Our Staff

Our Instructors & Staff Members

Our Instructors have spent many years devoted to training in the art of Karate and other martial arts and have attained a certain level of expertise to qualify them as teachers and also mentors.

Through extensive testing, certification and tournament level competition, our staff has attained mastery in this martial art and now enjoy sharing their skill and passing it on to their students. Here are the instructor levels of the AKA: Junior Instructor-member of advanced children’s class who assists with Lil’ Dragons class Junior Black Belt Assistant Instructor-Black belt member of children’s class who assists with Lil’ Dragons or Black Belt (white stripe) member of adult class who assists with children’s class Trainee Instructor-Purple-Blue-Green-Brown belt member of adult class who assists with children’s class Sempai-Brown belt adult student who teaches classes and/or assists instructors in running the dojo; Black Belt adult student who has not earned the Sensei title Assistant Instructor-Black Belt who assists with all classes and may be called upon to teach class Instructor-2nd Degree Black Belt or higher who assists with all classes and is capable of leading their own program (minimum age of 21) Senior Instructor-3rd Degree Black Belt or higher who plays an advisory role to the Chief Instructor in making decisions that effect the dojo Chief Instructor-Assumes responsibility as leader of the dojo in all areas


Danny Chapman  (10th Dan/Senior Grandmaster/Soke) 
Sensei (teacher) Chapman is our Chief Instructor and currently holds the rank of Ju Dan (10th degree black belt). He is recognized as the Soke (founder) and Grandmaster of American Warrior Karate-Do by the Independent Karate Schools of America. Sensei Chapman charts the path of the dojo for the future. He sets the curriculum for all classes, determines belt promotions and leads the adult and children’s classes. Sensei has a vast wealth of knowledge and is the example of skill that we all aspire to obtain. The commitment to our dojo by Sensei Chapman demonstrates the benefits of the right attitude.

Grandmaster Chapman began training in the Martial Arts in 1981 and started teaching in 1983. In 1985 he joined the IKSA, a worldwide support and sanctioning organization allowing the dojo to be chartered by Master Floyd Burk, the founder of the IKSA. In 1994 Sensei Chapman founded the American Karate Academy in Franklin. The dojo affiliated with the Concord Road YMCA in August 2001.

Grandmaster Chapman serves as the National Co-Director of the IKSA and is the Director of the IKSA Annual Seminar. The IKSA Annual Seminar is a worldwide gathering of member schools and is hosted annually by the American Karate Academy.

Grandmaster Chapman is a member of the teaching staff at the world famous Karate College Camp (held annually at Radford University, Radford, VA). Sensei teaches sparring techniques and strategies at the camp. The staff includes such legends as Grandmasters Bill “Superfoot” Wallace, Dr. Jerry Beasley and grappling great, Renzo Gracie. In June 2015 Master Chapman was inducted into the inaugural class of the Karate College Hall of Fame.

On September 29, 2018 Master Chapman was promoted to 10th degree black belt by GM Floyd Burk and GM Bill "Superfoot" Wallace. "I am honored and humbled by the promotion," said Master Chapman. "I shall do my best to live up to the expectations of GM Burk and GM Wallace."

Grandmaster Chapman is a husband to Rennae and has 3 children, Seth, Cam, and Lori Lynn (all AKA Black Belts), and 5 grandchildren. He has a Bachelor of Science degree and a Masters of Education degree from Middle Tennessee State University. He retired in 2016 after teaching for 40 years at Franklin High School.

Sensei Chapman’s hunger for all things “martial arts” powers his daily training ethic and he continues to grow as a martial artist through guidance from his Sensei, Grandmaster Floyd Burk.


"Once you set your mind to it nothing is impossible!"
- Danny Chapman


Mike Hoyal  (8th Dan/Grandmaster/Senior Instructor/ Soke Dai)
Sensei Hoyal is a Senior Instructor at the American Karate Academy. In Sept 2016 he was promoted to 8th Dan. The IKSA Board of Directors conferred upon him the title of "Grandmaster." He assists in teaching classes and is in charge of teaching classes when Master Chapman’s duties call him away. Sensei Hoyal is a dynamic teacher of open hand and weapon forms, (also called “Kata”). In late 2004 Sensei Hoyal was named Soke-Dai, (co-inheritor of American Warrior Karate-Do) by Danny Chapman, Soke (Founder) of AWKD.

