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Annual National Striking Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award

2019 Striking Arts Instructor of the Year Voting Begins Nov. 14

Two karate instructors rose to the top of the standing after combining for more than 43,000 of the nearly 59,000 votes in the 2019 Greatmats National Striking Martial Arts Instructor of the Year award contest. Leo Liuzza, of Shinkyokushinkai Karate, and Jordan Diaz, of Shotokan Karate Academy, are the 2019 finalists for the annual award.

Congratulations to Leo Liuzza for being named the 2019 Greatmats National Striking Martial Arts Instructor of the Year!


Want to honor a striking 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. Starting in 2019, Greatmats is offering two martial arts instructor awards - one for those focusing on the striking arts and another for those with a primary focus on the grappling arts. Striking arts include, but are not limited to, Karate, Taekwondo, Boxing, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Capoeira and Krav Maga. The awards, 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 an instructor for this award, email the following information to or visit the contest page and fill out the online nomination form before Nov. 1, 2019. Nominators will not be identified.
  1. Instructor's Name
  2. Name and Location of the Martial Arts School (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 Nov. 14-Dec. 1, 2019 for the Annual National Striking Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Award. The two striking 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 in December 2019.
  3. National Striking Martial Arts Instructor of the Year Certificate

More than 94,500 votes have cast for martial arts instructors in their first four years as part of the 5th 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 Striking 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

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 - Judo, Taekwondo
2018 Martial Arts Instructor of the Year - Erich Podbielski - Taekwondo


Past Striking Martial Arts Instructor Nominees


Renshi Lennis Darby - MojuKai Karate-Kobudo - Enterprise (2017)
Jeremy Booth - Wolfpack Brazilian Jiu Jitsu - Hamilton (2016)


Manny Bujold - Agoura Hills World Champion Karate - Agoura Hills (2018)


Matt Stewart - Three Dragons Martial Arts Academy - Orlando (2016)
Bryant Harrell - High Point Neighborhood Family Center, Clearwater (2016)


Ken Blumreich - AKF Athens Martial Arts - Athens (2016)
Angie Wilson - Choi Kwang Do - Cartersville (2018)
Matt Pattillo - Master Pattillo Martial Arts School (2018)


Sterling Crawford - Treasure Valley Taekwondo - Nampa (2018)


Master Ron Poholik - Pride Martial Arts - New Lenox (2017)
Aaron Wayne-Duke - Galesburg Academy of Martial Arts - Galesburg (2016)


Brooke Harrington - iKick Martial Arts - Demotte (2018)


Master Chip McClellan - Legacy ATA - Topeka (2017)


Michael Tull - Champion Karate - Gaithersburg (2016)


Rita Pasquale - United Martial Arts Center - Danvers (2018)


David Younglove - USA Karate - Rosemount (2017)

MissouriAlex Arnall - Springfield Martial Arts Center - Springfield (2018)


Beverly Channer - Nebraska School of Martial Arts - Kearney (2018)

New Jersey

Vic Teran - International TKD Academy - Jersey City (2017, 2018)

New York

Shawnie Brown - American Family Karate - Elmira (2018)
Michael Dones - Madmic The Mechanic - Bushwick (2018)

North Carolina

Don Newell - The Martial Arts Training Institute - Charlotte (2018)


Duyane Ernst - Championship Martial Arts Academy - Milford (2018)
Jason Gehring - Mentor Martial Arts and Karate for Kids - Mentor (2018)


Alex Evers - Stillwater Martial Arts - Stillwater (2018)


Brock Genevro - Silver Dragon Martial Arts - Saint Mary's (2018)
John Morgart Jr. - Wei Son Do Martial Arts - Irwin (2018)

Rhode Island

Larry Martin - Rhode Island Shotokan Karate - Providence (2016)

South Dakota

Robin Buckingham - Buckingham's Karate for Kids - Rapid City (2017)


Mike Tobin - Tobin's Elite Academy of Martial Arts - Clearfield (2017)


Bob Nuttall - Karate University - Weatherford (2018)
Dennis Livotto - The Woodlands Shotokan Karate - The Woodlands (2018)


Melvin Stewart - Westmoreland Family YMCA - Montross (2016)

West Virginia

Eric Swick - Dragon's Den Mixed Martial Arts - Grafton (2016)


Erich Podbielski - American Taekwondo West Bend/Kettle Moraine YMCA - West Bend (2018)
Robert Benton - World Martial Arts Academy - Muskego (2017)
Hanna Podbielski - Kettle Moraine YMCA - West Bend (2017)
Ian Jensen - Lake Country Martial Arts - Hartland (2016)

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