The Academy is staffed by black belt instructors, led
by Shihan James True. A brief biography of each of the instructors can
be read below.
Glossary of terms
James A. True
Jim True was born in Boston,
Ma. in 1958, and raised in Waltham, Ma. He attended Bentley College
and received his BA in Education and Behavioral Sciences in 1980.
Shihan True was promoted to Hachidan in Shorin-ryu Karate 2018. He
is a Godan in Okinawan Kobudo, and has certification as an SKKAA
Senior Instructor. He began his training in 1975 at the Waltham
YMCA under the instruction of Thomas A. Wirtanen, a student of Paul
Keller. Shihan True was promoted to Shodan in Small Circle Jujitsu
with nationally known instructor, Dave Castoldi, 7th degree black
belt in 2007. Shihan True has trained since the mid-1990s in Shorinji-ryu
karate and weaponry with Sensei Brian Ricci, a senior student of
Master Richard Kim. Mr. True has also trained with Hanshi Kim. Mr.
True has also studied Iaido (the Japanese art of drawing and cutting
with the sword) and T'ai Chi Ch'uan (Taijiquan).
Shihan True began teaching martial arts part-time
for the Waltham YMCA in 1979. In the spring of 1980 he opened the
Shorin-ryu Karate Academy in a small garage, teaching on a part-time
basis with about twenty students. Today the Academy has grown to
over three hundred active students, with off-site programs at numerous
public and private schools. Among these are the Waltham YMCA, Bentley
College and the New Jewish High School of Waltham.
Shihan True has helped to develop youth programs
such as the "Bully Buster," "Stranger Danger,"
and "Women Aware" an adult women's self-defense program.
In 2000, Shihan True formed Safety Skills Development Group, a company
that teaches safety awareness and character development programs
for youths, adults, schools, and businesses in the greater Boston
area. Thirty years of training and teaching have built his commitment
to providing educational martial arts and safety-awareness programs
for the SKKAA and community to continue to grow in a positive direction.
Shihan True is Vice President and Vice Chairman
of the Board of the SKKAA, a member of its Executive Committee,
and the SKKAA's Assistant Chief Instructor.
Shihan True is a contributor to Sensei:
A Handbook for SKKAA Instructors and Their Students (2001) and I
Remember When (2004) and is co-author of Little Dragons and Tigers:
A Handbook for SKKAA Youth Students, Their Instructors, and Parents
Steven Tulimieri is a Head Instructor and
Dai Sempai at the Academy teaching the Monday night adult advanced
Dai Sempai Steven Tulimieri was born and raised in Waltham, MA.
He attended Bentley College and received a BS in Accountancy in
1991, and an MBA from Bentley Graduate School in 1998.
Sensei Steven began training in Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate
in 1984 under Shihan James True. After receiving his Shodan in 1988,
he taught karate for the Martial Arts Club at Bentley College. He
was the Dai Ni Sempai of the association at that time and the Dai
Sempai of the True Martial Arts Academy, where he teaches, under
Shihan James True. In February 2005, he was named Dai Sempai of
Sensei Steven has experience in wrestling, submission ground fighting,
kendo, and Iaido. He was promoted to Shodan in Jujitsu and weapon
defenses under Professor Dave Castoldi in 2007. In 2004 he was promoted
to the rank of Godan in Shorin-Ryu Karate and Yodan in Kobudo. He
is a member of the Board of Directors of the SKKAA and a contributor
to I Remember II (2004).
Ken Stiles is an Instructor at the Academy
teaching the Wednesday night adult intermediate/advanced class.
He received his BS degree in business communication from Bentley
College, and is currently a manager of contracts and sales administration
for Zoll Medical Corporation in Chelmsford, MA.
Sensei Ken started his training in 1988
under Shihan James True, and currently holds a Yodan in Shorin-Ryu
Karate-Do, Sandan in Okinawan Kobudo, and Instructor Rank. He has
also trained in Tang-Soo-Do, Kempo, and boxing.
