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2018 Greatmats National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year

Vote for the martial arts instructor you think should be named the 2018 Greatmats National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year!

Voting runs Nov. 15-29, 2018

Agoura Hills world champion karate

Aiki Academy

American Family Karate

American Taekwondo West Bend/Kettle Moraine YMCA

Championship Martial Arts Academy

Choi Kwang Do

Grey Jiu Jitsu

Ikick Martial Arts

International Taekwon-Do Academy

Karate University

Madmic Thw Mechanic

Master Pattillo Martial Arts School

Mentor Martial Arts and Karate for Kids

Nebraska School of Martial Arts

Silver Dragon Martial Arts

Springfield Martial Arts Center

Stillwater Martial Arts

The Martial Arts Training Institute

The Woodlands Shotokan Karate

Treasure Valley Taekwondo

United Martial Arts Center

Wei Son Do Martial Arts

Agoura Hills world champion karate

April 2018

Agoura Hills, CA

Mr. Manny Bujold promoting a student. He is always giving the students life lessons. It's more than just learning karate. Its about building champions for life. Mr. Bujold's love for teaching and the Martial Arts is evident the second you meet him. He loves helping his students become the best version of themselves.
2 Votes

Aiki Academy

10/10/18

Boise, Idaho

Brent Williams teaches Aikido two nights a week at the downtown Boise, Idaho YMCA as a volunteer. Thats right, he volunteers his time to teach Aikido to any interested students and he does not charge a cent. He works with each student that comes and tries to help them understand and develop. I can not imagine any other instructor demonstrating service, integrity, and quality more than he does.
7 Votes

American Family Karate

9/26/18

Elmira, New York

I am nominating her because of her strong desire to help her students learn more than just karate. It is vitally important to her that they also learn integrity, leadership, respect and more. When she is focusing on self-defense and anti-bullying for women and children she talks about more than just skills, she talks about awareness and how to respond but verbally and physically. She makes a strong effort for her school to be involved in the community and continually encourages student and parent volunteering at various events.

Bio:

Sensei Goday Shawnie Brown, a 5th Degree Black Belt, started Soryu Karate training in 1996 with Master Jeff Bonugli. In 1998 as a purple belt, Mrs. Brown won the Black Belt continuous sparring division at Houston’s Karate Olympics. By the end of 1998, she was ranked (NBL/SKIL) the #1 Black Belt fighter in Texas, #3 in Mexico and #5 in the U.S.A. Her dominance of Texas continued for 2 years until, in February 2000, she became pregnant with her first child. She continued to teach and train during this period.

Shawnie has a passion for teaching women, children, and teens karate, self-defense, leadership, integrity, and self-confidence.

Shawnie opened her first school, Alamo Family Karate in San Antonio on January 3rd, 2001. She received her 1st Dan Black Belt in February 2002 with her husband and baby girl watching and cheering her on. Most of her original students still train to this day. In November of 2003 Shawnie & her husband, Tom had another daughter and again she taught and trained throughout her pregnancy.

Shawnie taught in San Antonio, Texas until June 2007 when she and her family moved to upstate New York to open her 2nd school, American Family Karate. She was inducted to the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2007 for Female Martial Artist of the Year. Shawnie has expanded her training by beginning to learn BJJ in 2016. Shawnie is very thankful to Master Bonugli for his instruction and support through the years. Shawnie continues to teach, train, and learn and received her 5th Dan Black Belt in Soryu Karate on July 10, 2017.

As a dojo, she has run many free Women’s Self-Defense classes and Anti-Bullying programs. Recently they raised almost $5,000 for Kids Kicking Cancer and $1,500 for the Neighborhood Transformation Center, a local non-profit. Her students work hard training and have done very well in local and regional tournaments taking home multiple individual and team trophies. Shawnie has recently started to promote her own tournament, Twin Tiers Martial Arts Championship. The first tournament in 2018 had over 140 competitors and was very well received by the martial arts community. And the next one is scheduled for March 30, 2019.

