Tag Archives: Student of the Month


 JP Martial Arts September 2015 Student of the Month

 We are pleased to announce that Twyla Schran is our September Student of the Month.
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    This month’s Student of the Month, Twyla Schran, is 16 years old, and a Junior at Meridian Academy here in Jamaica Plain. She earned her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Blue Belt this summer at the age of 16 – the youngest age a student is allowed to earn a Blue Belt, by IBJJF rules.  Twyla also trains in Karate at another dojo, where she is a Junior Black Belt (the black belt for those who go through the kids program; the next step is the adult Brown Belt).

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Twyla is an all-around martial artist. She is strong and flexible, because she strives to be very technical, she is fun and challenging to roll with, and a great competitor.

We asked Twyla to share some of her thoughts about her training in martial arts, BJJ, and at JP Martial Arts.

When did you first begin training at JPMAA?
    I started in the fall of 2013. I had been wanting to try out BJJ for a while beforehand, but never got around to signing up. Then my best friend started classes at JPMAA (back when it was Mass Bay BJJ) and the opportunity to train with her was the motivation I needed to check it out. I’ve been in love with the sport ever since.

Do you train primarily BJJ or Karate, or both?
    That’s an interesting question for my case. I’ll have to go with both.

Do you have prior martial arts experience in your life?
    Yes, I’ve been training in American Kenpo karate (at a separate dojo) for almost seven years now. I love how complimentary it is to train both striking and grappling martial arts.

What motivated you to want to start training in martial arts?
    Honestly at first karate was just an after school program that seemed interesting. Like, homework club on Mondays, crafts club on Tuesdays, karate on Wednesdays. Why not? I took the classes on and off and didn’t really get into it until fourth grade, when a boy (who trained with the same dojo much more intensely that I did) overheard me talking about karate to a friend, and he walked over and told me that girls can’t do karate. That was when I got my act together.

How did you first learn about JP Martial Arts Academy?
    I live very close by! My family watched its gradual assembly, and it was downright tantalizing having a martial arts studio that near to where we live. I love being able to walk to and from classes.

What do you like most about training in the martial arts?       Everything. Even the parts that are less fun, or even painful, really only help build confidence and toughness. I like knowing what I’m capable of. I love moving and being active. And the mental puzzles that you have to solve while rolling or doing kata or learning new technique… it’s so satisfying to accomplish goals, and to be able to watch yourself progress and develop as a martial artist.

How has training in martial arts changed or improved your life?
    I was a very shy kid. Starting karate made me more comfortable with myself, more confident. I became less afraid of making noise and taking up space. And that’s really only gotten more and more prominent as time has gone by. Criticism doesn’t freak me out as much as it used to. I have a mental toughness that I can only attribute to martial arts. I don’t get intimidated very easily anymore… I’ve even found that talking to new people is easier as I’ve gotten more confidence in myself. But maybe even more importantly than the knowledge that I can take a beating and still be strong enough to keep going, is the patience that comes from spending hours practicing and meditating. It’s harder to get angry, to hold grudges. A lot of that part comes from jiu jitsu. You know, being able to roll with the flow.

What do you like the most about training at JPMAA?
    The environment, everyone is so friendly and open. The karate dojo I come from takes the “martial” part of martial arts very seriously. Rules and protocol all over the place. The transition to a dojo where you can really talk with the senseis during class was bizarre.

What are your goals for your training?
    I’ve recently been competing through NAGA (North American Grappling Association) and the IBJJF (International Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation), and I really enjoyed it. I want to compete a lot more, maybe even travel a bit, to roll with people who train differently than I do and to see more of the huge community of BJJ. Other than that, I just want to get stronger and learn more, there’s always more to improve on.

JP Martial Arts owner and head instructor David Shim has this to say about Tywla:
    Twyla has been with us since the early days of our school.  I would often see her training with her mother Elin in our BJJ classes with our previous instructor.  I could tell that Twyla was serious, and I also learned that she has a black belt in Karate at another dojo.  I have had the pleasure of teaching her BJJ for the last 10 months or so, and I have learned what a strong competitor she is (and also how flexible and physically strong she is!).  This past summer, Twyla turned 16 and we were able to award her Blue Belt.  As a Blue Belt, Twyla has competed in a NAGA competition and the IBJJF Boston Open, winning second and first place respectively in her division.  In the recent Boston Open tournament, Twyla submitted her opponent (who had traveled from Brazil for this competition and who was ranked 3rd in her division there).  The submission took 43 seconds.  Twyla is hard working, humble, and earnest.  I enjoy rolling with her, and I look forward to helping her train for future events.  Needless to say, she represents us well!

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Congratulations Twyla!!


We are pleased to announce that ANGELA JOHNSON is our JPMAA June Student of the Month. 

Angela  Johnson


Angela has been with our Dojo since we opened in 2013. She came in wanting to do kick boxing; we did not have that class but she liked the karate classes. Angela began at White belt, but because she had had previous martial arts experience and knew Kata (especially the Heians) she quickly earned her Green Belt. Angela received her promotion to Purple Belt in May 2014. She Is liked and respected by all as an excellent training partner and a formidable sparring opponent!