Sensei Ken has had extensive experience
with teaching most of the classes in our curriculum, including children
and adults, beginner to advanced levels; cardio kickboxing; tai
chi; weapons. Sensei Ken holds certification in AED Heartsaver and
Donny Wong was born in Chelsea, MA., 1961. Received
his Associates in Science. He has multiple certificates and accomplishments
for computers and software over the years. He currently holds a Printed Circuit
Board Designer position for a large company in MA.
Sensei Donny began training with Shihan James True about
1990, and achieved his Shodan in Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Karate in 1995.
Sensei Donny received the rank of Godan in Matsubayashi
Shorin-Ryu Karate in 2009, and Sandan in Okinawan Kobudo in 2005. He also holds
head instructor status at the True Martial Arts Academy of Waltham.
Along with all the Okinawan weapons, Sensei Donny studies Iaido (The art of
drawing the sword) in the Omori-Ryu system (The old way from Papa Chris Clark
thru Shihan James True). Along with the Katana, the Jo (short staff) is closest
to his heart.
Sensei Donny teaches all levels of Karate and Kobudo
for adults and childrens classes at the Shorin-Ryu Karate Acadamy of Waltham.
Sensei Donny has continued to support teaching at the Northeast Shorin-Ryu Karate
Academy of Andover over the years.
Sensei Donny has held Karate Camps in Oregon and Wyoming.
Donny considers these camps great experience. A must for all instructors.
Sensei Donny is a firm believer in the push / pull system
at the dojo. This process encourages the beginners to push the advanced, and the
advanced to pull the beginners.
Sensei Donny is currently seeking Black belt in Small Circle
Jujitsu and weapons defense thru Professor David Castoldi.
Donny is married with two children. He resides in Hudson, NH
with his family.
Tony Kelley is an Assistant Instructor
at the Academy. Sensei Tony fills for instructors as needed, and
has taught children’s karate classes and beginner through
advanced levels. He received his Masters in Education, and is currently
an elementary school teacher.
Sensei Tony is a Yodan in Shorin-Ryu Karate-Do,
a Sandan in Okinawan weaponry, and holds assistant instructor rank;
he has been training in karate for 15 years. He also trains in Philippino
martial arts. Among his other interests, he lists that he is a “Vietnam
veteran and a bad golfer.” His favorite quote is: “If
I hit you, that’s my responsibility. If you hit me, that’s
Marisa Cimino is an Instructor at the Academy
co-teaching the Thursday night adult intermediate classes, and is
a co-instructor for the Woman Aware Self-defense Program. She received
her BA, magna cum laude, from Boston College in 1978, and is currently
an accountant/partner. Sensei Marisa started her training under
Shihan James True in 1991, and was promoted to Yodan in Shorin-Ryu
Karate-do in May 2005, Sandan in Okinawan weaponry in August 2006
and holds the teaching rank of Instructor. Sensei Marisa has extensive
experience in teaching karate and self-defense, especially to women
and children. Her experience includes:
Beginner & Intermediate Woman’s Class,
True Martial Arts Academy 1994 - 2005
MacKenzie Center Children’s Karate Classes, Newton 1997- present
Baker Elementary School Karate Classes, Brookline 1996-present
Owls Head Montessori Preschool Karate Classes, West Roxbury 2001-
Woman Aware Self- Defense Workshops 1994- present
Memorial Spaulding After School Karate Classes, Newton 1995- present
Boston Public Library, Boston, MA Stranger Danger & Intro Karate
Cardio Kickboxing Instructor, Newton 1997-2004
Williams Ext Day After School Karate Classes, Newton 1997-2000
YMCA Karate Classes, Newton & Brighton 1997-2000
Oak Hill Middle School Karate Classes, Newton 1999-2001
Beaver Country Day School Summer Program, Brookline 2000
Sensei Marisa holds certification in Cardio Karate/Fitness Kickboxing
by NAPMA (2003) and CPR (2005). She has contributed to several karate
publications, including I Remember II, Stories of Training in the
ASKA (2004) and Little Dragons and Tigers: A Handbook for ASKA Youth
Students, Their Instructors, and Parents (2002). As part of our
instructors’ commitment to continuing their education, Sensei
Marisa is learning ASL to facilitate instruction of deaf adults
Sensei Marisa is married and the mother of two
sons, who attained Junior Black Belt and Brown Belt ranks.