Sensei Hoyal is the Assistant Director for the IKSA Annual Seminar and is Master Chapman’s Assistant at Karate College. Sensei Hoyal has been a student of Sensei Chapman since 1992 and began teaching in 1994. He is an accomplished tournament champion instrumental in teaching techniques and sparring strategies to all levels of students.

Sensei Hoyal is a husband and a father of two. He has been active with the local 4-H clubs were he has taught archery and gun safety at the annual state camp/retreat for many years. He has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Tennessee in Geology and recently retired as the Assistant State Geologist for the State of Tennessee. His hobbies include hunting and camping.

Sensei Hoyal is committed to the martial arts and the American Karate Academy as is evidenced by his actions and continued development as a martial artist. In June 2015 he was inducted into the Karate College Hall of Fame.

Tim Bowles  (7th Dan/Kyoshi/Senior Instructor/Soke Dai) 
Tim is a 7th Dan,(7th degree black belt), a Senior Instructor and holds the title of "Master”. In late 2004 Sensei Bowles was named Soke-dai, (co-inheritor of American Warrior Karate-Do) by Grand Master Danny Chapman, Soke (Founder)
of AWKD. His role is to support the goals of the school as needed in assisting with the adult or children classes. Sensei Bowles has been a student of Master Chapman’s since 1997 and began teaching in 2000.

Sensei Bowles is a husband to Sandy. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing from Murray State University, Murray, KY, where he lettered in football. Sensei Bowles has been in the advertising field since 1984 and works in the automotive marketing industry. His hobbies include fitness training and travel.

Sensei Bowles showed a dedication to the martial arts early in his training and has constructed his own home dojo. He shows an exuberance and love of the martial arts and is dedicated to the American Karate Academy.

Matt Stonerock  (6th Dan/Kyoshi/Senior Instructor) 
Sensei Matt Stonerock holds the rank of Rokudan, 6th degree Black belt, and holds the title of Senior Instructor.

Sensei Stonerock performs exciting open hand and weapons forms (katas). A champion in many tournaments, he has excelled as well in teaching kata and sparring concepts. He is also the leader of the AKA demonstration team.

Sensei Stonerock joined the American Karate Academy in 1999. He has attended the world famous Karate College and has participated in several IKSA Annual Seminars. Sensei has been involved in various martial arts since he was 11 years old and has had previous training prior to joining the American Karate Academy in Saikan Karate, Wado-Ryu, Aikido, And Chinese Kenpo.

In January 2009 Sensei Stonerock opened up another branch of American Karate Academy at the East Nashville YMCA.

Michael Culbreth  (5th Dan/Master/Senior Instructor)
Sensei Michael Culbreth holds the rank of Godan, 5th degree Black Belt, and is an instructor for the children’s and adult AKA classes at both Brentwood and Nashville locations.
He was recently awarded the title of "Master of the Martial Arts" by Master Chapman.

Sensei Culbreth passed his test for Black Belt as a fifteen year-old and has been training in the martial arts for 19 years. Sensei has attended the world famous Karate College and has participated in several IKSA Annual Seminars. He is a graduate of Tennessee Tech in Cookville where he earned his BS degree. Sensei Culbreth and his wife Sensei Lindsey have 2 children. Sensei manages Timberland Park for the Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department.

Lindsey Culbreth (5th Dan/Master/ Senior Instructor)
Lindsey Culbreth earned her black belt in November 2005. She began her training in 2002. In September 2009 she was promoted to 3rd degree black belt.

Sensei Culbreth has attended Karate College and the IKSA Annual Seminar from 2003-2011 and again in 2013. She has competed successfully in several tournaments in sparring, forms, and weapons.

Sensei Culbreth is a graduate of Ravenwood High School in Brentwood and David Lipscomb University in Nashville. She has earned her Master's Degree from South College in Knoxville and is a certified Physician's Assistant. She is working in the ER at Summit Hospital in Hermitage.

