John E. Hughes
Ju Dan (10th Degree Black Belt, IWKA #5757)
Hanshi John E. Hughes has been studying Isshin-ryu Karate since October of 1972. On July 26, 2022 Master Kichiro Shimabuku (son of the founder of Isshin-ryu Karate) promoted him to 10th Degree Black Belt. Hanshi Hughes studied under several respected instructors including Master William H. Duessel, 10th Degree Black Belt (July 2013), with whom he studied from 1985 until Master Duessel's death in 2014.
He has hosted the 1999, 2007 and 2015 IWKA Tournaments with 567, 613 and 714 competitors, respectively. Hanshi Hughes is a retired teacher at Hackettstown High School, certified athletic trainer, and Senior Adjunct Professor of English at Warren County Community College.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
-Marianne Williamson from A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles
Black Belt Instructors
Hachi Dan (8th Degree)
Ted Stolte started training in 1969 with his uncle, Mike Wadiak (4th Dan – Isshin-ryu Karate) and earned his Roku Dan in July 2008. He is retired from Exxon Mobil after 26 years of service. A Favorite memory is when he was eleven he met Don Nagle, Jim Chapman and Gary Alexander. Later that evening he watched Master Nagle and his uncle spar each other at the Jersey City dojo on Mercer Street. His Favorite training element is one step drills. His Favorite technique is lead left hand backfist, followed with a right leg front snap kick, followed by a right hand vertical punch. His Favorite Quote – “The best defense is a good offense.” Don Nagle
Jeff Matusewicz started training April of 1984, earning his Sho Dan July of 1989 and his Roku Dan July 2008. He currently works for JCP&L. (more to come)
Shichi Dan (7th Degree)
Adam Masur started training October of 1985, earning his Sho Dan in July of 1993 and his Roku Dan in August of 2013. He lives in New York City, and commutes to the Hackettstown dojo regularly. Favorite Memory: Training in Okinawa with O’Sensei Kichiro Shimabuku, and trying to use a GPS navigation system when you only recognize the terms “Hidari” and “Migi”. Favorite Quote: When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Roku Dan (6th Degree)
Cassandra Brown started training June of 1992 as a junior in high school, earning her Sho Dan June of 1998 and her Roku Dan in September 12, 2015. I am an art teacher in Morristown for k – 5 students. The most memorable experiences are like the question of “what is your favorite color?” to an artist, when there is such a vast array of incredible colors. Karate has been a part of my life for so long, that I cannot even imagine life without karate. The people I have met through the years have made such an impact on my life, and I will forever be grateful for the positive influence that Isshin-ryu has had for me. I remember the days of coming sporadically through my college years while juggling work and sports – each time I came in I met by Sensei Hughes with a big smile. I would bow my head and sheepishly admit that I did not remember much. He would not laugh or scold me, but would simply get me out on the dojo floor and encourage me. That is one of the main reasons that I am still involved. I remember the first black belt/weekend training camp at the Hughes’ House – seeing Scott Miller, big tough guy, not looking so tough anymore after two strenuous days! I remember the constant encouraging words from Jeff Matusewicz – a friend who will do absolutely anything for you, a huge heart – “one heart way” fits for him. He has been a constant, a consistent friend in a tumultuous life. Mrs. Hughes has always treated me with such respect and has always made me feel that I was better than I thought. My favorite drills involves doing multiple kick techniques and any type of training that gets the heart pumping and sweat flowing. My favorite quotes “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Dr. Seuss and “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali
Linda Hughes started training in June of 1982, earning her Sho Dan in 1986 and her Go Dan in 2008. Her fondest memories involve travelling to Okinawa, Japan with an amazing group of friends, experiencing the culture and training at the headquarters dojo. Her favorite training involve “The Ahha” moments when a student finally gets the true application or understanding of a technique. Her favorite quotes are “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where you go . . . ” Dr Seuss “Promise me you’ll always remember: you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” Christopher Robin to Pooh “good enough seldom is. Don’t settle for mediocrity.” Renshi Hughes
Ed Grace started training February 1990 earning his Ni Dan May of 1997. Because of illness he needed to take time off from the dojo but returned in November of 2003, earning his Yon Dan July 2011. He currently works for the Postal Service (more coming soon)
Go Dan (5th Degree)
Jeff Adler started training December of 1994 after watching my kids take karate for a few years, earning his Sho Dan January 1999. He took a short break during 2002 to concentrate on family and business development, returning to the dojo October 2010 and earned is San Dan July 2011. Currently he is owner and President of small to medium size construction company working on many large commercial projects. The most notable project is the new Met Life Stadium. His Favorite Memory is standing with the other 563 competitors and spectators watching and listening to my daughter, Jennifer, sing the National Anthem at the 1999 Isshin-ryu World Karate Championships in McAfee, NJ. I hope to continue to be involved with karate for many years to come as I believe it to be a fun and functional way to remain active and fit, for I believe it is better to burn out than to rust away. His Favorite Technique I enjoy all aspects of training and realize the more I learn about karate, the less I know. I find the use of pressure points and the attack on multiple points along the same meridians to be quite fascinating. His Favorite Quote ” Fighting is not good, someone always get hurt, but if must fight . . . .WIN. Miyagi in “Karate Kid”.
