Shihan Eric Swick – Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts

Hall-Of-Fame Martial Arts Instructor Changing Lives on Greatmats

By Brett Hart

A friend’s invitation to attend a martial arts class at the age of 12 changed Eric Swick’s life. Now 41, Swick is a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate-Do, 3rd degree black belt in Renzoku Jiu-Jitsu, 3rd degree black belt in Dragon Kenpo, 1st degree black belt in Judo and the owner of Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts academy in Grafton, West Virginia where he also trains in Kobudo and Arnis.

Dragons Den MMA Eric Swick Greatmats

Shihan Swick began his martial arts journey in 1988 under Sensei Dave Burner in Shotokan Karate, Aikido and Arnis and now includes Jiu-Jitsu and Kobudo into his primarily lineup of disciplines.

Real Life Experience

While martial artists train to be prepared for the unthinkable, most never need it. Unfortunately, he has, and it saved his life.

Ten years ago while working as a correctional officer in a United States Penitentiary, Swick was sucker punched by an inmate with a 7-inch shank and ended up being stabbed 13 times while trying to control the attack.

”If it wasn’t for God and my training, I do believe I would not be here today,” Swick said. ”The most horrific thing that I have ever seen is looking into another man’s eyes that was just a few inches away from me that really wanted to kill me. … There is no kind of training that can prepare you for that reality.”

Pushing Forward

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

The life-changing experience, inspired the Swick to focus more of his time and energy to helping others.

”You win, or you learn. You never lose,” he said. ”If you have the right attitude, there is no such thing as truly losing. Defeat, or losing, is only possible when you give up and quit. Defeat is a state of mind, not a reality. You, and only you, determine whether you lose or whether you had a temporary setback from which you learned more and became stronger. You do not play karate; you study it.”

In 2010, he was named to the Martial Arts Legend Hall of Fame and named the Sensei of the Year by the United States Black Belt Hall of Fame. He is also a two-time Hall of Fame instructor both Jiu-Jitsu and Karate and a Hall of Fame MMA instructor.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats

With all he’s accomplished, Swick says his biggest accomplishment is seeing his students become teachers of the arts, putting their martial arts training to work in the dojo and their everyday lives, overcoming their fears and becoming adults with success stories.

”I want my students to have the ‘I can, and I will’ attitude,” Swick said. That includes his wife and two kids, who train with him.

While Swick did not compete much early on, his academy has a successful competition team that competes at local tournaments as well as the USA-National Karate-do Federation and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).

Discovering Greatmats
Swick was impressed by the Greatmats martial arts flooring used at one tournament attended and looked up Greatmats on the web.

He soon ordered Greatmats’ Wood Grain/Black reversible Martial Arts Premium 1 Inch Karate Mats and loves the way they look and perform while enduring classes five days per week.

Dragons Den MMA Grafton West Virginia Greatmats Karate Mats

In 2015, Swick co-founded the Warriors United Tournament Circuit, a growing tournament point circuit open to all styles that includes competitors from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio.

”Tell you the truth, it’s just a great bunch of martial artists having a good time,” Swick said of Warriors United.

So happy with his Greatmats martial arts flooring, Swick and his Warriors United co-founders opted to equip each of their tournament rings with Greatmats flooring as well.

”They’re very tough, and the feel is great,” Swick said.

Warriors United Greatmats sponsored logo

Shihan Eric Swick
Dragon’s Den Mixed Martial Arts
http://www.dragonsdenmma.org
Grafton WV 26354

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Three Generations of Black Belts, Adamsons Building Karate Dynasty

Martial Arts Inspiring Story – Janice Adamson – Adamson Karate Studios

Adamson Karate Studios Janice Adamson Greatmats Karate MatsHello my name is Janice Adamson I am part of Adamson Karate Studios out of Indianapolis Indiana. Douglas Adamson is my husband.

We started our karate business in June of 1977. We bought out a bankrupt martial arts school on the south side of the city. It only took 6 months to turn it around, and we moved to a bigger location. We now serve the Indianapolis area with 7 locations!!

