MARTIAL ARTS FOR BOTH CHILDREN AND ADULTS!

Empire Dojo proudly serving Forest Hill & Abingdon

Empire Dojo has Classes in Forest Hill & Abingdon, Perfect for Kids, Teens, and Adults Martial Arts Lessons.

Who we Are And why You Should Train Here

Since we’ve opened, we’ve been dedicated to changing the lives of people one person at a time, through martial arts, education and coaching. We strive to provide a safe, comfortable and welcoming atmosphere for all students and family members. We take pride in creating an environment for individuals to achieve, develop and succeed in their personal goals.

We strongly believe that martial arts can be for everyone, regardless of age, gender or experience levels. Throughout all of our programs, students will not only learn the necessary skill sets to protect themselves, we stand behind our realistic and practical approach, confident it will enable every member to achieve greatness and live their best life..

Get To Know Our World Class Instructors

Sensei Luis Martinez

Sensei Luis Martinez

Owner & Master Instructor

Sensei Luis Martinez has been studying and training martial arts since he was 6 years old. He is currently the owner and master instructor at Empire Dojo. Sensei Luis oversees all operations of the school. He frequently travels to Japan and around the world to train in several different martial arts.

Official Rankings:

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do (Unarmed)
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt in Tang Soo Do (Unarmed)
  • 3rd Degree Black Belt in Ninpo Taijutsu (Unarmed)
  • 3rd Degree Black Belt in Jujutsu (Unarmed)
  • Kukishinden Bojutsu (Bo Staff) -Shoden Menkyo
  • Kukishinden Bikenjutsu (Sword) – Shoden Menkyo
  • Kukishinden Taijutsu (Unarmed)- Shoden Menkyo
  • Amatsu Tatara Bumon & Shumon Special Instructor – Shoden Menkyo
  • Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Yamamoto-Ha (Unarmed) – Shoden Menkyo
  • Mugen Shinto Ryu Iaijutsu (Sword) – Shoden Menkyo
  • Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Kodo-Kai 5th Kyu
  • Itto Tenshin Ryu Kenjutsu (Sword) – Shokyu
  • Next Level Krav Maga Instructor
  • Daiwado Jujutsu (Unarmed) – Shoden Menkyo
Sensei Sydney Brackins

Sensei Sydney Brackins

District Manager & Head Instructor

Sydney is our District Manager and a Head Instructor at Empire Dojo. She has a deep passion for helping others to achieve their personal goals and finding inner peace through the medium of martial arts and self-defense.

Beyond the certifications listed below, Sensei Sydney has a background in working with individuals with special needs, and has volunteered her time at Kennedy Krieger, The ARC, and even local Harford County Public Schools.

You’ll either meet her as she is helping to welcome you/your family into the school, teaching your children, or by taking her Krav Maga classes.

Official Rankings:

  • 2nd Degree Black Belt Ninpo Taijutsu (Unarmed)
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt Jujutsu (Unarmed)
  • 2nd Degree Black Belt Japanese Sword
  • Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu Kodo-Kai 6th Kyu
  • Daiwado Jujutsu – Shoden Menkyo
  • Head Coach in Krav Maga
Sensei John Lamar

Sensei John Lamar

Lead Instructor/Coach

Sensei John Lamar is a 20 year retired United States Air Force veteran. He is one of our lead instructors with the adult Ninpo & Jujutsu classes. He is also one of our coaches in our Krav Maga program.

John currently holds a 1st degree Black Belt Ninpo Taijutsu (unarmed) and 1st degree Black Belt Jujutsu (unarmed). John started training in martial arts as a child and continued his training during his years with the military. 

Sensei John has been with Empire Dojo since 2019 when he and his family enrolled as members. His daughter is currently in our youth program and he continues his own training when he isn’t instructing or coaching. 

If asked, John will tell you that he’s always enjoyed jujutsu the most, and being able to work with weapons.

He enjoys teaching because of the reward he feels when he sees one of his students “get it”. He loves when a student who’s struggled with something finally has that “ah ha” moment and they conquer whatever it was. He says that’s such a neat thing to witness. He’s a firm believer that if people understand why they’re practicing something, the lesson is easier taught. With that in mind, he tries to break every technique down by explaining its practicality into a real word situation.

Sensei Makai Watson

Sensei Makai Watson

Lead Instructor

Sensei Makai is our lead instructor of our youth programs here at the dojo.

He has been training in martial arts for the last 11 years, having started when he was 8 years old. He’s trained with Luis Sensei for the past 6.

He is a black belt in ninpo Taijutsu and is on the path to earning his adult black belt.

Makai is a college freshman studying business and management, and is working to get into computer science.

When asked, he’ll tell you he loves sparring and if you ever get a chance to see him in action, you’ll see why. His kicks are impressive and he’s quite the powerhouse.