San Dan (3rd Degree)
Kristyn Wheeler started training September of 2004 and earned her Ni Dan September 2015. I would come to class with my older brother and watched him and I loved it. I started as soon as I could. Once I was old enough my parents signed me up and I have been here ever since. I believe Isshin-Ryu Karate has brought me out of my shell and made me who I am today. Favorite technique- font kick into side blade kick into spinning back kick. Favorite quote- “Get knocked down 7 times, get up 8”. Favorite memories- being able to experience three world championships, (2007, 2013, 2015). I placed third in the 2007 and the 2015 championships for kata. I am hoping to go to many more. I love competing and seeing the people from other schools that are far and we never get to see. I also love meeting new people from around the word. I like hanging out at the end of each day and sharing our stories on what happened that day. Another memory is my black belt testing. That was the hardest experience that tested me mentally, physically, and spiritually. You get pushed and you just keep going. At the end after you put that black belt on for the first is the best feeling of pride and accomplishment. I felt like a part of the family and everyone was there that day to see us go through that and make that goal of a Sho-Dan. Just the little things like standing up with the black belts for the first time was an amazing thing.
Scott Conroy started training May of 2010 and earned his Ni Dan September 2015. His Favorite Memory: is the Sho Dan Assessment process. From the day notice of the assessment was given I felt an opportunity had been provided to prepare myself physically, mentally and, emotionally for a day that would offer many challenges. In the weeks leading up to our camp it was a challenge to consistently invest every available minute in physical training and study. I enjoyed this process and the opportunity to “test” my efforts during camp. His Favorite Technique: Step/slide with reverse punch. This technique let’s you close distance and strike while inside your opponents normal punching range. It is simple and adaptable as a counter for many attacks. His Favorite Quote: From The Hagakure – “There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, thought you still get the same soaking. This understanding extended to everything.”. Yamamoto Tsunetomo
Robert Kulick started training a dozen years ago, returning to the dojo December of 2011 and earned his Ni Dan September 2015. His favorite memory – seeing my daughter at her very first class at I.S.K. (and receiving my Shodan). His Favorite technique – Bunkai for Sunsu kata and the back kick. Favorite quote – “True victory is victory over oneself” – Morihei Ueshiba
Andrea Aten (bio to come)
Thomas Schroeder started training at 65 on January 1, 2011, earning his Sho Dan September 12th 2015 his Ni Dan, January 8th, 2017 and San Dan on September 9th, 2019. He worked for 25 years at AT&T Long Lines, retiring in June 1996. Following AT&T he worked for Teleport Communications, LLC, Global Crossing, LLC and XO Communications as Vice President of Carrier Relations and Operations. Currently, he is the founder and CEO of his own consulting company, On the Spot Communications, LLC providing Senior Management leadership with Project Management skills for both the telecom/Cable industries. His most memorable experience was his first I.W.K.A world tournament in Akron Ohio 2013 and placing first in sparing and in July 2019, at the I.W.K.A London UK tournament, placing second in weapons at the ripe old age of 73, just 3 months before his 74th birthday. His favorite technique is elbow strikes and joint locks and his favorite kata is the weapons kata using the Tonfa. Tom’s favorite quote is from Master Duessel’s book Beyond Black Belt “Use technique, not strength”.
Jay Brader (bio to come)
Ni Dan (2nd Degree)
Shirley K. Zavala started training July of 2010 and earned her Ni Dan September 2015.
Sho Dan (1st Degree)
Kenneth I. Aten (bio to come)
Inactive Black Belt-but always welcome back . . .
Melissa Moore Kirk