In addition to karate and family, she is a certified instructor for the NRA for the Refuse to Be A Victim Course, is active in her community as a Board Chair for a local non-profit, is the worship leader for her church where she sings and plays guitar. Shawnie also plays guitar as the leader of her own band.

178 Votes

American Taekwondo West Bend/Kettle Moraine YMCA

10-31-18

West Bend, WI

I would like to nominate Erich Podbielski, of American Taekwondo West Bend/Kettle Moraine YMCA for the Martial Arts Instructor of the Year. He is the head instructor at that location and he also does some instructing at American Taekwondo Hartford, as well as being the main instructor for Hapkido in all of the American Taekwondo Center locations. He volunteers all of his time because of his passion for Taekwondo, and he has been a volunteer instructor for over ten years. He has bought a large amount of equipment for the students out of his own money. He has put in place an assistant instructor/ leadership program at the West Bend location. He has developed the location into a thriving school. He has brought excitement to the learning of Taekwondo for the students, and he has created many drills and techniques that instill taekwondo basics in a fun way. He has created goal sheets for each of his students that he updates and shares each testing cycle. He also coaches the the students at tournaments, and then creates “team building” activities, like going out for ice cream, Star Wars Days, Marvel Days, and holiday parties for the students. The students look up to him as a role model. He continues his own martial arts training daily. He is constantly searching for more knowledge of the art and of the sport. He also supports his sister, an AAU two time National medal award winner. He trains with her and helps her develop herself into the best martial artist that she can be. Additionally, he has held many forms clinics. He has done all of this while attending college pursuing his Master’s degree and Bachelor’s degree combined in only four years. He is a member of Alpha Chi and Sigma Beta Delta, both collegiate National Honor Societies. He has maintained a perfect 4.0 through out all of college. He epitomizes respect, honor, and passion and lives the five tenets of Taekwondo daily. He is an inspiration to all of his students, and he embodies what it means to not only be a good martial artist, but a good person. I strongly recommend Erich Podbielski as Martial Arts Instructor of the Year.
1025 Votes

Championship Martial Arts Academy

10-30-18

Milford, Ohio

I am nominating Master Duyane Ernst of Championship Martial Arts Academy for the Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award. Championship Martial Arts Academy is located in Milford, Ohio; and was opened by Master Ernst over ten years ago. Master Ernst holds black belts in multiple arts, and teaches Taekwondo, Hapkido, and Kickboxing programs regularly at our academy. He is a constant presence and is always looking to help each and every student improve themselves. As a law enforcement officer outside of the school, Master Ernst is always bringing real world problems and solutions into his classes, making for a more grounded, practical class with basis on real self defense tactics that he himself may use on a daily basis. His knowledge of the arts is vast, and he can create a fun environment for every student without sacrificing their learning, so that each student is not only learning, but having a lot of fun all the while. Between bringing real world scenarios into class, teaching a wide variety of martial arts styles, and being wholly dedicated to the improvement of every single student to be the best version of themselves possible, Master Ernst is an invaluable part of our academy, and the true centerpiece on which it depends.
42 Votes

Choi Kwang Do

9/19/18

Cartersville, Georgia

Mrs. Angie Wilson is one of the hardest working also caring instructors I have met. She loves her students.

Mrs. Wilson is always willing to show you how to do something when u have any questions on a move or pattern. She always listens to your concerns and adapts or tells u why and the ways she does something.

She works full time and still always finds time to teach and support her students, plan events and support the instructor team.

She is an amazing person with a fun and live personality and is also a phenomenal instructor. She loves what she does and shows it to not only her students but to all the children, adult, as well as parents that attend this establishment. Nominating her was a no brainer.

