is the official martial artist in residence and an instructor at the Old Dominion University in Virginia.

In 1999 Shihan Thomas earned an 8th degree black belt from Dr. Hamada, making him one of the highest ranking individuals in the USA Division of DBNK.

Shihan Thomas also earned a 4th degree black belt in Tomiki Aikido and had two years experience in Kenjitsu (Japanese sword art).

Shihan Thomas was granted the Title Hanshi in 2006.

Shihan Thomas has on numerous occasions traveled to Japan, Okinawa and the United Kingdom to represent the DNBK in various martial arts events.

Currently Shihan Thomas was the head instructor of the Fudo Ren Ma Dojo, Catonsville, Maryland and an adviser and assistant instructor of the Nippon Kenpo Karate Club at the Benning Stoddart Rec. center in Washington D.C.

Shihan Thomas was a dedicated martial artist whose interest was always towards the development of the entire person through the practice of the martial arts.

Renato Tavares Association

Renato Tavares BJJ ATT American Top Team

Renato Tavares American Top Team

Renato Tavares



Renato Tavares was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1968. He started training in BJJ at the age of 6 years old with Geni Rebello who is now 85 years old. Geni Rebello is one of the best masters in Brazil and he is a black belt from Carlos e Helio Gracie. Geni Rebello has made many students State, Pan-American and World Champions around the world.

Brazilian jiu jitsu

Jiu jitsu Master Renato Tavares

Renato Tavares is a world renowned authority in the discipline of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and Grappling Enhancement for MMA. His thirst for knowledge has made Renato a technician par excellence. Tavares has been training for about 36 years and competing for more than 30 years. At ten years old he was an instructor, helping his Master Geni Rebello and his son Cirilo Rebello teach new students.

In the last fifteen years he has made big changes in many cities and states that he has visited. In Parana, a state in the south of Brazil, he took Jiu Jitsu to the next step by making it recognized in the bjj community. In just three years Renato & Curitiba made the first world champions.

After training under Geni, Tavares moved to Rio and trained with Carlson Gracie Sr. for over 10 years. Renato currently teaches out of Vero Beach, Florida.

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