You might ask how we can man 7 locations? Well, when we started, it was just my husband and I. We raised 4 sons in the martial arts business. All of them became black belts as well as excellent instructors. Each one of us has a passion about what we do and and love to share this passion with the students we are lucky to have come in the door. Time has raced by and in that time our sons married well!! That is they are married to Black Belts as well.

Adamson Karate Studios instructors Greatmats Karate Mats

Everyone of us work in the family business. In 2015 we hired 3 of our grandchildren to also join in the business. My husband and I have 9 grandchildren; 7 are Black Belts; 2 are still too small too reach that level. There is no doubt that that will happen in the future though.

Adamson Karate Studios Janice Adamson Karate Family Greatmats Karate Mats

We have 3 state level tournaments every year as well as compete in AAU Karate. We have been in the top 3 schools at the AAU Nationals for the past 5 years.

Our students have traveled all over the world to compete. This summer we will travel to Ireland with a large team from Adamson Karate Studio. Over the years, we touched a lot of lives in very positive ways. Leadership is big with us; our students excel at it. I can’t imagine how many we have had over the years but I can say there weren’t too many that I wasn’t proud of.

Back in the late eighties we taught karate classes to kids as well as adults. Most Dojo owners back then only taught adults, thinking kids were not strong enough for the rigorous classes they would teach. Mostly they didn’t want to teach kids.

Adamson Karate Studios kids karate class Greatmats Karate Mats

Our children had to go to work with us. We couldn’t leave them home. We even had a class for them, and others came as well (from the group of adults who also had kids) took class in the dojo.

One day, we decided to have a kids karate tournament with small awards given. We advertised in the local paper. Little did we know who would read that add.

I was at work early one day and two men walked in and introduced themselves as being the representatives of Columbia Pictures! They had a idea to share with me. They had heard about the tournament we had just had and wanted to sponsor the next one we had because they wanted to brake in a new movie they were making ”The Karate Kid,” We did did the tournament as well as demos in every theater where it was showing in the Indianapolis area.

Our school grew so much from just this one visit from Columbia Pictures. We have tournaments each year since then. … We use Greatmats for all our tournaments as well as schools.

Adamson Karate Studios Black Belt testing Greatmats Karate Mats

Janice Adamson
Adamson Karate Studios
Zionsville IN 46077
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It’s Safety First at Brookings Tae Kwon Do

Taekwondo and Karate Blackbelt Equips Growing Academy with Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

By Brett Hart

After nearly 30 years of training in various forms of martial arts, Brookings Tae Kwon Do Head Instructor Mark Anawski has become an advocate for safety.

This fourth-degree American Kaeru-Do Karate (AKDK) black belt, Kukkiwan certified third-degree Tae Kwon Do Black Belt, and Songahm Taekwondo black belt has trained in both International Taekwon-Do Federation (ITF) and World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) styles as well as participating in boxing and football, so he knows a little about combat sports.

Brookings Taekwondo Class Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

A longtime law enforcement professional with more than 16 years of experience as a police officer and deputy sheriff in South Dakota, Mr. Anawski is certified in defensive tactics, pressure point control tactics, Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) and firearms and trains other law enforcement officers in many of these areas.

He admits that he didn’t always make the safest choices, but now understands just how important safety has become not only in combat sports but in life in general. He also draws upon his exercise science background, where he holds a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and started on a masters in exercise science and administration, to focus his instruction safe training practices.

”Everything in my life has been trying to be as safe as we can, because I wasn’t,” Anawski said. ”I need my athletes to be able to go to school the next day. I need my athletes to be able to go to work the next day.”

In 2010, he cut back on his law enforcement time to pursue his passion for martial arts and took over the Brookings Tae Kwon Do head instructor position from Masters Tom (6th degree) and Diane Buehr in August 2011.

Starting with just seven active students, Anawski followed Master Tom’s request to keep it traditional, but make Brookings Tae Kwon Do his own.

Brookings Taekwondo Academy Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

”I respect all the other martial arts,” Anawski said. ”I think they’re phenomenal. They’re beautiful. With my law enforcement background, I’m able to take applications from what I teach in taegeuk… (and apply it to) basic fundamental self defense.”

