Mr. Steve Kroll started training with TIKK at the Richardson/Plano dojo in January 2002 at the age of 43 with his then 1st grade son, now himself a Sho-Dan. He began training directly with Hanshi Kristensen as a brown belt. He earned his Sho-Dan on August 28, 2010 at the summer Shiai at the age of 52 and was promoted to Ni-Dan on April 6, 2014. He continues to train at the main dojo.
Ms. Taylor Casale began her training in New Jersey in September 2001 with Jersey Judo Karate Academy and achieved the rank of Brown Belt. She moved to Plano, TX. in October 2006 and soon joined TIKK to begin her training with Soke Robert A. Kristensen. She received her Sho-Dan on April 10, 2011 and also received the Most Outstanding Female Karate-Ka of the 2011 Gasshuku. At the July 2014 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament she placed 2nd in kumite. On August 23, 2014, she earned the rank of Ni-Dan. At the 2016 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament she placed 3rd in kumite and 4th in weapons. She is the head instructor at the Frisco, TX. Dojo. She continues her training at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo.
Mr. Jim Wallander began his training with his 6 year old son, Allan, in the fall of 2002. He has 6 children, all very active in sports and all who trained in karate. Their experience in karate helped them to excel in their respective sports: football, baseball, gymnastics and cheer leading. His daughter Jessica is currently a Junior at the Air Force Academy who last gymnastic season set an Academy record 9.925 on vault as she became the regional champion. He has 2 sons still at home who continue their karate. Mr. Allan Wallander earned his Junior Black Belt at 13 and Sho-Dan at 16, the youngest ages for Black Belt advancement in Isshinryu Karate. Mr. Adam Wallander earned Sho-Dan on December 12, 2015. Mr. Wallander Helped start TIKK Sport training program at the Grapevine, Dojo. It is a combination of traditional Isshinryu Karate and highly focused sport conditioning. His goal is to help local student athletes develop to their highest potential so they are serious candidates for college scholarships in their selected sports. He enjoys competing in karate tournaments and has come in 1st and 2nd in numerous national and state tournaments. He earned his Sho-Dan on April 15, 2012 and his Ni-Dan on April 10, 2014.
Mr. Jovi Espinosa started training at the Coppell, TX. Dojo in May 2006 upon the encouragement of his daughter already a student. During his training as a kyu rank, he consistently finished in the Top 3 in local and inter-school tournaments. At the 2011 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament in Tennessee, he took 1st place in the Men’s Advanced kata and 4th in kumite. He was selected as the Senior Karate-Ka of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 when he shared the honors with Mrs. Van Winkle and then Brown Belt Mr. Steve Pergantis. On April 15, 2012 he earned the rank of Sho-Dan becoming the first Filipino student in TIKK history to achieve this status. On April 19, 2015 he earned the rank of Ni-Dan. Mr. Espinosa continues to train with Soke Robert A. Kristensen at the Grapevine, Dojo.
Mr. Johannes Kroll started training with TIKK at the Richardson/Plano dojo in January 2002 at the age of 6. On his 15th birthday, April 25, 2010, Mr. Kroll earned the rank of Sho-Dan Ho. Mr. Kroll went on to earn his Sho-Dan on August 27, 2011 and is the 3rd student in TIKK’s history to go through all the ranks to Sho-Dan. He is currently a member of the “Fightin’ Texas Aggies Corps of Cadets” and continues to train at the main dojo when he is home from school.
Mr. Dan Melendez started training with Texas Isshinryu Karate Kai as a White Belt in the summer of 2001 at the Denton, TX. Dojo. He is a licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) and is also a Certified Recovery Coach (RC) Trainer of Trainers. He has over 17 years experience volunteering and helping people with addictions to mood altering chemical substances through self-help groups, faith based and community organizations. his hobbies and interest include scuba diving, mountaineering, and outreach ministries. Mr. Melendez earned the rank of Sho-Dan on December 1, 2012. He continues his training at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo and co-instructs at the Plano, TX. Dojo.
Mrs. Kelli Marcella began her training in Isshinryu Karate at the age of 44 on February 14, 2007 with two of her three children. During her training she consistently placed in the Top 2 at local and national tournaments in both kata and kumite. She was named Most Outstanding Female Karate-Ka at the April 2010 Gasshuku and later that year was recognized by the Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) as Female Karate-ka of the Year. Mrs. Marcella earned her Sho-Dan on December 1, 2012 and continues her training at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo.