Lynda St. James
Lynda St. James was born in 1946, Wellesley,
MA. She holds a BS in Theatre and Education, graduated Magna cum
Laude from Emerson College, and is a member of the Gold Key Honor
Society. She has taught theatre, mass media, speech, film and TV
at local high schools and middle schools in Massachusetts.
An accomplished actor and singer, Lynda spent her early years in
Los Angeles, many of which were touring the US and Canada with Andy
Williams and the GoodTime Singers. She now owns and operates The
Cameo Agency, Boston’s oldest model & talent agency specializing
in kids and teens. In addition, she runs a professional on-camera
workshop for kids desiring to break into the TV and film business.
Her “kids” can be seen on TV, in major motion pictures,
as well as in print and on the Internet. She is a member of Screen
Actors Guild, New England Film Society, and Mass Media Alliance.
Lynda received her Shodan in 1996, just
days after celebrating her 50th birthday. She now holds the rank
of Sandan in empty hand, 2002; Nidan in Weapons, 2004; and Full
Instructor, 2004. She has also studied Naginata - the art of the
long sword, and is currently studying Omoriryu Iaido.
During Fall 2005, Sensei Lynda is offering
classes at the YMCA in Franklin, MA, including Woman A.W.A.R.E.,
an adult beginner class and a Senior Self-defense class. She is
also holding seminars in Senior Self-defense at the Senior Center
One of my major goals in karate has always
been to bring self-defense to women and girls. Now, as an aging
“baby boomer,” I have begun to specialize in training
people my age and older in the principles of safety and self preservation.
My Sensei, Jim True, has been a wonderful inspiration and mentor
in karate. I hope to be able to pass on what I have learned and
am still learning.
Kristen Pepe was born in Tewksbury Massachusetts in 1969. She graduated
from Tewksbury High School and attended the University of Massachusetts
graduating with a Bachelors Degree in Accounting.
She received her Shodan in Shorin-ryu karate in 1995 and attained
her Nidan in 1997, and her Sandan in 2005. She is a Nidan in Kobudo.
She also holds the rank of instructor with the SKKAA.
Under the instruction of Sensei Fran Vall, Sensei Kristen trains
in Naginata, a halberd type weapon used almost exclusively by samurai
women. She is a member of both the United States Naginata Federation,
and the East Coast Naginata Federation. She currently holds the
rank of Sankyu (3rd Rank).
Sensei Kristen is married to Sensei Michael Pepe of the SKKAA and
together they have two children, Morgan and Nicholas. Sensei Kristen
holds the title of Secretary/Treasurer and is a member of the Board
of Directors of SKKAA.
Bob McLaren is an Assistant Instructor
at the Academy. Sensei Bob teaches the Tuesday and Thursday night
adult beginner classes. He attended New England Telephone Technology
Schools and U.S. Navy Motion Picture Operators School. Sensei Bob
currently is an operations manager for a telecommunications company,
and has taught for the US Coast Guard and for New England Telephone.
He is a veteran of the US Coast Guard, is trained and certified
as a deep sea and scuba diver, and is OSHA certified.
Sensei Bob started his training in October 1991,
and was promoted to Sandan in February 2007. In August 2006 he was
promoted to Shodan in Okinawan Weaponry and Assistant Instructor.
In addition to karate, Sensei Bob works out regularly at the gym
and loves to travel, go scuba diving and snorkeling, and watch movies.
