Sensei Joy Williamson, stuff Executive Director & Head Instructor

Sensei Joy started training at Sun Dragon since 1995; she earned her Kyokushin black belt in 2000. She took over as Head Instructor at the request of Sun Dragon founder Sensei Suzanne Pinette when she retired in 2004. She teaches Seido karate and Empowerment Self Defense to adults, discount teens, and and children. Sensei Joy currently trains with Sei Shihan Nancy Lanoue and Jun Shihan Sarah Ludden at Thousand Waves in Chicago. She earned her Seido shodan in 2007, nidan in 2009, sandan in 2012, and yondan in 2016. She is a member of the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) and the Association of Women Martial Artists (AWMAI). Sensei Joy holds national certification as a self-defense instructor through NWMAF.

Senpai Laura Hayden, Program Director

Laura_knife defenseSenpai Laura has been a friend of Sun Dragon since 2006, training here since 2008 and teaching since 2010. She has worked as Program Director since January 2016. Senpai Laura earned her Seido shodan in 2013, her nidan in 2016, and is a member of NWMAF and AWMAI. Her partner KJ is a Seido sandan at Sun Dragon. Senpai Laura designs the Sun Dragon calendar every year and you can often see her with her camera on the sidelines of classes or promotions hoping to get that perfect picture.

Senpai KJ Scheib, Instructor

Senpai KJ has been training at Sun Dragon since 1999 and teaching here since 2001. She currently teaches classes for new and advanced-rank adults. Senpai KJ earned her Kyokushin black belt in 2004, her Seido shodan in 2007, nidan in 2010, and sandan in 2013. She is a member of the NWMAF and has also studied Judo, Kajukenbo, and Tai Chi. Her partner Laura is a Seido nidan at Sun Dragon.

Senpai Graham M. Smith, Instructor

Senpai Graham has been affiliated with Sun Dragon since 2000 and teaching here since 2007. He currently teaches primarily in our Juniors and Youth karate programs. Senpai Graham earned his Seido shodan in 2009, nidan in 2011, and sandan in 2013. He served on the Sun Dragon Board of Directors from 2005—2013. Senpai Graham achieved the rank of third degree black belt in Tang Soo Do and ran a school in North Carolina before he moved to Austin.

Senpai Susan “George” Schorn, Instructor

Senpai George has been training at Sun Dragon since 1999 and teaching since 2001. She has taught extensively in the adult karate programs and currently teaches self-defense to adults, youth, and children. Senpai George earned her Kyokushin black belt in 2002, her Seido shodan in 2007 and her nidan in 2011. She is a member of the NWMAF and writes about self defense and martial arts in her column for McSweeney’s Internet Tendency. Her memoir about training at Sun Dragon, titled Smile at Strangers, was published by Houghton-Mifflin in 2013. Senpai George’s daughter Lilly is an advanced brown belt in the Youth program.

Senpai Barbara Jones, Instructor

senpaibarbaraSenpai Barbara has been training at Sun Dragon since 2008 and teaching since 2010. She teaches in our children’s and youth karate programs and in our self defense program. Senpai Barbara earned her Seido shodan in 2010 and her nidan in 2013.  Prior to moving to Austin and joining Sun Dragon, Senpai Barbara achieved rank of nidan in Budokai karate in New York state and founded a self-defense program for women and children in 1989. Senpai Barbara’s daughter Rosalinda is a youth shodan. Barbara is Assistant Dean for Health Affairs and Associate Professor of Social Work at UT Austin, and also a member of NWMAF and AWMAI.

Senpai Doris Ann “DA” Newton, Instructor

dorisann-268x300Senpai DA has been training at Sun Dragon since 2002. She currently assists in Juniors, Youth, and Girls classes. She earned her Seido shodan in 2010 and nidan in 2013. Her daughter Leila and her husband Bart are both Seido nidans at Sun Dragon.

Senpai Leila Willis Newton, Instructor

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 8.54.53 PMSenpai Leila started training at Sun Dragon, with her brother and her mom, when she was six years old. She is an assistant teacher in Girls, Juniors, and Youth classes. She earned the rank of Seido youth shodan in 2009, adult shodan in 2011, and nidan in 2015. Both of her parents are Sun Dragon black belts (she outranks her dad).

Senpai Summer Cacciotti, Instructor

Senpai Summer has been training at Sun Dragon since 2007. She earned her Seido shodan in 2012 and nidan in 2015. She assists in classes for new and advanced adults and is a substitute lead instructor in those classes. Her partner Janice is a green belt at Sun Dragon. Senpai Summer has previous experience with Filipino knife and stick fighting, as well as Kendo. She is currently Secretary of the Sun Dragon Board of Directors. Senpai Summer enjoys writing about her experiences training in karate and, oddly enough, sweeping the floor after class.

Senpai Vanessa Martinez, Instructor

SenpaVanessa2015i Vanessa has been training at Sun Dragon since 2010 and teaching since 2011. She primarily assists in Little Dragons, Juniors, and Youth classes. Senpai Vanessa earned her Seido shodan in 2015.

Coty DeLacretraz, Self Defense Instructor

CotyCoty has been involved with Sun Dragon since her children started training here in 2009. Coty is an assistant instructor in the self-defense program and serves on the Sun Dragon board of directors. Coty is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200). Her children both still train in the Sun Dragon Youth program where her son Quincy is a youth black belt and her daughter Audrey is a brown belt.