UBBT 2018 Team
Below you'll find the Ultimate Black Belt Test (UBBT) participants in the 2018 UBBT Project. For more information on the UBBT, you may reach out to coach Tom Callos at 530-903-0286 or on Skype at tomcallos.
Tom Callos is the designer and team coach for The Ultimate Black Belt Test (UBBT), which he first launched in 2004. He started his martial arts journey in 1969 with a class in judo, began practicing Taekwondo in 1971, and currently holds a 7th degree black belt in Taekwondo and a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His primary martial arts teachers in TKD have been Grand Masters Lou Grasso, David Castillo, and Ernie Reyes, Sr. He began his journey in jiu-jitsu under Ralph and Cesar Gracie, earning his brown belt from Professor Eliot Kelly —and is presently a student of Professor Gustavo Enriquez of Infinite Jiu-Jitsu in Rocklin, CA.
For more than 2 decades Tom taught the martial arts in Reno, Nevada; at their peak his 2 schools there had more than 800 students attending each week. In 1994 Tom retired from full time teaching and moved to The Big Island of Hawaii, where a young BJ Penn became his primary training partner. While studying jiu-jitsu Tom introduced his son and stepson, Shannone Callos and Keenan Cornelius, to the art —and both are now black belts under Atos Jiu-jitsu. BJ Penn and Keenan are widely acknowledged as 2 of the most accomplished American-born jiu-jitsu competitors in the history of modern jiu-jitsu.
While running his schools in Reno, Tom was asked to join the Board of Directors of a martial arts billing company —and served as a business consultant for them and other professional martial arts organizations until he founded his own companies, The Community and the UBBT, in 2004.
“I became fatigued and disenchanted with the direction of the martial arts ‘industry,’ says Callos. “The work and focus became far too commerce oriented and the strategies for sales, marketing, and management became increasingly manipulative, formulaic, and driven by people who embraced selling and the money it brought in, but who weren’t necessarily interested in the evolution and betterment of the martial arts. The Ultimate Black Belt Test was my response to what I felt was going wrong in the martial arts community. In my opinion, if instructors wanted more students, to be respected, and to run schools that lived up to the promises made, it wasn’t done through creating sales websites, watered down requirements, and slick sales strategies; growth and respect came from the core of who the teacher IS and what he or she was doing in the world. The old saying, ‘When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,’ for me, became, ‘When the TEACHER is ready, the students will appear.’ The UBBT is about transforming the teacher and his or her practices, outlook, tools, and sense of mission —as a tool for building more authentic, value driven martial arts schools.”
Tom Callos may be reached on Facebook, thru his website www.TOMCALLOS.com, and/or by text or phone at 530-903-0286, on Skype as tomcallos.
Tom is a also a Grant Ambassador for The Pollination Project.
9th degree black belt, Soke Dave McNeill, started his study of Goju-Shorei Karate in 1971 under the tutelage of Hanshi Alexander Archie.
In 2005 Hanshi Archie retired and appointed Soke McNeill as the head of Goju-Shorei. McNeill structured the System so there was a Director of Karate (Master Larry Kooyman), Director of Weapons (Master Kathy Wieczerza), Director of Jujitsu (Master Andy Tourin).
As a youngster, Soke boxed in the Jr. Golden Gloves program. Currently, or in the past, he also trained with Remy Presas in Modern Arnis, Byong Yu in Taekwondo, Gary Friederich in Shotokan, Mark Lord in Tai Chi, Donnie Williams and Steve Muhammad in BKF Kenpo, Prof. Ken Eddy in Seifukujutsu and George Fujii in Machado Brazilian Jujitsu. In the 70s, 80s and 90s Soke McNeill competed successfully in martial arts tournaments throughout California, Idaho, Oregon and Nevada.
In the mid-80s it was decided that the Goju-Shorei system needed a fresh approach in the teaching of weapons. It was noted that all of the so-called traditional weapons were illegal in most, if not all, of the States. Soke McNeill took on the task of developing a structured, systematized weapons system that could be utilized by the general public, Goju-Shorei students, as well as other martial arts styles.
After extensive research McNeill decided that the cane, knife and fan would best meet the demands of legality and practicality. The cane is the core weapon since it is such a practical tool, and legal anywhere in the world. The knife blade would be no longer than 3”, which is legal in all States. The fan teaches the use of a short weapon.