Mr. Ethan Shah Photo and bio coming soon.
Dr. L.B. Herbert began her martial arts training on January 5, 2008 at the Plano, TX. Dojo. At the 2008 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament in Knoxville, TN. she placed 3rd in Kata and 4th in Kumite. She was voted the Most Outstanding Female Karate-ka at both the 2012 & 2013 Gasshuku’s. In April 2011, she earned brown belt rank of Ichi-ban, which she held until December 12, 2015 when she earned the rank of Sho-Dan. Dr. Herbert continues her training and co-instructs at the Plano,TX. Dojo.
Mrs. Grace Murray began her training in June 2010 under Soke Robert Kristensen. In the Fall of 2011 she began her training under Sensei Kyle Murray at the Baylor Isshinryu Karate Club. At the 2012 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament she placed 1st in kata and 2nd in kumite. Mrs. Murray and Sensei Kyle Murray were married in their home town of Coppell, TX. In June, 2014 they welcomed their first child. Mrs. Murray continued her training throughout her pregnancy and was voted Most Outstanding Female Karate-ka at the 2014 Gasshuku. In September 2015, she co-founded the Trophy Club Dojo with Sensei Kyle Murray. She earned the rank of Sho-dan on December 12, 2015 with Dr. Herbert and Ms. Espinosa. Mrs. Murray is an instructor at the Coppell and Trophy Club Dojo’s and continues her training in Grapevine, TX.
Ms. Deanna Rupp photo and bio coming soon
Mr. Dan Bamper photo and bio coming soon
Mr. Luke Hutchinson achieved the rank of Sho-Dan on April 10, 2011 and on August 23, 2014 he earned the rank of Ni-Dan. Mr. Hutchinson continues his training at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo and is an Assistant Instructor with Sensei Dickey at the East Plano Dojo.
Mr. Joey Marcella began his karate training in September 2004 at the age of 40 with his son. During his training as a Brown Belt, he placed in the Top 3 in the 2010 and 2011 Men’s Advanced Ranks Division for kata. He was selected as the Outstanding Male Karate-Ka for the 2011 Gasshuku. He and his son were the first Father and Son combination to earn their Sho-Dan rank in TIKK history on August 27, 2011. At the July 2014 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament he placed 3rd in kata. He earned the rank of Ni-Dan on August 23, 2014. He continues to train at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo.
Mrs. Dianne Van Winkle began training in May 2005 with one of her three children. This inspired her other two children to begin their training as well. During her training, Mrs. Van Winkle placed in the Top 2 in both kata and kumite competitions beginning in 2006. As an Ik-Kyu she placed 3rd in kata at the 2011 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament in Tennessee. She was the 2011 Senior Karate-Ka of the Year along with Mr. Jovi Espinosa and then Brown Belt Mr. Steve Pergantis. She earned her Sho-Dan on April 15, 2012 and earned the rank of Ni-Dan on April 19, 2015. She co-instructs at the Flower Mound dojo and continues to train at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo.
Mr. Erik R. Soto began his training in Isshinryu Karate with Sensei Chuck Maynard in July 2006 and continued his teaching for about 1 1/2 years until Sensei Maynard retired. He continued training under Mr. Dennis Przybyla and began teaching at the Nevada Isshinryu Karate Kai Boys and Girls Club Dojo when he received the rank of Ik-Kyu. He earned the rank of Sho-Dan on April 15, 2012. On April 19, 2015, Mr. Soto was promoted to the rank of Ni-Dan. He is the head instructor at the Nevada Isshinryu Karate Kai.
Mr. Steve Pergantis began his training at the urging of his son Jack in January 2003. At the 2007 Isshinryu World Karate Association (IWKA) Tournament he placed 3rd in kata and kumite. Along with Mrs. Van Winkle and Mr. Espinosa, he was jointly named Karate-Ka of the year in 2011. Adhering to the dojo kun of “Continue your training with patience”, he attained the rank of Sho-Dan on December 1, 2012. Along with his daughter Brynn, he trains at the Grapevine, TX. Dojo.
Mr. Albert Solares began his training under Mr. and Mrs. Renshi Palos in February 2009.
