Shidoshi Grant Bannister (shidoshi meaning, stable and independant leader) started his training in Martial Arts in 1974 under the San Chi Kai Karate group led by Shihan Mal Lomax. Shihan Grant has spent most of his adult life teaching karate for the benefit of his students of which many have gone on to their own successes in the field both national and international. It is said that Shidoshi Grant Bannister is responsible for changing the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of students through his caring and articulate approach to martial arts and its profound effect that it has on the community when taugh correctly.
Committed to the spirit of the martial way, Steve personally trains three days a week. He first took to Kyokushin in his early teens, and returned later in life, grading for his Black Belt in December 2018. Having traveled the journey of training to Black Belt level, and guided by the examples of some great sensai like his Shihan, Barry Johnson, Steve enjoys the process of passing on his training to others who are also committed to the martial way.
Fariborz Azhakh is a muti martial art practitioner and industry leader. In his own words - Every black belt remembers the time when martial arts became a passion. It happened to me at age eight. My brother took me to see a Bruce Lee movie, and to this day I can close my eyes and feel the emotion that overwhelmed me as I watched the screen. At that moment I totally fell in love with the power of martial arts, but it would be many years before I found the physical and spiritual paths to black belt. Once I began that journey, however, the martial arts and the art of teaching became central element of my life. Bruce Lee gave me inspiration, but the following years were filled with frustration because there were no martial art schools near my home. I finally realized my dreams when I moved to California and had the great fortune to enter Steve Sexton's Hapkido school in Canoga Park. Through Steve's selfless guidance I achieved black belt in 1981 and I became an assistant instructor at the school. In those early years I viewed instructing as a sideline while I remained focused on my personal training. With time and maturity I grew nearer to the spiritual and philosophical center of the martial arts and I began to realize the tremendous personal rewards of teaching. After some months of uncertainty, I decided to completely redefine and reshape my life, and at Steve Sexton's urging, I took on the role of school owner and became a professional instructor of Hapkido. I named my school "Team Karate Center" because I became devoted to the idea that the instructors and the students should work together, as a team, so that each student can find and create their "individual art" within the traditions of Hapkido. I believe that no matter what individual qualities a student has - natural talents or special challenges - there is profound value in the martial arts for everyone. Consequently, the elementary principles at our school are centered on the teamwork required for all of us - teacher, instructor, student and parent (for our younger students) - to identify and advance this value. Currently, the school follows a multi-cultural approach that is grounded in function and usefulness. In the basic program we focus on traditional physical skills, and we stress the development of individual responsibility and core character strengths. Advanced students are introduced to an extension of Hapkido that I call Blend. From the very early years my training was based on the concept of "thinking outside the box." I evolved Blend, in this way, to move from style-based techniques to versatile, range-based frameworks. This combines Hapkido with certain aspects of Brazilian and Japanese Jujitsu, American Boxing, Wing Chun and the Filipino arts. Over the past 20 years my physical and spiritual advancements have been influenced by many remarkable people. I have had the cherished privilege of studying with Grand Master Ji Han Jae. I am, and will always be, indebted to Master Steve Sexton and I continue to extend my personal growth with the generosity of David Meyers (grappling) and Ron Balicki (Filipino martial arts: trapping, stick and knife techniques). As a teacher, I have always viewed learning as a fun and rewarding experience. I look to this philosophy, within the discipline and tradition of Hapkido, to inspire and motivate the students and the assistant instructors at our school, and I offer the multi-faceted challenge of Blend to give advanced students a contemporary martial art that is filled with unique insight and reward. "The martial arts training process is a powerful life-defining interpersonal experience that gets to the heart of the matter. It is your opportunity to alter your capacities to accomplish and to stand powerfully as the gift that you are and the difference that you make."
Shihan George Kolovos is one of Australia's most influential martial artist leaders. He commenced his martial arts career in the Kyokushin discipline of Karate in 1975. George trained at the then head quarters of Kyokushin Karate, he swiftly progressed through the ranks, obtaining a black belt in two and a half years, a process which ordinarily takes at least 5 years. By this time George had felt it necessary to create his own centre focused solely to martial arts. He had several styles of martial arts in his arsenal and various national titles for both Kyokushin Karate and Kickboxing. From humble beginnings renting a room at Melbourne City Baths, Melbourne Martial Arts now operates as an internationally renowned independent training organisation. In 2004 George brought Muay Thai into Melbourne by running fight night promotions called Brute Force. Fighters from across Europe, China, Thailand and Japan have all competed in his shows. In 2014 George and other leading Victorian promoters of the combat sport industry created what is now the only Amateur Association in Victoria called VAMAA (Victorian Amateur Martial Arts Association) responsible for developing the sport from the junior level. He has staged the Victorian Kyokushin Karate Championships since 1987 every year without fail. And every 3 years the Australian Kyoskushin Championships. In 2015 when the Victorian Government legalised the cage for MMA, George was the second promoter to hold an MMA show in Victoria.
Frank Pianto is a renown Australian boxing coach. Frank who originated in Bendigo Victoria and now head trainer at one of Australia’s most prominent boxing gyms in Brisbane – Eastside Boxing, has been active as a coach for the past 17 years. During this time Frank has produced multiple youth and adult national champions. Recently Frank coached the Australian boxing team at the world championships with outstanding results from his commitment to his work. Frank holds many accreditations as a National Boxing Federation coach, but no qualification more relevant than his experience, results with athletes and general client satisfaction.
Professor Paulo Guimaraes is a Black Belt 5th Dan in brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Paolo has been training in BJJ for most of his adult life and running BJJ professionally for the past 25 years. As a competitor Paolo earned the reputation of being a fierce contender and as it normally follows, his own students now are making their mark in the field of competition. Paolo has developed a strong league of martial arts followers resulting in many schools across Australia under the "ROOTS BJJ Academies." Paolo specialises in technical performance and competition training for adults and children. He is a former Brazilian Army close combat and self defence instructor – 5th Guard Company Amazon Jungle division- Military Police and Parachute troops. He was the 1st Brazilian BJJ Black Belt to live and open a BJJ gym in Australia, and he is the Founder and Director NSW Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation. Paulo is Roots Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy founder and Head Instructor. He is a former professional surfer and an Airplane Pilot.