Ranking standards and curriculum were created up to 8th degree black belt. This included katas, techniques and exercises.
In 1994 Goju-Shorei formally adopted the Weapons System, and Soke McNeill was designated head of the Goju-Shorei Weapons System.
Soke McNeill started Cane Masters with his student Mark Shuey, and was the original president of that company. The partnership lasted for 2 years.
He has been inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame, The Hawaiian Martial Arts Hall of Fame, World Sokeship Council Hall of Fame and the United States Martial Arts of Fame.
McNeill has also have been featured in Martial Arts Legends magazine and has been published numerous times in Black Belt magazine.
Soke McNeill has been a participant and advisor to the Ultimate Black Belt Test almost since its inception.
He resides in Northern Nevada, just south of Reno with his wife, Mary Ann, of 56 years.
Jeremy Smith began his martial arts training under Tom Callos in 1990 at Ernie Reyes' West Coast Taekwondo in Reno Nevada. There, he eagerly worked his way to an advanced rank in 1991 that allowed him to assist in classes and that he did, every day, eventually earning 1st degree black belt in 1993. Jeremy worked as an instructor at that West Coast studio from '91-'98, then moved to Las Vegas to manage the classroom with Steve Kissell, one of Tom Callos' earliest Black Belts. From there, Jeremy moved to Portland, Oregon and eventually met Dan Sikkens, who had started Aim High Academy of Martial Arts and was in need of someone with Jeremy's skill set of organizing multiple classrooms and martial arts curriculum. There, Jeremy and Dan along with an amazing team of young martial artists, built a strong studio that grew to 650+ students over multiple martial arts programs ranging from TKD to MMA to Tang Soo Do to BJJ and spanning all age groups. Jeremy earned his 5th degree black belt in 2008 and is currently training for his 6th.
Having been immersed in teaching martial arts for 26 years, Jeremy has decided it is time for him to venture out and open his own studio, Dynamic Martial Arts, which he currently owns and operates with his wife and daughter. Since opening in May of 2017, they have put energy and effort into developing relationships in the community and have had the privilege of working with the local women's shelter and family center, local churches, and the Gresham division of Child Welfare.
Jeremy's mission is to use this UBBT testing process to broaden the subjects he teaches within his studio, enriching the martial arts curriculum, and share the process in a way that adds value to his community both inside and out of the dojo.
Follow or contact Jeremy at:
Larry Kooyman is Director of Goju-Shorei Karate and owns/operates Family First Martial Arts in Franklin, TN (www.familyfirstma.com) and Spring Hill, TN (www.familyfirstspringhill.com) with his wife Dani (UBBT 2018 team member). He holds a 6th Degree Black Belt in Goju- Shorei Karate, 4th Degree Black Belt in Goju-Shorei Weapons,1st Degree Black Belt in Japanese Kenpo, 1st Degree Black Belt in Judo and a Blue Belt in Brazilian JiuJitsu under Professor Kelley Perotti of Conviction Martial Arts and Team Atos.
As a UBBT team 3 and 4 graduate, Larry is excited to be on this year's team. “I’m looking forward to challenging myself and inspiring my students to put themselves out there to accomplish goals greater than they think possible through consistent daily progress. Pass or fail we are putting ourselves out there and I’m honored to work with this team.” said Kooyman.
To follow his journey visit www.familyfirstspringhill.com/myultimatejourney.
Dani Carroll is the Co-Owner of Family First Martial Arts Franklin Branch (www.familyfirstma.com) and Family First Martial Arts Spring Hill Branch (www.familyfirstspringhill.com) along with her husband, Larry. Dani specializes in staff management both at home and at both schools. She currently holds a 5th degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo, 3rd Degree Black Belt in Goju-Shorei Weapons and is a Blue Belt in Brazilian JiuJitsu.
Dani has a degree in Natural Health and was part of the ground breaking nutrition company Nature’s First Law (now Sunfoods) doing research for articles and books for nutrition expert/social media star, David Wolfe. Dani adds her experience in Natural Health to her martial arts training to increase her performance.