She is married to AKA staff member Sensei Michael Culbreth. The Culbreth's have 2 children.  “Sensei Lindsey Culbreth has a great passion for the martial arts” said Master Chapman. Because of her hard work and dedication to the arts the AKA Sensei was promoted to 4th dan on Sept 27, 2015. She has continued to train and teach and on Sept 29, 2018 she was promoted to 5th Dan and given the title of "Master of the Martial Arts."

Jeff Bennie  (3rd Dan/Assistant Instructor)
In December 2013, Dr. Jeff Bennie passed his black belt test. Dr. Bennie is an anesthesiologist who practices in the Nashville area. He also travels extensively establishing clinics in remote parts of the world such as Africa and South America. He is very dedicated to his family and the martial arts, attending various seminars and training camps during the year. On Sept 27, 2015 Sensei Bennie was promoted to 2nd dan and on Sept 30, 2017 to 3rd.

Mackenzy Ramirez  (3rd Dan/Assistant Instructor)
Former Sempai Mackenzy Ramirez was recently awarded the title of Sensei and Assistant Instructor in American Warrior Karate-Do by GM Chapman.

"Since earning her Junior Black Belt Mackenzy has improved in knowledge and skill and continues to exhibit an attitude of humbleness and loyalty to the school," said Master Chapman. "It has been 11 years since one of the Junior Black Belts earned their senseiship". Sensei Mackenzy has been a part of the AKA family for 13 years. She is a senior at Nolensville High School. Sensei is very active in her church. On Sept 30, 2017 she was awarded with a promotion to 3rd Dan black belt. She is the youngest student in the 25 year history of the AKA to be promoted to 3rd Dan. Sensei Mackenzy is a Senior at Nolensville High School.

Michael Shounoda  (3rd Degree/Assistant Instructor)
Sensei Shounoda, a recent high school graduate, earned his black belt through the AKA kids program. Through dedication and study, he was able to test for his sensei title and passed. He will now continue learning through teaching and pass on what he has learned. He currently attends the University of Tennessee.
He was promoted to 3rd Dan black belt in Sept 2017.

Chase Smith  (3rd Dan/Assistant Instructor)
Sensei Smith, 3rd Dan, began training at a young age with the desire to become a black belt. He achieved this goal in the kids class and spent some time as a junior black belt while he continued learning. Chase successfully tested to become a sensei and is beginning a new journey as a teacher. Because of his hard work and dedication to the AKA Sensei Chase was promoted to 3rd Dan on Sept 29, 2018. Sensei is a Senior at Page High School.

Bailey Shelton (2nd Dan/Assistant Instructor)
Sensei Shelton received her blackbelt in July of 2015. She has been training in the Nashville dojo for more than 7 years and frequently trains at the Brentwood dojo. During her training she has developed good leaderhip ability and has taught both childrens and adult classes in Nashville.

Sensei Shelton has attended the world famous karate college in Radford, VA as well as many IKSA seminars. She has a love for the arts and enjoys being a part of the dojo family.

Steven Errico  (1st Dan/Assistant Instructor)
Sensei Errico began his training at AKA in 2014 shortly after seeing his older brother being promoted to black belt.
He served as Trainee Instructor and Sempai while working with the children's classes. He was previously the Chief Instructor for the Lil Dragon program.
Sensei Errico attends Union University in Jackson,TN. 

Kristen Ramirez  (1st Dan/Assistant Instructor)
Sensei Kristen Ramirez has been a part of the AKA family since 2006 when her daughter and husband began their training. In 2009 she began her study of the martial arts. She has been a part of the IKSA NTS Preparation Committee for several years helping with registration, certificates and more. She passed her black belt test in September 2017. Sensei Kristen, who holds a Master’s Degree, is a Media Specialist at Mill Creek Elementary School in Nolensville. In 2019 she was promoted to 2nd Degree Black Belt.

These are the Junior Black belts of the American Karate Academy. From left to right Abby Dodd, Keaton Sharpe, Weston Sharpe.

Junior Black Belts - Nashville
These are the Junior Black belts of the American Karate Academy East. From left to right Selah Harvey, Derrick Allison, Ella Aldrige, Clara Early.

For more information about the American Karate Academy staff or training programs, please contact us at 615-794-4330 or by clicking here.