685 Votes

Grey Jiu Jitsu

9/26/18

Houghton Lake, Michigan

I would like to nominate Crystal Baetz. She is the best instructor. She is a mother of a beautiful daughter, active military firefighter and works at the local 911 dispatch. She opened the Grey Jiu Jitsu for her daughter and other kids to learn the art of jiu jitsu. She is a great role model for girls and boys alike. She has be an inspiration to me and my family. If anyone deserves it, its her. Thank you very much.
33 Votes

Ikick Martial Arts

10-25-18

Demotte, IN

Three-time world champion Brooke Harrington perfectly exemplifies excellence in the Martial Arts. This year, she led three of her students to the the Martial Arts World Championships in Athens, Greece. Her focus on setting goals and working towards them is obvious. She is a supportive coach, willing to push her students and stick up for them. She's fuled by the satisfaction of seeing the confidence that grows in her students.
0 Votes

International Taekwon-Do Academy

9/24/18

Jersey City, New Jersey

Master Victor Teran is a dedicated Instructor that brings his martial experience and time as a US Marine to the benefit of all his students. He trains very hard and demands the best from his students, but does it with a level of caring and compassion not found in many instructors.
79 Votes

Karate University

2018

Weatherford, Tx

Bob Nuttall doing what he loves by equiping future leaders in self defense, discipline, character as well as respect. He is an exceptional man of honor that really enjoys what he does. He's loved by a multitude people people and has affected such a multitude of lives over the years in a powerful way. I believe he deserves this honor because he not only educates people about self defense but you learn so much more being in his classes. He gets on your level and your not just a student but your family.
84 Votes

Madmic Thw Mechanic

10/01/2018

Bushwick, NY

A picture of Sifu Michael Dones and some of the students. We are all a family and help each other as such. Most of us have come from some troubling pasts, and he has helped us through more than he can ever know. Even when we were willing to give him our last dollar to learn from him, he taught us anyway and gave the money back to our families.
1 Vote

Master Pattillo Martial Arts School

9/27/2018

Winder, GA

What can I say about Master Matt Pattillo ... other than he is a kind and understanding human being. He helps and motivates his students in all areas of their strengths. He is very enthusiastic about life and the lives of his students and family's. Master Pattillo is a fifth degree black belt. My daughter and husband both go and take karate together and train under Master Pattillo. My daughter is 5 yrs old and currently an orange belt, and my husband is a brown with black stripe and is currently training to obtain his black belt with Master Pattillo. So with this being said I would like to nominate Master Pattillo for all his work, passion, enthusiasm, towards his dojo and his students.
158 Votes

Mentor Martial Arts and Karate for Kids

July 13, 2018

Mentor, Ohio

Senior Master Jason Gehring has been in my life for 11 years and everyday I learn more from him than I do from anyone else. He doesn’t just teach me karate, but self confidence, commitment, and passion for things you love. He has made not only me a better person, but the 300+ students in our karate school. I appreciate his ability to help anyone and the care he has for everything.
308 Votes

Nebraska School of Martial Arts

10-31-18

Kearney, NE

Chief Instructor, Beverly Channer, is one of the most impressive people and dedicated martial arts leaders whom I have had a privilege to meet and learn from. Channer has a 7th Dan TaeKwonDo, 4th Dan Shinja Buku Ryu Kenpo Karate, and 1st Degree Black Belt in To Shin Do. Beyond her knowledge, skills, and 20+ experience in martial arts her enthusiasm, passion, and high standards for the art shows in her teaching and every day interactions. Since the day our family stepped into the Nebraska School of Martial Arts (NSMA) – through her leadership and instruction – she has made a positive impact in our lives and the lives of our fellow students. She offers insights, answers, suggestions, challenges, and opportunities for whatever her students are wanting to learn more about and seeks to continue her own training and development as well.

Demonstration of Service

Her service to the school, its students, and the overall community shows through her daily presence at the school as she aims to make sure that her students are doing well. In addition to her time at the school, her tireless efforts to share her knowledge and skills beyond the school and classes is demonstrated by her efforts in offering self-defense seminars for the community and even traveling to do so around the state. She has promoted martial arts to the community through the school’s demonstration team performances, and has continued to develop and implement new curriculum at NSMA. She also volunteers as a judge at the local and regional martial arts tournaments and has served as the Center Judge for the Cornhusker State Games / State Games of America Tournaments since 2013. In 2010 she received the SMAU Martial Arts Humanitarian Award.