Along with the Martial Arts, Dani’s passion for music is what drives her. She has worked with some of the industry’s biggest names such as Jason Mraz, Tim Flannery, David Malloy and Mark Collie. She was previously a staff writer for Famous Music Publishing of Paramount Pictures and a studio singer for Universal Music Publishing Group. Dani plans to use her talents as a musician as part of her UBBT journey and write a series of inspirational pieces.
Dani and her husband Larry started Family First Martial Arts Training Centers in 2010. They have always run their school with transparency and solid business ethics. “We do right by people. Plain and simple.” says Dani. “Our goal is to treat every student and their family the way we would expect to be treated.” she added. It’s what she’s attributed to the success of their school. Family First Martial Arts has well over 300 Students and has worked in the community at preschools, orphanages and churches teaching the physical benefits of martial arts as well as educate youth about dealing with strangers and bullies in FAST Defense seminars all across Middle TN.
Danny Sikkens is a 5th degree black belt under Tom Callos and the Executive Director and Founder for Aim High Martial Arts, co-President (with his wife) of Vino Oregon Inc., Vice President of Social Goods Market and Newberg Wine Lockers. (www.vinooregon.com)
Danny has held city office as commissioner for the City of Dundee, OR. (2013-2015), board member of the Tualatin Valley parks and rec Champion’s 2 foundation (major claim to fame is launch a park that is all inclusive all people of all needs), as well as sitting on various other nonprofit boards and hold city-business positions in mentoring youth and young business students.
Aim High has multiple departments but is best known for its martial arts school, which typically carries an enrollment of between 600 to 800 students. Over the years Aim High students have done thousands of projects, community wide and internationally, including work against sex trafficking (www.compassionfirst.org), homelessness (www.aimhighma.org/homeless), and projects involving youth and adults with special needs. Along with growing the largest nonprofit martial arts school in the nation, Aim High serves youth that have severe autism (www.donate4impact.org), has developed communication applications for Ipads, given jobs to homeless young adults by means of making apparel for charities, churches and schools, partnered with Think Kindness (www.thinkkindness.org) and in 2018 will be handling 100% of its nationally delivered school curriculum for bully prevention, suicide prevention, as well as other issues facing young people.
Presently, Danny manages an annual budget of over 2.5milliion through Aim High and team of over 50 employees.
Paul Castagno has been training in martial arts for over 20 years and runs Revolution Martial Fitness (www.revolutionmartialfitness.com) in Natick Ma. He is currently a 5th degree black belt in Kempo, an actively training blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu, and has extensive training in Kung-fu, Kali, and Muay Thai. He even spent time training at Sitmonchai; one of the top gyms in Thailand.
On top of that he is FAST Defense certified, a certified kettlebell sport lifting coach, completed child abuse prevention education through the organization “Darkness to Light”
He believes in the power of martial arts training in being a vehicle for positive change in the world. That finding the right balance of both challenge and support, you can create an environment that helps people realize that they are stronger and more capable than they ever thought. You can hear more about this by listen to his TED talk about “The power of believing in others”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSfv4fizjm8
Paul is using the UBBT to retest himself for his 5th degree black belt. On top of feeling that he still needs life experience to represent a higher rank, he wants to push himself harder and set the bar higher for what it means to be a high level black belt.
You can find him at any of links below:
Ray Neill took his first Martial Arts classes in 1986. He is currently a 4th Dan in TKD based arts under KJN Tres Weatherford of Freestyle Martial Arts Academy. He has owned and operated Evolution Martial Arts Academy in Sparks, Nevada since 2008. Along the way Evolution MAA became affiliated with Charles Gracie Jiu Jitsu and it also houses the Charles Gracie Sparks Academy. Ray is currently a Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Jason Swanson and Master Charles Gracie.
Ray’s background of almost 30 years was in Business Management and Administration operating multiple facilities and an extensive number of employees. During his tenure the business grew from 1 million to over 20 million in sales annually.
Ray has been a martial arts instructor for over 20 years. He currently teaches kids and adults of all ages providing programs in and outside of Evolution for preschools, elementary schools, women’s self defense and senior students with Parkinson’s disease. His participation in the very first “Ultimate Black Belt Test” prompted the pursuit of his martial arts passion and resulted in the start of Evolution Martial Arts Academy. Being a graduate of the first three “Ultimate Black Belt Test’s” his focus was not in acquiring rank but more on education. The curriculum at Evolution MAA is an extension of the ideas and knowledge acquired throughout that process. Ray has chosen to pursue rank with this year’s UBBT in order to continue to cultivate the positive example of continuing education for his students.
