At Sun Dragon we study Seido karate. Sensei Graham trains under Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, the founder and creator of the World Seido Karate Organization, and his son, Nidaime Akira Nakamura.
Before Sensei Graham became head instructor, Sensei Joy Williamson led the school. Sensei Joy trained under Kaicho and Nidaime, but she also trained in Seido directly under Sei Shihan Nancy Lanoue of Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self Defense. Before joining the Seido organization, Sensei Joy trained in Kyokushin Karate under Sensei Suzanne Pinette, the founder of Sun Dragon Martial Arts & Self Defense. Sensei Joy has extensive training in Empowerment Self Defense and she continued Sensei Suzanne’s legacy of teaching the fundamental lesson that everyone has the right to defend themselves.
Sensei Suzanne’s primary art was Kyokushin Karate, but she studied broadly. She trained in T’ai Chi and Aikido and brought Arnis concepts into her dojo. As a founding member of the NWMAF, Sensei Suzanne was exposed to a wide variety of martial arts and was a leader in teaching Empowerment & Self Defense. For Sensei Suzanne, the “self defense” in her school’s name was more than just a minor adjunct, but really a coequal branch of learning. Sun Dragon was created as an all-women’s school, not only to give women a safe space to train in the martial arts, but also in order to give them a place to learn how to defend themselves.
The current instructors at Sun Dragon also have martial arts experience that reaches beyond Seido karate. Sensei Graham earned his third-degree black belt in the International Tang Soo Do Federation before joining Sun Dragon and training in Kyokushin. Senior Instructor Sensei KJ Scheib also dabbled in several different martial arts before earning her black belt in Kyokushin under Sensei Suzanne.
Sun Dragon is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization that works to prevent violence, promote health, and give adults, youth, and children in Austin tools they can use to protect themselves and approach the world from a strong and peaceful place. We can’t do this crucial work without you. A tax-deductible donation to Sun Dragon funds our scholarships and community programs, allowing anyone to access life transforming self-defense and martial arts instruction, regardless of income or personal finances. Create your sustaining membership today!See the 2020 Year in Review
Kickathon is our annual fundraiser! Donations help fund Sun Dragon’s scholarships and community outreach programs, making sure non-violent Seido karate and empowerment self defense are available to all, regardless of personal finances.In the weeks before the event, students engage in active fundraising to reach their personal financial and sponsorship goals. The day of the event, participants of different age levels get to complete their own kicking goals and participate in a community celebration. For some of us it’s our favorite day of the year!
Senpai Laura (she/her/hers) has been a friend of Sun Dragon since 2006, training here since 2008 and teaching since 2010. She has worked as Executive Director since July 2020, after holding the role of Program Director for four years. Besides leading the Little Dragons program and teaching 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 the National Women's Martial Arts Federation (NWMAF) and the Association of Women Martial Arts Instructors (AWMAI). Her wife KJ is a Seido yondan at Sun Dragon.
Sensei Graham (he/him/his) has been affiliated with Sun Dragon since 2000 and has taught here since 2007. He currently teaches primarily in our Youth and Adult karate programs. Sensei Graham earned his Seido shodan in 2009, nidan in 2011, sandan in 2013, and yondan in 2018. He has worked as Head Instructor since July 2020, after holding the role of Youth Program Coordinator since 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.
Coty (she/her/hers) has been involved with Sun Dragon since her children started training here in 2009. She is our Violence Prevention Program Coordinator and lead self-defense instructor. Coty discovered her interest in self-defense work after taking a workshop with Senpai Carmel Drewes, whom she trained under for many years. Sensei Joy Williamson was also influential in Coty's self-defense training. She has been a student of Seido karate since June 2019 and served on the Sun Dragon Board of Directors from 2011–2015. Coty is a Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) and teaches our Sunday yoga class.
Sensei KJ (she/her/hers) 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 has held the role of Senior Instructor since July 2020. She is a member of NWMAF and has also studied Judo, Kajukenbo, and Tai Chi. Her wife Laura is a Seido sandan and the Executive Director at Sun Dragon.
Senpai Vanessa (she/her/hers) 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. In her spare time, Senpai Vanessa is earning her certificate to become an Elementary School teacher.
Senpai Kitty (she/her/hers) has been involved with Sun Dragon since 2012, when her child joined the Little Dragons program. She began training in 2013 and teaching in 2016, earning her Seido shodan in 2018. Senpai Kitty currently teaches classes in the kids' and adult programs. She earned her black belt in Jung Sim Do in 1997, and took two semesters of Judo in college. When she is not in the dojo, Senpai Kitty loves to hike, make music with friends, and homeschool Quin, who is currently a Youth shodan.
President – Shilpa Kerkar
Secretary – Senpai Summer Cacciotti
Member – Josh Kimmell
Member – Lane Becker
Member – Senpai Max Benitez
Member – Katherine Gonzalez
Sun Dragon’s tax ID number (EIN) is 74-2671794.