”I’m able to take applications that we teach law enforcement officers in real world situations and how to effectively stop that individual safely for you and for them. There’s no reason why you can’t take that same thought process and apply that to a citizen. … It all starts with being mentally prepared and being aware.”

Shortly after taking over the program, Anawski challenged his students to bring friends to classes. He also began to partner with the area Parks and Rec Department, middle school, daycares and home school programs for physical education classes and to teach about how to address bullying.

”I don’t believe you should ever not allow a student to train because he’s an introvert or he’s awkward or too noisy or he’s too wired up,” Anawski said. ”Martial arts can help them curb that.”

In the fall of 2012, Anawski also began to host open tournaments twice per year, that have drawn in upwards of 150 competitors from nine states as well as Canada. The first year, Anawski rented martial arts mats for his tournaments, and while the price was reasonable, he felt it would be worth investing in his own tournament mats.

Brookings Taekwondo Academy tournament Greatmats Martial Arts Mats

He contacted a couple of different mat companies to get samples of economically priced mats that would be good enough quality for use at tournaments. Under the recommendation of another academy owner, he eventually landed on Greatmats.com and requested samples from them as well.

The Greatmats samples arrived first and Anawski was sold on the 20 mm thick Pro Martial Arts Sport Mats on every level, saying Greatmats ”knocked it out of the park – grand slam – not just with pricing, but with shipping.”

”You’ve got Century and Kwon… I’m sure they’re good quality, but I’m not going to drop $1,000 to $1,200 on shipping alone. I’d rather take that money in the value of the mat or save my self that money if I can.”

Anawski partnered with another school in Minnesota, and the two academies purchased 400 of the 1×1 meter interlocking reversible mats – 200 red/blue mats for Brookings TKD and 200 black/gray mats for the other academy.

”It’s great,” Anawski said. ”Those mats – I can take them and travel with them. Take a stack in the back of my truck. It takes a few minutes to set up and take down. They’re lightweight. They’re perfect for that.”

If he needs a little extra padding for anything, Anawski said he just doubles up the the mats, and they work great.

And now, instead of renting mats, he’s able to rent out his mats for other area tournaments when he’s not using them.

Before Anawski knew it, Brookings Tae Kwon Do had grown to 50 students. In September of 2015, Anawski was visiting with a man who had trained in Shotokan karate, and he mentioned that he had his eye on a 5,300-square foot climate-controlled storage unit with the perfect location to turn into a dojang, but was concerned he wouldn’t be able to afford it. As it turned out, that man happened to own the building and was in the market of selling it to the right person for the right cause.

Impressed by what Anawski was doing in the community, the man determined he was that right person with the right cause and they came up with a price both men were comfortable with.

In February of this year, the school was ready for a space of its very own and Brookings TKD purchased the building, storage business and naming to it.

Anawski converted 3,000 square feet of the building into a training area and left the rest to continue operating as storage units.

”I’m not deserving of this,” Anawski said. ”I wasn’t the best kid in high school. We’ve been absolutely blessed with where we’re at and what we’ve grown to. We’re well over 100 students now.”

Once again, he was in the market for mats and checked back with Greatmats to see if it was still the place to go to get the best bang for his buck.

brookings-tkd-dojang

Indeed, it was, and he ordered just over 200 of the Martial Arts Karate Premium 1 inch thick mats in a reversible wooden/black color. The majority of the dojang floor utilizes the wood grain colored side of the tiles while the sparring zones are separated out with the black side.

”We wanted something that looks natural with our building,” Anawski said. ”It looks incredible. They’re so nice, and the transition colors that I love.”

Anawski was particularly impressed by the gray dense foam center having a thick black or thick wood surface color on the outside.

”Over time when things do start wearing out, we’re not going to fall into that gray,” Anawski said. ”The center grey density is fantastic. It is exactly what we need. I’ve been at different school with mats, and these mats are so comfortable and they clean so well. … From start to finish they’ve been fantastic.”

When not holding classes, Brookings TKD will occasionally host birthday parties on the mats.

”They hold up really well against stains,” Anawski said. ”We had Hi-C, red pop, on the mat and it cleaned up. Food… That was everywhere, and we wiped it up. That was fantastic.”