Demonstration of Integrity and Quality

Her integrity and dedication for martial arts shows through her continued professional development. Working fulltime outside of the martial arts school she continues her own education and training through martial arts organizations and by earning ranks and certifications. Her most recent certifications include: certified defender instructor, certified instructor of Shinja Buke Ryu Kenpo Karate, and in 2017 she earned a SMAU Doctorate of Martial Arts Science. Her awards such as the SMAU Shinja Buke Ryu Kenpo Karate Black Belt of the Year in 2018 and the 2016 USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame TaeKwonDo Master of the Year, and the 2016 Kido Federation Outstanding Martial Arts Contribution awards. In addition, Channer’s memberships in professional martial arts organizations adds to the level of quality in her classes. She is a member of the Shinja Martial Arts University, the Red Scorpion Ninjutsu Society, Black Dragon Fighting Society, Sekai-Day-Han Martial Arts Federation BDFS/IFAA, and the Independent Warriors Association to name a few.

Channer takes the time to get to know her students and finds a way to teach and challenge her students aiming toward their improvement and development as martial artists. Her classes are one of a kind and her students always look forward to the next one! She provides continued guidance and support and is the heart of the martial arts school and the reason her students are there. For example, as an adult student, never having been exposed to martial arts, she encouraged me to step on the mat – it took 3 months, but I did it. Since that first day - beyond her class instruction - she has made a huge impact on my life by connecting me to other women in the martial arts community who now have become my friends and support group. She has encouraged me to continue learning and has offered and created opportunities customized to my skillsets such as suggested assignments and readings. Thus, I am thankful to her for opening my eyes to martial arts, but also because of her, I now have a home away from home at the martial arts school, new friends, and having been inspired by her passion to continue learning and developing as a martial artist.

I believe Channer is very deserving of the recognition and the award and with this would like to nominate Chief Instructor Beverly Channer for the Great Mats 2018 Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award.

217 Votes

Silver Dragon Martial Arts

June 2nd 2015

Saint Mary's, PA

My martial arts instructor Brock Genevro and I working escrima in the local Park I could never hope for a more patient and understanding teacher of martial arts
5 Votes

Springfield Martial Arts Center

10-31-18

Springfield, MO

Alex Arnall is a retired professional Muay Thai fighter who was ranked number 4 in the world when he retired in 2013. Since that time he has ranked to a third degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do and opened a school in Springfield with a fellow martial artist. He also works as a cutman for MMA fights. The school he co-owns is a non profit and all instructors are volunteers. The school has roughly 50 students and many are from low income families or from families that would not otherwise be able to offer their children martial arts experience. Springfield Martial Arts Center also supports the community through homeschool programs, a program through the city park board and many acts of community service. Alex has written a curriculum for the school to include the ITF original forms as well as his personal drills and training exercises. Teaching both Muay Thai and Tae Kwon Do he has helped his co-owners instill character building skills such as the Tenets of Tae Kwon Do and a student oath used by all that attend the school. He works well with all ages from preschool to adult and has made great strides with some of our students that have special needs including those those on the autism spectrum. Offering drop in community classes for self defense at an affordable price makes the program accessible and a benefit to the north side of Springfield.
194 Votes

Stillwater Martial Arts

August 2016

Stillwater, Oklahoma

This is a photo of 4th Degree Black Belt, Alex Evers. The article that this photo is promoting speaks about Alex's involvement in the community ranging from his 10+ school talks a year teaching focus and confidence as well as dealing with bullies, fundraising for our Stillwater Public Schools, being appointed to the Big Brothers Big Sisters board of directors, and teaching self-defense courses to social workers, college students, realtors, etc. Alex is a premier role model to our kids about how to be a community leader. He has won the Newspress Readers Choice Award for best martial arts studio 4 years in a row, operates a certified healthy Oklahoma business, been awarded Top 10 Emerging Leaders Under 40 for our town, and has recently been appointed to our Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. Alex loves volunteering his time in and out of our studio! He is always happy to help students expand their knowledge of martial arts after class or during a free off the book lesson. He participates in his students lives by attending their graduations, school presentations, and other events like boy scouts and 4H. He has been teaching martial arts for over 12 years. His students have grown and Alex has fostered the love of martial arts, which has resulted in two additional martial arts schools opening in nearby towns run by his students! His beliefs about how community incorporation is of utmost importance have been featured in Stillwater Living Magazine, the Stillwater Newspress, and Martial Arts Success magazine.
679 Votes