Ray hopes to start and develop a Non Profit venture for his community that will provide the resources necessary for economically deprived children to participate in all sports, with an emphasis on the benefits of martial arts. His goal is to make that happen as a part of this process.
Ryan McGill has been a student of Martial Arts since 1985 and currently holds the rank of a fourth-degree black belt in TaeKwonDo under Master Tom Callos. Ryan has studied MuyThai, Brazilian JiuJitsu, and Marine Corps Mixed Martial Arts. Ryan has served in the United States Navy as a second class diver, the United States Marine Corps as a Captain and CH-46E Helicopter Pilot, and currently in the North Carolina Army National Guard as Chief Warrant Officer 2 and a UH-60L Blackhawk pilot. He has a Bachelors degree in International Affairs from the University of Nevada-Reno. A Master's degree in Leadership from Northeastern University, and will be working on a Graduate Certificate in Urban Management and Policy from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. His continued educational goal upon completion of this certification will be a Ph.D. in Public Policy.
Ryan ran for Charlotte City Council in 2017 because he wanted to serve in a different way. He campaigned to better the lives of those around him and to help those who have been left behind (www.voteryanmcgill.com). He is the State Co-Director for Truman National Security Project (www.trumanproject.org), a board member for Seven Stars Foundation (www.sevenstarsfoundation.com). Watch as he begins his new endeavor of starting his nonprofit; Emerge, The Art of Leadership - Education for Civic Leadership through a Martial Arts Method.
Ryan's overall life mission is to be a part of the solution and better the world around him.
He can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ryan.mcgill.13 and through his blog at http://theartofleadership.blog/
Tamara Leonard runs Adventure Mixed Martial Arts in Parma, Ohio along with her partners Joe Stronsick and Sonny Dubetz. She's been training in the martial arts since 2010 and currently holds the rank of First Degree Black Belt in Kenpo Karate; Blue belt in IKI Krav Maga and Certified Apprentice Instructor in IKI Krav Maga under Moshe Katz; and holds the rank of purple belt in jiu jitsu under Joe Stronsick and Santos Flaniken (Hayastan style). She holds a master's in education and educational specialist degrees, and has been practicing as a school psychologist since 2008. Tamara is an active Ambassador within the organization, My Bruises are From, which is a non-profit group seeking to help men and women find safety and support those who need help out of assault situations. She has also organized, with other women in her area, a collaborative training environment to help women of jiu jitsu come together to share knowledge as well as to give back to the local domestic violence shelter. In addition to teaching children's martial arts, adult martial arts, and adult fitness classes, Tamara also works as a Precision Nutrition and Wellness coach, helping women and men regain their life through learning healthy habits and self exploration.
Tamara’s overall life mission is to help people to live better lives - in mind, body, and spirit.
She can be found on facebook at Tamara Leonard - https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=66202220&ref=br_rs and through her active blog chronicle of the process at www.TheGreatAdventureJourney.com
Jeff Brinker is a kung fu stylist who has been training for over 35 years and is the owner of Silent River Kung fu in Stony Plain, Alberta, Canada . In addition to kung fu, Jeff has studied Ketto Ryu Jujutsu, Wado Kai Karate, and ITF Taekwondo. Jeff is certified by the late Grandmaster Stan lee of the Canadian Ging Wu Kung Fu Martial Arts Association and has trained under the late Master Margitte Hilbig, the first female black belt in Canada. He currently trains under Master Brian Macdonald of Edmonton.
Jeff has been a member of multiple UBBT teams and has integrated the UBBT process into his school as part of his I Ho Chuan team. With his team Jeff created the Silent River Benevolent Foundation, a non-profit organization that has raised over $250,000 for local and global initiatives.
Jeff’s school is the first martial arts school in Canada to pass a comprehensive green audit and achieve Green Business Certification status. Silent River Kung Fu has maintained that status since 2013 through continued innovation and improvement of its business practices and systems.
Heeding the advice of Master McNeill, Jeff is dedicating his participation in this year’s UBBT to Master Margie Hilbig.