We asked Angela some questions about her training and her experience at JPMAA:

When did you first begin training at JPMAA (or Mass Bay BJJ)?
I joined in January 2013. I started out with a free trial and then I never left!
Do you train primarily BJJ or Karate, or both?
Primarily Karate.
Do you have prior martial arts experience?
Yes; I started out in Tae Kwon Do when I was 11 years old and did that for around a year before having to let it go. In the eighth grade, my school district brought in martial arts as a PE substitute and I was able to continue doing MA through this program called Kickstart, which is affiliated with a style called Chun Kuk Do. I trained in Chun Kuk Do from 13 to 17 and advanced to red belt before, unfortunately, burning out. I also did competition sparring, kata, and demo.
What motivated you to first start training in martial arts?
Actually, my mother put me in martial arts (and swimming) as a way to deal with asthma. Being that I was obsessed with martial arts as a movie genre, I thought it was a great idea.
How did you first learn about JP Martial Arts Academy?
I’ve lived in JP since Aug 2012 and would walk past the dojo while it was in its building stages. I made a mental note of checking it out at the beginning of the following year.
What do you like most about training in Karate?
I like training in karate because I think there’s something really beautiful about going through steps for kata and then exhibiting hidden strength through sparring. I think my explanation makes kata and sparring sound like they’re worlds apart when they’re really two sides of the same coin.
How has training in martial arts changed or improved your life?
I think it’s made me a calmer, more centered person and has allowed me a positive space to channel emotions. Having martial arts in my life really helped me keep myself in check as a teenager.
What do you like the most about training at JPMAA?
I like the open, familial atmosphere. JPMAA is definitely a come-as-you-are dojo, and I’ve never felt uncomfortable or judged for how I look, how I present myself, etc. I think of my dojo mates as family.
What are your goals for your training?
Mentally: Patience and persistence. I can be a bit impatient, which is why I often try to learn many other things at the same time, which causes my actual goals for the next belt to fall by the wayside. Training kind of forces me to remember that I am not involved in a race and that if I am to learn something well, it will take time. Physically: Locking down some kata for one of my weapons (tonfa and bow).

JP Martial Arts owner and head instructor David Shim has this to say about Angela:
She works hard in class and I know that she has had to balance a college and graduate student life with her training. No small task that! She is a fierce competitor and she is known as “Killer 4” (“Killer” is a title that has developed for those of the female students in our school who when you go against them, you know you are in for a butt whoopin’). Angela is a terrific student and training partner. If you want to know where the holes are in your stand up game, spar with Angela and she will be more than happy to show you!!

Congratulations Angela!!!!

MARCH Student of the Month: Jennifer Tisdell

Jennifer Tisdell:  JP Martial Arts Student of the Month

JP Martial Arts Academy is pleased to name Jennifer Tisdell as our March Student of the Month3

Jen was one of the first people to walk through the Academy door when we first opened in January 2013, and she quickly became one our most dedicated students.  She originally walked in for the first class of the Saturday morning self-defense series offered at the time. She had no prior experience, but had had an interest in karate as a child. Jen also said that because she takes the T and walks everywhere, she had been thinking about looking for some self-defense classes, when one day she walked past our newly opened Academy and came in to try out self-defense class.  Not long after that Jen took her first Karate class, her first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class, and became one of our first members in February 2013.   

Jen has continued to train in both Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.  She earned her both her BJJ Blue Belt and her Karate Purple belt in September 2014.

Jen says, “What I like most about training in martial arts is the varied exercise and the fact that I’m learning something new every time I attend class.  Martial arts training has allowed me to continue to exercise regularly without getting bored. Also, I have had the opportunity to meet people that have a similar interest as I do and make new friends.  My confidence and awareness have gotten stronger since I began training; I feel I have confidence to avoid unwanted situations.

1I love the instructors and the other students and JPMAA. The instructors are knowledgeable and helpful, and the Academy has a very collaborative, friendly and relaxed atmosphere.  After a busy and stressful day at work, I know I will have a great workout.”  As an added note, last year Jen moved from Medford to Jamaica Plain to be closer to the dojo. That’s dedication!

Jen’s goals for her training include continuing to learn the history of martial arts and to become stronger and make the movements a part of her everyday life.  She also plans to continue her training to earn her Black belts in both Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

This is what David Shim, JPMAA owner and Head Instructor has to say about Jen:

“Jen is an awesome student. Since the start of our school she has taken both karate and BJJ. She has a blue belt in BJJ in a purple belt in karate. She works diligently and attends so many classes. When she can she helps with the little kids which is always appreciated. I look forward to her attaining higher belts.”


JPMAA extends our sincere congratulations to Jen for her achievements to date, and we look forward to helping you continue your martial arts journey at JP Martial Arts.  Congratulations for being named our March Student of the Month!


February Student of the Month:  Josh Parker


Congratulations to Josh Parker, our JP Martial Arts Academy February Student of the Month!

Josh first began training at JP Martial Arts Academy (then Mass Bay Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) in September of 2014.  He trains in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Karate, training BJJ three times a week and Karate once a week.  He is currently working towards the third stripe on his BJJ white belt.