The Martial Arts Training Institute

10/22/18

Charlotte, NC

Sensei Don Newell is an amazing karate instructor. He holds a 5th degree black belt in Shoring Kemp Karate and a 1st degree black belt in Shoring Kobudo. He is highly qualified to teach his students and the training that he students received are of high quality (quality criteria). Sensei Newell cares deeply about his students, and he does not just teach them martial arts. He disciples them to be better people. On a personal level, my son started in his school in 2015, as a result of a low confidence level. Sensei Newell cares for my son and is always patient to him. He treats every student the same way - with love, care and concern. Sensei Newell is a man of high integrity (integrity criteria). He wants each student to succeed and as a result, he would hold extra practices outside of classes to help students gain confidence as they approach test dates. He is always encouraging and always has a smile on his face. It puts even the most timid student at ease immediately. I enjoy watching his interaction with his students. Besides teaching karate, the school also holds a toy drive for less privileged kids in the community (service criteria). As part of the training, students are encouraged to earn service hours by doing community service in their areas of influence. This is part of the training philosophy of the school - to serve the community. I cannot thank Sensei Newell enough for all that he has done. Today, my son has a first degree black belt and working towards his second degree. He enjoys his time at the school being an instructor assistant and meeting his personal (belt) goal. He is a different child than he was when he first joined the school. A lot of the positive changes can be attributed to Sensei Newell’s disciple-ing him. I know all parents who had gone through his school will say the same of him. I hope Sensei Newell wins the Greatmats Martial Arts Instructor of the Year because he definitely deserves it.
59 Votes

The Woodlands Shotokan Karate

10-31-18

The Woodlands, Texas

I would like to nominate Sensei Dennis Livotto, chief instructor of The Woodlands Shotokan Karate in The Woodlands, Texas, for Martial Arts Instructor of the Year. Sensei Dennis Livotto has never met a challenge he couldn't overcome. Despite having faced physical challenges, he devotes himself to teaching his students. He makes a drive of about 80 miles round trip several days each week to teach. He also mentors other instructors and makes regular visits to their dojos to offer them guidance and encouragement. Sensei Dennis works full time, then drives to the dojo rain or shine, and still gives 100% in every class, pushing us to be the best we can be. He sets an amazing example for his students of what it means to push through life's challenges and overcome life's obstacles.
1 Vote

Treasure Valley Taekwondo

10-31-18

Nampa, Idaho

Master Sterling Crawford is getting his students ready for the tournament. He always incorporates life lessons and talking to them about being the best person inside and outside of the classroom. He has built up confidence and given his students the tools to be good members of the community. They are held accountable. I couldn't be more impressed how master Crawford carries himself, teaches and loves with a great passion what he does.

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Master Sterling Crawford is highly proficient in Ryuku Kempo and Taekwondo. He is an engaging, skilled instructor with more than 15 years of experience under his belt. His never-failing positive attitude and inclusive nature attracts other high ranking masters in the area who come into his studio and in turn share their knowledge with the students. His unique style blends martial arts with Life Skills to develop the entire student, not just a standard martial artist. He has grown his school from a small room to a thriving community center that offers tutoring and counseling services.

95 Votes

United Martial Arts Center

6-7-14

Danvers, MA

I nominate Rita Pasquale, co-owner of United Martial Arts Center in Danvers, Massachusetts. Rita has set out encourage kids to be kind to others and learn empathy through Project Kindness - an initiative she and her husband, Anthony, started in 2005 where she led by example, completing the required 1,000 acts of kindness before she could earn her 3rd Degree Black Belt. In 2010 she switch focus to raising more the $80,000 for St. Jude. After her father's death last year, she brought back Project Kindness as part of her healing process. Students who complete at least 150 acts of kindness can earn awards such as medals, trophies or t-shirts. Through her students, Rita's Project Kindness initiative has spread throughout the community, including a local elementary school. She show's how one person doing the right thing can have a ripple effect that can take on a life of its own.
117 Votes