While he was updating his dojang flooring, Anawski also purchased four 4×10 foot by 2 inch thick folding gym mats to practice hapkido and judo throws.

”Those are incredible,” Anawksi said. ”For the price we paid, the value and the quality, they’re outstanding.”

Now, with the help of the Brookings, South Dakota, area community and Greatmats, Brookings Tae Kwon Do has seen exponential growth and has its very own ADA regulated dojang with a welcoming earth tone Asian American feel.

”We really wanted to create an opportunity for training for anyone,” Anawski said. ”The quality of the mats is beyond impressive. They were everything we wanted, and then some.”

Mark Anawski
Brookings Tae Kwon Do
Brookings SD 57006
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Lone Warrior Wegert is Driven to Become NBL World Champion

4th Degree Black Belt Hopes Third Time’s the Charm

By Brett Hart

It’s the third go ’round for 24-year old martial artist Tim Wegert in his quest for a National Blackbelt League world title. The American Freestyle Karate 4th-degree black belt competitor and instructor’s first two attempts were cut short due to ankle and ACL injuries, respectively, but his focus toward the goal of becoming a world champion has not wavered.

Tim Wegert Grand Champion Infinity National Championships Karate 2017 GreatmatsWegert recently traveled from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, to compete at the Greatmats-sponsored Infinity National Championships at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin and returned with two forms division championships and one grand championship title.

”I’m excited to be back in the circuit,” Wegert said.

While it’s challenging enough to accomplish such a feat at a national level, the test to Wegert’s dedication is ramped up to yet another level, considering he does it all on his own.

Tim Wegert handspring Infinity National Championships Karate 2017 Greatmats”I train myself entirely,” said Wegert, who instructs at his brother’s school, UpLevel Martial Arts. ”I don’t have anyone to train me here.”

Despite the challenge, Wegert placed first in Open Musical Forms and Limited Forms divisions and was second in choreographed musical forms before earning the Adult Contemporary Forms Grand Championship at 2017 Infinity National Championships May 12-13.

”I’ve always been a very competitive person,” Wegert said, noting that he’s also been successful in soccer and dance.

In fact, soccer was his first love. However, after competing in his first karate tournament as an orange belt, he reached a turning point where he transitioned to more karate and less soccer. He remembers thinking after that in-school tournament, ”Whoa! This is pretty cool. I could be pretty good at this. I could compete.”

Tim Wegert backflip Infinity National Championships Karate 2017 Greatmats

Family Inspired
Wegert began his martial arts journey 11 years ago when his father and a couple older brothers took some classes in Isshin-Ryu under heavy encouragement from his mother.

A couple of years later, Tim’s brother, Sam, borrowed money from their parents and purchased a school of his own at the age of 15.

When he took over the school and started teaching, that’s when the rest of the family started to support him as students.

By the time Tim graduated from high school at the age of 16, he was doing karate professionally full time. In fact, of the 10 members of his family, six are are now black belts, and four have turned karate into their full-time career. Sam now owns four UpLevel Martial Arts schools in Virginia and North Carolina.

Tim Wegert Infinity National Championships Karate 2017 Greatmats

Lofty Goals
Now with a NBL World Title in his sights, Tim is looking to expand not only his personal but is family martial arts legacy in his own right.

”I’ve been really good at a lot of things in my life, but I’ve never be the best at something at a competitive level,” Tim said. ”I really want to be able to say I did this, and I went all the way, and I came out on top.”

Part of that process is positioning himself as a favorite at the NBL World Games, which allows competitors to earn points through national and regional competitions as a form of seeding process.

“Whoever has the most points goes last in the division,” Tim said. ”Therefore, not only do the judges tend to see the better competitors last, but also it helps to go last as well.”

”I’m doing five tournaments before the world games,” he added.

Tim Wegert sidekick Infinity National Championships Karate 2017 GreatmatsThe Infinity National Championships was a big step in the right direction for Tim who said the venue was great and it was nice to go up against a lot of new competitors he had not seen before.

”They obviously have great schools up here with high levels of competition,” Tim said. ”It was neat meeting the Infinity people and competing against them.”