Among his accomplishments, he notes his attainment of his black
belt and that he is a good husband, father, and grandfather. Among
his favorite martial arts books are “The Essence of Okinawan
Karate-Do,” and the Association Training Manuals.
Sensei Bob is married to Denise Campo, and
has three daughters and eight grandchildren.
Lora Gross-Kostka is an Assistant Instructor
at the Academy. Sempai Lora proudly co-teaches the Saturday morning
Family/Youth Beginner/Youth Intermediate class with her sons, Philip
(Shodan) and Sean Kostka (Shodan-Ho). She received her BS in nursing,
and currently is a risk manager and patient safety coordinator at
Cambridge Health Alliance. She is a registered nurse, certified
case manager, and paralegal as well.
Sempai Lora started her training under Shihan
James True in 1996, and was promoted to Nidan in Shorin–Ryu
Karate-do in August 2005 and to Shodan in Okinawan Weaponry in August
2006. She currently holds assistant instructor rank in the S.K.K.A.A.
Sempai Lora has also trained in Tai chi since 2000. Her other interests
include reading, beading, fitness, and helping others. Her favorite
quote is, “ One meaning, One chance,”
Dan Glass is a Teaching Assistant and all-around
helper at the Academy. Sempai Dan co-teaches the Saturday morning
Jr. Ninjas’ class with his wife, Sempai Tania. He received
his BS in electrical engineering from Merrimack College, and is
currently a principal electrical engineer for a defense contractor.
Sempai Dan was promoted to Nidan in Shorin Ryu
Karate and Shodan in Kobudo in August 2005, and to teaching assistant
in August 2004. He also briefly trained in Kempo, and has trained
in the Tai Chi short form since January 2001. In the past, Sempai
Dan was certified as a basic swimming instructor and first responder.
Well known for his wide breadth of knowledge, his hobbies include
piano, music in general, hiking/biking/canoeing/camping, and auto/home
repair. His favorite quote is “First set your heart right.”
Tania Vera is the part-time Program Director
and a Teaching Assistant at the Academy. Sempai Tania provides general
office support and student support services. She teaches both adult
and children’s classes, including the Jr. Ninja (ages 6-9
beginners), Ninja (ages 8-14 intermediate), and Samurai (ages 8-14
beginner) classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. She has also taught
several offsite afterschool programs in Waltham and Belmont, and
co-teaches the Saturday morning Jr. Ninjas class with her husband,
Sempai Tania received her Masters in psychology
in 1998 from Clark University, and worked for over eight years in
the field of child abuse research and support services to families
and children before making the transition to part-time work at the
Academy in January 2004. She is certified in First Aid and Adult,
Child, and Infant CPR.
Sempai Tania received her Nidan in Shorin Ryu
Karate and Kobudo Shodan weapons rank in August 2005, and her Teaching
Assistant rank in August 2004. She has trained in the Tai Chi short
form since January 2001, and has attended offsite seminars on Tai
Chi, Qigong, and Traditional Chinese Medicine. She has been assisting
with classes at the Academy since May 2002.
Her other skills and interests include:
learning to play the piano, hiking/biking/camping, healthy/simple
living, and learning new skills. Sempai Tania is married and the
proud parent of Ella Glass born May 28, 2006, two cats and Pupa,
a goffin’s cockatoo.
Kobudo: the way of Weapons
Shorin-Ryu Karate-do and Kobudo Association of America
Dai Sempai: Senior Instructor
Dai Ni Sempai: Assistant Senior Instructor
Instructor & Assistant Instructor
Sandan & above
Sempai: Assistant Instructor & Teaching Assistant
Nidan & Shodan
Black Belt Rank
Judan: 10th degree
Kudan: 9th degree
Hachidan: 8th degree
Nanadan: 7th degree
Rokudan: 6th degree
Godan: 5th degree
Yodan: 4th degree
Sandan: 3rd degree
Nidan: 2nd degree
Shodan: 1st degree
Shodan- Ho: Jr. Black Belt (under 16 years old)