A Note from our Head Instructor
I never meant to run a karate school. I love martial arts and love being a martial arts student. However, when I moved to Greeneville, TN, I discovered there was not a karate school that filled my needs. So I practiced on my own at the Y and in my driveway for about a year.
As a high school math teacher, I met students who wanted to take martial arts. Their problem was that they could not afford classes. Researching this, I discovered all schools cost $70-80/month and usually that was for one-two days a week. One school charged upwards of $100/month if you wanted to attend four days per week.
Given the poverty rate in this area, I decided I wanted to create an affordable martial arts class. I thought on it for a while, but one math student, D.W. Robinette, kept pushing me to start.
So I finally did. We started out at Glendale Community Center, where we had to move all the tables and chairs and sweep the garbage off the floor before we could work out, and of course put all the tables and chairs back at the end of the night. (We didn’t replace the garbage. LOL)
Then we shared space with another business for a year or so, and now we are an independent business, in our own building, but still charging less than any other school. At $50/month, we try to keep martial arts within the range of most people. We also offer a free family class on Saturdays where you never have to pay if that’s the only class you attend. You can read more about it on the Schedule page.
So, although I never meant to run a karate school, I found that I love what I do. I love watching students progress, and seeing them turn into fine people, as well as martial artists. I hope I can continue to do this for many years. And when I can’t, I feel lucky to not only have three black belt children, two sons and a daughter who can carry on for me, but up and coming students who have and will become black belts.
Thank you and Tang Soo!
Kyo Sah Nim Victoria Rivas
Kyo Sa Nim, 3rd dan
Kyo Sa Nim Victoria Rivas has three decades of Martial Arts training and holds black belts in three organizations, including a 3rd degree black belt (Sam Dan) in the TSDMA organization. She has trained in Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do and Kenpo. Her experience includes: Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance, under Grandmaster Garth Charland at the Charland Institute of Karate and Fitness in Watertown, CT and Grandmaster David Sgro of Fayetteville, NC of the San Kil Tang Soo Do.
Excel Martial Arts, under Master Andy D’Amato where she competed on the IPPONE tournament circuit and received 2nd place in forms and 2nd place in fighting in Senior Women Black Belt division in 2009.
Kyo Sa Nim, 2nd dan
Mr. Ian Turnage started studying the martial art of Tae Kwon Do at age 10 in Garland, TX under Mr. Tim Kirby, Mr. Billye “Jack” Jackson and Mr. Ray McCallum where he reached the rank of 1st degree black belt. He also competed in the Dallas area on the AOK circuit for many years and accumulated hundreds of trophies.
He also studied kickboxing under Master Larry Wheeler in Dallas and Jeet Kune Do in England. Wherever he traveled, he found a karate school to continue his training even if it was not his primary style. He cross-tested as a 1st degree black belt from Tae Kwon Do into Tang Soo Do and tested for his 2nd degree black belt in April 2018.
Kyo Sa Nim, 2nd Dan
Mr. William Etter started martial arts at age six. He earned his 2nd degree black belt in June 2017. His experience includes the following:
Tang Soo Do Masters Alliance under Grandmaster Garth Charland at the Charland Institute of Karate and Fitness in Watertown, CT where he earned his 1st degree black belt. He earned his 2nd degree black belt under the instuction of Grandmaster Charland.
Excel Martial Arts under Master Andy D’Amato for several years, and competed on the IPPONE tournament circuit where he received 3rd place in forms and 3rd place in fighting in Teen Boys 13-15 Advanced Belt division in 2009.
Yo Dan Ja, 1st Dan
Ms. Jennifer Grillo-Foster started studying martial arts with East TN Tang Soo Do in 2013, when we were part of Starz Academy, under our head instructor, Ms. Victoria Rivas, and Mr. William Etter. She now also trains with Mr. Ian Turnage at our studio and has trained with Master Garth Charland in CT and Master David Sgro in Fayetteville, NC.
Jennifer is an active competitor and has come home with medals and trophies in every tournament she has entered, including multiple first places at both Tang Soo Do and open tournaments. We were happy to welcome her to our teaching staff in April 2018.
Yo Dan Ja, 1st degree
Ms. Sarah Etter began her martial arts studies in 2001 with WTSDA under Master Robert Beaudoin at the Beaudoin Academy of Karate. She earned her WTSDA first degree black belt in September 2005.
Sarah has also studied under Master Andy D’Amato at Excel Martial Arts. She has recently cross-tested into TSDMA from WTSDA as a 1st degree black belt and is studying to attain her 2nd degree black belt.