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Greatmats Annual National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award

2018 Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Nominations Start in Oct.

Congratulations to Erich Podbielski for being named the 2018 Greatmats National Martial Arts Instructor of the Year! Read about Erich and fellow 2018 Martial Arts Instructor of the Year finalist John Morgart Jr.


Want to honor a martial arts instructor for his/her outstanding achievements, unique style or humanitarian efforts? Then nominate him/her for the Annual 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 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 8,200 votes were cast in the first three 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. Each person is allowed one vote. 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

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


2017 Nominees

(Click on the name to see his/her nomination.)


Renshi Lennis Darby - MojuKai Karate-Kobudo - Enterprise


Master Ron Poholik - Pride Martial Arts - New Lenox


Master Chip McClellan - Legacy ATA - Topeka


David Younglove - USA Karate - Rosemount

New Jersey

Vic Teran - International TKD Academy - Jersey City

South Dakota

Robin Buckingham - Buckingham's Karate for Kids - Rapid City


Mike Tobin - Tobin's Elite Academy of Martial Arts - Clearfield


Robert Benton - World Martial Arts Academy - Muskego

Hanna Podbielski - Kettle Moraine YMCA - West Bend


2016 Nominees

Matt Stewart

Three Dragons Martial Arts Academy, Orlando, Florida

Eric Swick

Dragons Den Mixed Martial Arts, Grafton, West Virginia

Spencer Nolan

Gracie Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona

Ken Blumreich

AKF Athens Martial Arts, Athens, Georgia

Matt Larsen

Matt Larsen's Combat Fitness Academy, Springfield, Virginia

Bryant Harrell

High Point Neighborhood Family Center, Clearwater, Florida

Johnny Edwards

Hickory Grove PHC Jiu Jitsu, Candor NC

Doug Bedsaul

Downtown Martial Arts Academy, Starkville, Mississippi

Jae McIntosh

No Limit Jiu Jitsu, Starkville, Mississippi

Ian Jensen

Lake Country Martial Arts, Hartland, Wisconsin

Michael Tull

Champion Karate, Karate, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Jeremy Booth

Wolfpack Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Hamilton, Alabama

Larry Martin

Rhode Island Shotokan Karate, Providence, Rhode Island

Melvin Stewart

Westmoreland Family YMCA, Montross, Virginia

Aaron Wayne-Duke

Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts, Galesburg, Illinois

For more on this topic please review our Martial Arts Mats product page.