Wei Son Do Martial Arts

September 8, 2018

Irwin, Pennsylvania

Mr. John Morgart Jr. has obtained a 4th Degree Black Belt (Master) in the International Tang Soo Do Federation and is currently studying Chun Kuk Do under Sensei Steve Brown and Grandmaster Chuck Norris. In addition, he is in the process of creating his own martial arts system called Wei Son Do Martial Arts. The picture above is when John traveled to Utah this year to see Chuck Norris. I am a student under Sensei John Morgart. He is a strong leader and a great instructor. He taught me to be more respectful to others, to never give up on myself and my goals, be proud of who I am and to help others.

Some of Mr. John Morgart's accomplishments

Who's Who Among Outstanding Middle School Students Award

Inducted into the National Technical Honor Society at Central Westmoreland Career and Technology Center

Nominated for Pennsylvania's Trib Total Media Outstanding Young Citizen Award

Nominated for Martial Artist of the Year Award at the International Tang Soo Do Federation

An article in the Tae Kwon Do Times Magazine in September 2015

Included in the American Martial Arts Alliance Masters & Pioneers Who's Really Who in the martial arts Book

Inducted into the American Martial Arts Alliance Hall of Fame

Founder of Wei Son Do Martial Arts

1939 Votes

Want to honor a martial arts instructor for his/her outstanding achievements, unique style or humanitarian efforts? Then nominate him/her for the 2018 National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award, sponsored by Greatmats. The award, part of the annual Greatmats National Award Series, is designed to recognize martial arts instructors who have made a difference in the lives of their students and community through the virtues of service, integrity and quality.

Learn more about Greatmats National Award Series.

How to Nominate

To nominate the trainer for this award, visit the contest page or email the following information to brett@greatmats.com before Nov. 1, 2018. Nominators will not be identified.

  1. Instructor's Name
  2. Name and Location of the Martial Arts Academy (Must be located in the USA)
  3. A brief description of why you are nominating this instructor, including how he/she meets the criteria of high-level service, integrity and quality.
  4. A photo and/or video of the Instructor

How the winner is chosen:

  1. Voting will take place on the contest page from Nov. 15 through Nov. 29, 2018. The two martial arts instructors with the most votes will be named finalists.
  2. Greatmats will judge the two finalists to determine the winner based on:
    1. Demonstration of Service
    2. Demonstration of Integrity
    3. Demonstration of Quality

Grand Prize

  1. $250 in Greatmats Products (or $150 Cash Option) for the Academy
  2. Instructor/academy profile to be released with the announcement of the winner on Dec. 14, 2018.
  3. National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Certificate

More than 2,300 votes were cast in the first two years of the contest, which is part of the 4th Annual Greatmats National Award Series. The Greatmats National Award Series is designed to recognize instructors, trainers and coaches who have made a positive difference in their communities and the lives of their students.

Voting Instructions:

Visit Greatmats contest ballot page during the voting period to vote for this year's National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year. Click the vote button next to the photo of the Martial Arts Instructor you'd like to win. Feel free to share the gallery ballot with friends and family and encourage them to vote. The two martial arts instructors with the most votes will be named finalists. From that point, Greatmats will choose the winner (scroll down to see prizes) based on demonstration of service, integrity and quality.

Greatmats is a national martial arts flooring leader based in Milltown, Wisconsin, since 1999. Identified as one of the top 3,000 fastest growing companies in the USA three times since 2008, Greatmats gives back to its local community by donating 5% of its annual profits to local non-profit organizations. It also supports green initiatives through the use of solar energy at its Wisconsin headquarters and by offering a large variety of products made from recycled and renewable resources.

View all of Greatmats' martial arts flooring at http://www.greatmats.com/martial-arts-mats.php

This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

All media submissions, including text, photos and videos become property of Greatmats.

Read about previous winners of the award:

2016 National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Grandmaster Bryant Harrell

2017 National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Master Ron Poholik