Mr. Steve Sumners began training on April 9, 2009 under Renshi Tony and Tina Palos at the Denton, TX. Dojo. As a Yellow Belt he was honored with the Spirit of Isshinryu Award for his work on the Kai website by Soke Robert A. Kristensen. At the 2012 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournament in Knoxville, TN. he placed 3rd in kata. He has consistently been a Top 3 competitor in school tournaments in kata and kumite. On April 19, 2015 he earned the rank of Sho-dan and was honored as the most Outstanding Karate-ka at the 2015 Gasshuku. He is a Desert Storm Veteran and retired from the United States Army with over 20 years of service. He is the first combat veteran since Renshi Tommy Thomas in 2000 to go from White Belt to Black Belt. Mr. Sumners continues his training at the Denton, TX. Dojo.
Ms. Aisha Espinosa Photo and bio coming soon.
Ms. Espinosa earned the rank of Sho-dan on December 12, 2015. Her and her father became the first Father and Daughter to become black belts in TIKK history.
Mr. Lee Stafki began his martial arts career in Isshinryu Karate in 1987 at the dojo at New Mexico Military Institute (NMMI), Roswell, New Mexico. Mr. Stafki studied under Sensei Ann Stacy in Master Angi Ueza’s organization. In 1988, Mr. Stafki also began studying Aikido under Sensei Stacy in Master Karl Gies’ organization. Mr. Stafki earned his Sho-Dan is Isshinryu in December of 1992. He earned his Sho-Dan in Aikido in May of 1993, the same day he graduated from NMMI and was commissioned as an Officer in the United States Army. After graduating from NMMI, Mr. Stafki moved to the Dallas/Ft Worth area where he worked in law enforcement, completed an undergraduate degree from the University of North Texas and then entered Active Duty in the Army. Mr. Stafki continued formal training in Aikido and sustained his training in Isshinryu by training in various dojos worldwide during his career in the Army. In 1999, he earned his Ni-Dan in Aikido. In 1999, Mr. Stafki began training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu through the Army and by 2002, he had earned his level 3 instructor certification. In 2005, he had to temporarily stop martial arts training due to injuries sustained in combat during a tour in Iraq. In February 2006, Mr. Stafki retired from the US Army and moved back to the Dallas/Ft Worth Area. In May of 2014, Mr. Stafki resumed training in Isshinryu again in the TIKK, Denton Dojo under Renshi Tony and Tina Palos. Finally, in December 2015, Mr. Stafki was formally accepted into the Texas Isshinryu Karate Kai. In addition to Isshinryu, Aikido and Jiu-Jitsu, Mr. Stafki has also informally studied Judo, Hopkido, Taekwondo, and Kenjutsu. Mr Stafki is married to Mrs. Chelsey Stafki and they have 3 children, Kaitlyn, Alexander and Sean. His two sons also study Isshinryu Karate in TIKK.
Mr. Fabricio Velez started his karate training in middle school at a Shotokan dojo in Guayaquil, Ecuador. After a long break he started training at a local martial arts school in Flower Mound, TX in 2009. In the Fall of 2010, Mr. Velez met Sensei Wiederkehr’s husband at their children’s soccer practice and after learning about TIKK via Sensei Wiederkehr he began training at TIKK in January 2011 at the Flower Mound, TX Dojo. Mr. Velez competed and placed in the 2011, 2012, and 2015 Isshinryu Hall of Fame (IHOF) Tournaments. Mr. Velez and his children (Luis and Adriana) have been training under Soke Robert Kristensen, Kyoshi Maria Kristensen, and Sensei Wiederkehr. On April 10, 2016 he earned the rank of Sho-Dan at the 2016 Gasshuku. Mr. Velez continue his training at the Grapevine, TX Dojo.
Mr. Grant Dennis photo and bio coming soon
Mr. Mark Schneider began his Karate training in Isshinryu in 2002 at the Randolph Karate Academy in Randolph, New Jersey under Mr. Joseph Cicero. Mr. Schneider continued to train until 2005 when a job change required him to relocate to Louisiana forcing him to suspend his training as there were no Isshinryu schools locally. Upon relocating to the Dallas, TX. area with his family in 2010, Mr. Schneider resumed his Isshinryu training (with his teenage daughter Lauren) at the Plano Dojo under Senseis Harper & Hendrix. Mr. Schneider was voted the Outstanding Male Karate-Ka at the 2016 Gasshuku. He was also voted the 2016 Male Karate-Ka of the year at the December, 2016 Shiai. Mr. Schneider earned the rank of Shodan on April 23rd 2017, at the 2017 Gasshuku and Shiai. Mr. Schneider continues to train at the Plano Dojo where he also serves as an assistant instructor.