Sensei Joy Williamson, 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, teens, 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
Senpai 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. Besides leading the Little Dragons program and teaching in all levels of the kids’ Seido Karate program, Senpai Laura also teaches self defense. She earned her Seido shodan in 2013, her nidan in 2016, and is a member of NWMAF and AWMAI. Her wife KJ is a Seido yondan 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.
Sensei KJ Scheib, Instructor
Sensei KJ has been training at Sun Dragon since 1999 and teaching here since 2001. She currently teaches classes for new and advanced-rank adults. Sensei KJ earned her Kyokushin black belt in 2004, her Seido shodan in 2007, nidan in 2010, sandan in 2013, and yondan in 2018. She is a member of the NWMAF and has also studied Judo, Kajukenbo, and Tai Chi. Her wife Laura is a Seido nidan at Sun Dragon.
Sensei Graham M. Smith, Instructor
Sensei 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. Sensei Graham earned his Seido shodan in 2009, nidan in 2011, sandan in 2013, and yondan in 2018. He served on the Sun Dragon Board of Directors from 2005—2013. Sensei 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 Barbara Jones, Instructor
Senpai Barbara has been training at Sun Dragon since 2008 and teaching since 2010. She is a substitute instructor in our children’s and youth karate programs and assists in our self defense program. Senpai Barbara earned her Seido shodan in 2010, her nidan in 2013, and her sandan in 2017. 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
Senpai 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, her nidan in 2013, and her sandan in 2017. Her daughter Leila and her husband Bart are both Seido nidans at Sun Dragon.
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 a youth black belt.
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 is a substitute instructor in classes for adults. Her wife Janice is a brown belt at Sun Dragon. Senpai Summer has previous experience with Filipino knife and stick fighting, as well as Kendo. Senpai Summer enjoys writing about her experiences training in karate and, oddly enough, sweeping the floor after class.
Senpai Vanessa Martinez, Instructor
Senpai 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 and her nidan in 2018.
Coty DeLacretaz, Self Defense and Yoga Instructor
Coty 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 has served on the Sun Dragon board of directors. Coty is also a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200) who teaches our Sunday yoga class. Her children both still train in the Sun Dragon Youth program where her son Quincy is a youth nidan and her daughter Audrey is a youth black belt.