Why did you first begin training at JPMAA?
I was always interested in learning jiu-jitsu and wanted to learn more about grappling. When I heard there was a gym on the other side of JP I had to come in and see what BJJ was and what was different about Brazilian and Japanese Jiu-jitsu.

Did you have experience with other martial arts?

Yes, I have a lot of different martial arts that I have trained in. I believe my first was Tae-kwon-do, which I did from when I was 8 until I was 11.  When I was 12 my father opened up his own Dojo in the Saco River area where he taught Tae-kwon-do, Jeet Kun Do (JKD), and Tai-jitsu.  I decided to start learning JKD which I thought to be the most realistic self defense martial art.  When I was 14 I moved to Virginia with my mom and I learned Fencing and Western Boxing for several years.  When I moved to Boston I took a couple of years off before joining JPMAA (then Mass. Bay BJJ).

What do you like most about training in (BJJ) (Karate) Martial Arts?
I like karate because it has a well rounded fighting style compared to boxing. Kicks I believe are very important, and a well-placed kick can win a fight. I also didn’t like boxing because I hate being punched in the face. Sparring in karate gives me the experience of fighting without full contact, which I enjoy.

I enjoy BJJ because it allows me do live training and when I roll I can try my hardest and not have to worry about hurting the other person or being hurt, which I think helps me know my limits and gives me probably the best cardio workout I can get.


What do you like the most about training at JPMAA?
I like the teachers and the students. They are all very supportive and I have seen a good martial artist community growing through JPMAA.

What are your goals for your training?
Well like everyone I would love a black belt. But more immediate I would like to compete and do well while competing.  I would like to add that since training in BJJ I am in the best shape I have ever been in.  And I can feel how much stronger I am now as opposed to last year when I had just started.  Training in Martial Arts has allowed me to focus more clearly when at work and to not get stressed about things others normally stress over.

Josh recently competed in a submission-only tournament held in December in  Richmond, VA, sponsored by US Grappling, and placed second in the Novice No-Gi Division.  He intends to compete in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitusu Federation (IBJJF) Boston Open, to be at UMass Boston in April.

Josh is originally from Maine and regularly visits the Saco area. He moved to Boston in 2011. When he’s not training he works as a Baker at Blackbird Doughnuts.  He also enjoys cooking and blogging about food with his girlfriend.


Here’s what David Shim, our head instructor, has to say about Josh:  “Josh is a quiet but earnest student.  He works hard at his training and I have been impressed with his willingness to learn.  He is not afraid of mistakes or putting himself into vulnerable positions during training if he believes he will learn something from it.    He is also a really nice guy to know and I look forward to trying his baked goods!”

JP Martial Arts would like to extend our sincere congratulations to Josh Parker for being our February Student of the Month.  He works hard in his training and we look forward to seeing him continue his Martial Arts journey.



We are pleased to announce that our very first JP Martial Arts Academy “Student of the Month” is a family of four: Kevin, Karen, Teagan and Calder Townsend.

Teagan, age 11, first began training Karate and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with Sensei Shim at the West Roxbury YMCA 3 years ago, when she was 8 years old, and now has her Purple Belt in Karate. Calder, age 6, joined JPMAA 7 months ago, and was recently promoted to Yellow Belt in Karate. Karen began training 3 months ago, and Kevin just began one month ago in December.


We asked Kevin, Karen, Teagan and Calder why they began training martial arts and what they like about it:

Teagan says she began training in the martial arts because she wanted to be a strong girl and gain confidence and strength, and have fun at the same time. She says martial arts has “made me stronger and happier. It’s also helped me set achievable goals.”

Calder also joined the karate classes because he thought it looked like fun, and he says “it’s made me stronger.”

Karen says that she decided to begin training at JP Martial Arts because “I thought it looked like fun, and it would be a great work out and would give me some bonding time with my daughter. Training is giving me a new way to bond with Teagan and to release some of the stress of my day while getting a great workout.”

Kevin, who has some Karate experience, says, “I wanted to return to something that I began as a child and I thought it would be a great thing to do as a family. I’m also interested in the activities that are demanding of both the mind and the body. Because I am at the beginning of my training here, currently it is giving me a new ritual and new personal goals. It allows me to focus and escape my other daily obligations while still spending time with my family.”


What do you like best about training at JP Martial Arts Academy?

Teagan: “I like the community I train with, they feel like family, I mean I’ve known them for so long. They have all taught me something at one point whether it was showing me where I was open in sparring or teaching me a whole kata. They have all really helped me progress farther through the belts, but not just that they have taught me what karate really is.”

Calder: “I feel comfortable and confident training here, I know someone is always ready to help me.”

Karen: “I really like the community here. We talk a lot about the importance of training partners, and everyone I’ve met or worked with here has gone above and beyond to be a great training partner.”

Kevin: “For me, I think being part of a community of people who are here to better themselves but who are continually ready to help elevate and challenge each other. There is a fantastic feeling of mutual respect and a playful kind of rigor that allows the training to be serious and sincere.”

Congratulations to the Townsend Family for being our first
JP Martial Arts “Student of the Month”!