Keeping his eyes on his target, Tim Wegert is well on his way to achieving his goal of winning a world title.

”I appreciate the platform that the NBL and other tournament hosts have put into it… working towards a world title,” he said. ”It’s neat. It’s inspiring, and it’s fun to be a part of.”

Greatmats is the official mat supplier of the Infinity National Championships. Learn more about the Infinity National Championships and other Greatmats-sponsored martial arts events.

Tim Wegert
UpLevel Martial Arts
Charlottesville VA 22901
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2017 AKF Summer Tournament of Champions Recap

Vazquez youngest ever Grand Champion, Madrigal wins 4th Championship

Angelina Vazquez 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do GreatmatsThe 2017 American Kyuki-Do Federation Tournament of Champions was held on August 12 at the Eau Claire Indoor Sports Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The tournament had over 120 competitors from Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Georgia. Martial artists Angelina Vazquez and Reginald Madrigal emerged as the Black Belt Grand Champions.

Vazquez, of Geneva, Illinois, won the Under 18 Grand Championship and is the youngest black belt to achieve this honor. She trains under Mr. Chris Koffenberger.

Reginald Madrigal competing 2017 AKF Summer Tournament GreatmatsThe 18 and Over Grand Championship was claimed by Madrigal, of Elgin, Illinois, for the fourth time. He trains under Masters Jeff Kim and Rick Steainmaier.

Joe Moniot, of Lexington, Kentucky, brought 17 students with him to his final tournament before earning his Master distinction. Ms. Emily Brown of Oconee, Geroge, traveled the farthest to compete.

Ellie Murphy, from Lexington, was the winner of VIP pass to AKF’s annual Black Belt Extravaganza at Wisconsin Dells held November 3-5.

Nicole Holden, of Janesville, Wisconsin, and Chester Gustavson, of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, competed in their final tournament before advancing to 5th Dan (Master).

Joe Moniot 2017 AKF Summer Tournament Greatmats

The next American Kyuki-Do Federation tournament is the Grappling and Throwing Tournament at Bigfoot High School in Walworth, Wisconsin.

Federation members can register to compete at http://www.kyukidomartialarts.com.

Learn more about Greatmats-sponsored American Kyuki-Do Federation events and athletes.

Chester Gustavson 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do Greatmatssparring at 2017 AKF Summer Tournament kyuki-do Greatmats

2017 Summer Tournament of Champions
American Kyuki-Do Federation
Eau Claire WI 54701
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Drew McCurdy 4-Time AKF Grand Champion

Four Time Grand Champion Still Fond of ‘Firsts’

By Brett Hart

Drew McCurdy Amercian Kyuki-Do Federation Grand Champion GreatmatsBecoming a black belt has been a lifelong dream for Drew McCurdy, and in May of 2001, he began that journey when he walked in the doors of Kim’s Black Belt Academy in Elgin, Illinois.

”I thought a place with black belt in their name was a good place to start,” McCurdy said.

Now a third-degree black belt in Kyuki-Do, McCurdy has expanded his martial arts repertoire to include Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Jeet Kune Do and Kali techniques.

With years of training and a multitude of disciplines under his belt, McCurdy’s list of instructors is equally as long, including the likes of Rick Steinmaier, Jeff Kim, Rick Bjorquist, Christine Bjorquist, Chris Koffenberger, Lloyd Holden, John Canton, Reggie Madrigal and Yolanda Morales, among others.

McCurdy has been putting his training to good use at American Kyuki-Do Federation tournaments where he recently claimed his fourth Grand Champion title at the 2017 Spring Tournament of Champions.

”It’s an honor every time,” McCurdy said. ”I compete for my academy and the kids around Kyuki-do.”

Drew McCurdy Board Breaking Amercian Kyuki-Do Federation GreatmatsMcCurdy won both his sparring and breaking divisions while claiming second in forms and weapons, leaving it as no surprise that sparring and breaking are his favorite events.

”Sparring really tests some of the actual applications and techniques,” McCurdy said. ”There’s no substitute for knowing a mistake could cost you a shot to the head. Breaking really tests your physical and mental limitations as well, especially now that it’s at the end (of the tournament). Do you still have what it takes to break these boards after two hours of vigorous activity?”

