Meet our Instructors
Shihan Michelle, CMA, RSME is a 5th degree Black Belt, 5-time World Oyama Knockdown Champion and holds many North American Open Tournament Championship titles in kata and kumite. She won the Canadian Kyokushin Knockdown Division in 2001 and took 2nd place, plus the Fighting Spirit Award at the Seidokaikan “Knockdown Kings” tournament at Hunter College in NYC 2002. On October 9, 2004 she completed 61 consecutive fights with multiple opponents in the historic “A Woman’s Right To Fight” held at the Manhattan Ballroom in NYC. The event was created to showcase the fighting spirit of the extraordinary women who practice full-contact karate and the event drew participants from the United States, Japan and Canada.
As a Laban Certified Movement Analyst and Somatic Educator she is a uniquely qualified instructor devoted to people of all ages and backgrounds discovering and developing grace and power through consistent practice.
She studied Iaido (AUSKF) with Renshi Pam Parker at Ken Zen Dojo and was awarded the rank of Nidan (2004-2009), Yang Style Tai Chi with the late Grandmaster Cheng Hsiang Yu, Embodied Anatomy and Kinesiology with Amy Matthews, Anatomy and Kinesiology with Irene Dowd, 160 contact hours of Integral Anatomy (cadaver dissection) with Gil Headley, PHD, Experiential Anatomy, Embryology, with Bonnie Bainbridge-Cohen, and Infant Developmental Movement Education courses from the school of Body-Mind Centering.
Her book, Brain Breaks for the Classroom, was written for Scholastic Teaching Resources and published in 2009 and she is honored to have had her article, What’s Your Next Move; Consult Your Reflexes, included in Exploring Body-Mind Centering; An Anthology of Experience and Method published by North Atlantic Books.
Sensei David Adams is a 3rd degree Black Belt at Ken Wa Kan Dojo. He began his study of karate in 1994 under Soshu Shigeru Oyama at World Oyama Headquarters in New York City and received his Black Belt. He continued his training until Soshu retired in 2004. Emboldened by the need to learn and grow he began his study with Shihan Michelle Gay. After a few years of study, she asked him to begin teaching, and with that he truly began to learn.
He teaches a weekly self defense class at the dojo and has co-taught the Safe & Sound Preventative Self Defense Seminar with Shihan Michelle for 5 years.
A model of strength and compassion he has taught karate in the Afterschool Program at PS 11 since 2013.
Sensei David has also been studying with Shihan Hal Lehrman for the last 10 years at Aikido of Park Slope.
One of Sensei David’s main goals remains to empower the student by helping them reach their highest potentials. OSU!
Sensei Diane Bank is a third degree black belt who began training in karate at World Oyama Karate HQ in 2001. She began assisting as an instructor in 2008 and in 2011 was awarded the rank of Sensei. She maintains her own consistent training schedule and teaches several classes a week. She has also completed The Society for Martial Arts Instruction’s Level One and Two Somatic based instructor training.
Becoming an instructor at Karate-Do Ken Wa Kan has been a wonderful experience to explore the precision and intention of our basic techniques, especially Kata and how they are ultimately utilized in sparring. I’m continually inspired by the progress and growth of our students in their martial arts practice and wowed by their commitment and determination.
Sensei Diane is also a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University in the Drama Department with a BFA in Action. She studied Stage Movement with Jewel Walker and Stage Combat with B.H. Barry. While at CM-U, her class was the first to be certified in the U.S. as proficient in stage combat by The Society of British Fight Directors. Diane is a published playwright and has acted in plays in Regional Theaters and in New York. She was a member of the Playwrights unit of the Obie Award winning theatre, The New Group. The New Group produced her plays, HALFWAY HOME and NOTHING TO DREAM ABOUT> She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association and the Dramatists Guild of America. Sensei Diane has two children, Max and Chloe.
Sensei Robert Gay , Sandan (Third Degree Black Belt) began training in full contact karate at World Oyama Karate HQ in 1995 and earned a black belt in 1999. He has been closely involved with Karate-Do Ken Wa Kan since the inception of the school in 2011 and is the Chairmen of the Society for Martial Arts Instruction. Sensei Bob also trained Tai Chi ,Yang Style/Long Form with the late Grandmaster Cheng Hsiang Yu and now teaches Tai Chi at SFMAI. The combinations of the precise and measured movements of Tai Chi and the strong, purposeful movement of Karate have given Sensei Bob and appreciation of the importance of correct form. The words of his teacher, Master Yu “Must be very correct” echo through Sensei Bob’s practice and represents the foundation of his teaching philosophy. Sensei Bob is also a satistician, financial analyst and Registered Investment Advisor. He has managed an independent corporate accounting data service called GEARS since 1999.
Sensei-dai Zelda Gay: Program Director and 2nd degree black belt at Karate-do Kenwakan began her training in the martial arts at World Oyama Karate Headquarters in 1997. She obtained her black belt in 2006. She took a hiatus during high school and returned to training and teaching during her summers home from Emerson College where she studied drama and fight choreography. She fought her first knockdown competition in April 2016 and has fought Semi Knockdown many times. She teaches in both the children and adult programs.
Sensei Dai Augusto Weber was seven years old when he started training with Shihan Michelle in P.S. 41’s afterschool program. He then went on to train with her at World Oyama Headquarters. He began assisting with Shihan Michelle in the adult and children’s program when he was eighteen years old as an Ikkyu (brown belt with a black stripe) and has taught in both programs for the last five years. Sensei Dai Augusto obtained his First Degree Black Belt in 2014 and his second degree in 2015. He has competed in multiple Semi Knockdown Karate Fighting competitions and in May 2017 competed in his first Full Knockdown Karate Fighting competition and hopes to do more in the future. “My goal is to keep all students motivated and wanting more and to help them push themselves to their full potential.”
Sempai Emilio Enriquez is a 2nd degree black belt and instructor at Ken Wa Kan Karate. He began his training at seven years old while he was attending P.S. 41 with Shihan Michelle. He obtained his black belt in 2011 when he was twelve years old and continued to train throughout high school. He obtained his second dan (second degree black belt) in 2016 and became an instructor after graduating. He is currently an instructor in the children’s program as well as the head counselor for Ken Wa Kan Karate/Jedi Day Camp.
Sempai Hugo Thomson started training when he was seven years old with Shihan Michelle in City & Country School’s afterschool program. At the time classes were held in a Church basement. Shihan Michelle then brought him to World Oyama Karate Headquarters. He stopped training when he was thirteen years old and left with the rank of ikkyu (Brown belt with a black stripe.) He then returned as an adult during the Spring of 2016. He went on to receive Shodan Rank (Black Belt) in December of 2017. Sempai Hugo has been teaching in the children’s program since the Fall of 2016 and now teaches in both the children’s and adult programs. He has competed in Full Knockdown Karate Competitions and is committed to learning everything there is to know about Karate as a way of life as well as training to become a Full Knockdown Karate Champion.
Sempai Sam Vandergrinten started practicing in Martial Arts when he was four years old in a Korean style called Tang Soo Do at the Rhinebeck Karate Academy, When he was nine years old he obtained his first degree black belt in that style. He began training with Shihan Michelle in 2009 when he was eleven and promoted to his first degree black belt in the Summer of 2015 at the Ken Wa Kan Karate Summer Retreat. He has began assisting in children’s classes in P.S. 11’s afterschool program with Sensei David since 2015 and now assists in the children’s program at the dojo.