Makai is outgoing, funny, genuine, patient, dedicated, kind, and loves working with others. When he’s teaching our youth members you can see the joy it brings him.

Sensei Athena Byrne

Sensei Athena Byrne

Assistant Instructor

Athena watched her younger sister learn martial arts for a while before she started. She was very nervous and shy, and her parents practically had to drag her onto the mat for her first class. Now she assists and/or leads her own classes!

She started training in November 2018. Little did she know, she’s a natural! To watch her on the mat you’d think she’d been doing this her whole life.

Athena earned her 1st degree junior black belt in September 2021. Currently she holds a blue belt/6th kyu in adult ninpo and the Kukishinden Ryu Bojutsu- Shoden Menkyo. She is working towards her adult shodan (1st degree) adult black belt.

Athena is one of the most technical students we have here at Empire Dojo. Two of her favorite martial arts heroes are Misha Tate and Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

When she was younger she competed in horseback riding for 3 years and routinely took care of the horses while the owner was out of town. She enjoys swimming, going bowling, playing volleyball and basketball, spending time at her family cabin, camping, hanging with friends, and making TikToks.

Her goal is to become a UFC fighter.

When asked why she likes being an instructor, she replied, “I enjoy helping other kids that deal with the same anxieties and nerves that I did, and I truly value that I can be a positive role model for those starting in Martial Arts.”

Sensei Excevier Cardona

Sensei Excevier Cardona

Lead Instructor

Excevier has been learning martial arts since he was 3 years old. He’s been training with Luis Sensei for 7 years this coming September.

At 11 years old he currently holds a youth black belt and is working towards earning his shodan (1st degree) adult black belt.

Those who have had the pleasure to meet him will tell you that he is a true joy to be around. Not only is he an excellent teacher, but he’s genuinely kind.

He is mature beyond his years. He helps his parents with “chores” that most 11 year olds don’t do. He’s a hard worker and his dedication to doing a great job at whatever task is in front of him is evident when you meet him.

When he’s not “working” you might catch a glimpse of him being a kid. His giggles are contagious and his smile is infectious.

Sensei Adee Cardona

Sensei Adee Cardona

Assistant Instructor

Sensei Adee Cardona is one of the most accomplished teenagers at

Empire Dojo holding ranks in our Junior Program, Adult Krav Maga, &

Adult Ninpo Taijutsu programs. She has been training in martial arts

for over 6 years now. She successfully passed shodan ninpo Taijutsu

and Jujutsu tests in April 2022 earning her 1st degree (adult) black belt.

Sensei Sierra Cross

Sensei Sierra Cross

Assistant Instructor

Sierra has been learning martial arts since she was 9 years old. She has been training with Luis Sensei for the past 2 years.

Sierra earned her youth black belt in December 2021 and is currently working towards her adult black belt in Ninpo.

Sierra is preparing to start high school in the fall and looking forward to joining her sister in the marching band. She also hopes to join her brother on the cross country team.

She very much likes being active and enjoys challenging herself physically.

Outside of school and martial arts she enjoys reading manga, watching anime, and listening to a wide variety of music. She’s even learning ballroom dancing!

When teaching our youth members, Sierra takes her time and does a great job with explaining the technique.

It’s easy to see her dedication and passion towards teaching others.

Sensei Nathan Benson

Sensei Nathan Benson

Youth Instructor

After seeing how much both of his children have grown and flourished in our programs, Nathan decided to train with us as well. He is active in our adult program alongside his oldest child. His youngest child is in our Youth Leadership Program. 

Nathan has a background in Cyber Security, is an avid deer hunter (his wife makes an amazing venison chili), enjoys watching sci-fi and anime movies/series, and learning the way of the ninja with his kids. 

Nathan has a great ability to connect with our youth students in a way that they can better relate when learning new techniques. You will find him on the mat high five-ing and encouraging our students throughout class.

Coach Eric Roland

Coach Eric Roland

Coach/Assistant Instructor

Coach Eric Roland is one of Krav Maga coaches and a firearms expert. Coach Roland is also an assistant instructor in our Adult Ninpo & Jujutsu class. 

Coach Scott Buckheit

Coach Scott Buckheit

Coach/Assistant Instructor

Coach Buckheit is one of our Krav Maga coaches and a Marine Corp. veteran. Scott is also an assistant instructor in our Adult Ninpo & Jujutsu program. 

Coach Chris Kelly

Coach Chris Kelly

Coach

Coach Chris Kelly is one of our Krav Maga coaches and a United States Army veteran.

Coach Johnny Benson

Coach Johnny Benson

Coach

Coach Johnny Benson is one of our Krav Maga coaches. He is also an extremely talented violinist 

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