The Area Director at Apex Fun Run For elementary schools in Illinois and Wisconsin, McCurdy currently does his martial arts training at Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin (formerly Kim’s Black Belt Academy) and Fusion Fitness MMA in Elgin.

With all he’s accomplished in the sport, McCurdy is still most proud of achieving his Kyuki-Do black belt.

”Looking back, I can’t believe the amount of work I put into it,” McCurdy said.

2016 AKF Spring Tournament kyuki-do Grand Champions GreatmatsIn similar respect, he views winning his first grand championship as one of his biggest achievements.

”It took quite a few tournaments before I achieved one,” he said. ”I almost thought it wouldn’t happen.”

Great competition from colleagues such as Nikki Holden, Reggie Madrigal and Joe Moniot help keep McCurdy motivated to continue competing.

”It’s about growth,” he said. ”There’s no animosity before or after.”

His passion for martial arts has also rubbed off on his family. His wife is now a brown stripe and his oldest child, Devin, is a 5-year-old red belt in Pre-Kyuki-Do.

”My two-year-old doesn’t currently train, but in her mind, she is a 12th Dan Master!” he added. ”Kyukido family is real – not just a saying. If I want to go hard and train hard with adults, I can do that. If I want to my kids to learn discipline self defense and a host of other qualities, I can give them that. If I want to train as a family, I can do that. There are a lot of places where you can only get one of those things.”

”I’d like to thank Greatmats for their continued sponsorship of the tournaments,” he said. ”The word is still out on Eau Claire (Summer Tournament of Champions) for me, but I will see if I can make it to Nikki Holden’s last tournament before master. Plus the competition in Eau Claire is always awesome!”

Learn more about the American Kyuki-Do Federation events and athletes.

Drew McCurdy
Kyuki-Do Martial Arts of Elgin
Elgin IL
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Infinity National Champion Zoe Brown

14-Year-Old Karateka Sweeps Divisions, Grand Championships

By Brett Hart

Zoe Brown Infinity Nationals Karate 2017 GreatmatsAttending kinder dance class at the age of three opened the door to a passion in Karate for 14-year-old Zoe Brown of Ontario, Canada, who recently won Grand Championships in both Junior Japanese Forms and Junior Korean Forms at the Greatmats-sponsored Infinity National Championships in Wisconsin Dells, WI.

The junior black belt member of Team Infinity also won her divisions in creative forms, creative weapons, traditional weapons and sparring, making it a clean sweep in the two-day event.

This success is nothing new to the martial arts phenom, who has been competing for eight years and currently competes twice per month.

Zoe Brown Karate GreatmatsLast year, Brown won both the National Blackbelt League (NBL) and North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) overall title for point fighting.

The Infinity National Championships impressed the seasoned competitor as much she did the judges.

”I love the location and the competition that is there, and also that it is run so well,” Brown said of the tournament held at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center. ”The Grands trophies are really cool too.”

The seed for Brown’s martial arts career was planted at the age of three when she had to walk past a karate school on her way to kinder dance class in the same building.

Zoe Brown 2016 Super Grands Greatmats”Every time we walked by the karate school to go to dance I would want to stop and watch the karate kids through the window,” Brown said. ”They always looked like they were having so much fun. One day my Mom and I went in and she signed me up, and that was it for dance.”

Brown currently trains under the instruction of Casey and Trevor Nash at United Family Martial Arts in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, as well as privately with Keith Weston.

”I love the training and the friendships and the constant learning,” Brown said.

Zoe Brown and Casey Nash Team Infinity Karate Greatmats”I’m very thankful to have coaches that push me, motivate me and believe in me. So, I’d like to thank Mike Welch (Infinity Martial Arts founder), Keith Weston and Trevor and Casey Nash. They are amazing!”

Greatmats is the official mat supplier of the Infinity National Championships. Learn more about the Infinity National Championships and other Greatmats-sponsored martial arts events.

Zoe Brown 2015 World Karate Championships GreatmatsZoe Brown
United Family Martial Arts
Hamilton Ontario
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