Over the years, the NK schools have produced some of the finest martial artists in the country. They have produced World Champions in nearly every arena of competition including professional Kickboxing and Sport Karate tournaments (in both Forms and Sparring). It is often said that a student could walk into any major martial arts tournament in the United States and the competitors and promoters will know about the National Karate Schools.
That tradition of top fighters and form competitors continues today with dozens of NK Black Belts holding top World Rankings and Championships. Although most students do not desire to be world-class competitors, it is nice to know that the training they are receiving is of world-class quality.
No other single martial arts school in America has produced as many world rated competitors as the National Karate Schools.
Alex Dingmann – Team Hayabusa
Mr. Dingmann has been rated the #2 light weight fighter in the world, the #2 middle weight fighter, and most recently the #2 light heavy weight fighter in the country. He is also one of the few martial arts athletes who is able to compete at the world level in both fighting and form – as he has also won numerous championships as a forms competitor.
He has always chosen to decline offers from other national competition teams to fight with the National Karate uniform. Fighting alongside fellow NK teammates Hamed Firouzi, BJ Carnahan, & Jamie Cravens Team NK has won multiple team fighting championships beating teams like Team Paul Mitchell, CJB, Straight UP and many more. Throughout his competition career, Alex Dingmann has won over 40 Grand Championship awards. He has competed in the World Championships in Dublin, Ireland 3 times and one year made it to the Gold Medal round!
Alex still competes at a national level and most recently won his division in “Super Fights” and then fought against fellow teammate BJ Carnahan in the finals of the Diamond Nationals. Although, he still loves training and competing, he has found a new passion for coaching other National Karate martial artists in high level competition.
Mr. Dingmann says, “At National Karate I have been blessed to have some of the best martial artists in the world as mentors and friends. The skills that I have developed, and the relationships that I have made over the years have molded me into the man I am today. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to do what I love and for my accomplishments.”
Alonzo Payne -Team National Karate Chicago
Mr. Payne is also a very successful sport karate competitor. He has beaten some of the best light weight champions in America. He is a member of the Junior USA national fighting team competing for the world championships. The WAKO junior world championships are held in Dublin, Ireland. Mr. Payne enjoys sharing what he has learned as a champion martial artist with his students. He is the Co-Head Instructor at the Bloomingdale, IL National Karate.
Dominic Kraegle -Team AKA
Dominic has been a National Karate of Chicago student since January 2008 where he is currently a 3rd Degree Black belt and is an Instructor at the Bartlett, IL National Karate school. Dominic has been competing on the NASKA circuit for the past 5 years and is a member of Team AKA. In his first year for NASKA he was ranked 5th in the world for fighting and last year, he finished 2nd in the world. He went on to become the NASKA World Champion! This year Dominic qualified to be a member of the USA National Fighting Team and will compete in the World Fighting Championships in Dublin, Ireland.
Dominic has recently decided to also compete in traditional form under Team National Karate and he is currently ranked 7th and has won Grand Champion at one of the biggest tournaments in the country. He is fortunate to train under the guidance of Master Cris Nelson, Master Alex Dingmann, Jennifer Tohtz, Dustin Kook, and Cardal Price. National Karate has helped Dominic with self-discipline, confidence and integrity. Dominic’s goals are to continue on the NASKA circuit and become a world champion.
Josh Becker -Team National Karate Chicago
Josh Becker is a 3rd Degree Black Belt and an Instructor at the Bartlett, IL National Karate School. He is a successful NASKA competitor and last year won first place at the Diamond Nationals. He took both the Silver and Bronze at the WAKO North American Cup. This year Josh Becker qualified as a member of the Junior USA National Fighting Team in the World Championships. The WAKO World Championships are being held in Dublin, Ireland.
Greg Betlach -Team Paul Mitchell
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mr. Betlach started karate in 1988. A gift from his mother of Karate classes for his birthday began his passion for the sport of Karate. Mr. Betlach has competed for Team Paul Mitchell since 2005. Among his many achievements, he is most proud of winning the Men’s Overall Sparring Grand Championship at the Compete Nationals in 2008 and the Capitol Classics in 2010.
Mr. Betlach credits National Karate with building his strong karate skills and competitive spirit, saying, “National Karate has helped me throughout all aspects of my martial arts training. From working out with some of the best competitors in the world like Elias Lemon and Hamed Firouzi to getting training from some of the best instructors around like Scott Masterton. It has been a true blessing to be able continue to train at National Karate.”
Joe Boone -Team Straight Up
Joe Boone teaches at the Brooklyn Park National Karate School. Currently a fourth degree black belt, he began his martial arts training in 1998 and started competing on the NASKA circuit in 2004.
Formerly a top ranked Bo form competitor, Mr. Boone changed gears and has been enjoying success as a point fighter. Early in the 2011 NASKA season, he was asked to join team “Straight Up.” He won the lightweight division in Compete Nationals two years in a row, and won the Middleweight Grand Championship in Philadelphia earlier this year.
Mr. Boone says, “My first instructor, Mr. William Hill, really pushed me to be my best, both in competition and as a person. I owe much of who I am to him.”
Ross Cooke -Team AKA
Ross Cooke has been a student of National Karate Schools (NK) of Chicago since 2002. He is a second-degree black belt, teaching and training at the NK Roselle location.
Ross joined Team AKA in 2011, and competes nationally in point, continuous and team sparring. Prior to joining Team AKA, Ross competed in the NASKA circuit in 2010 under National Karate and was the 2010 number one world ranked fighter in the “boys 12-13 years of age black belt” category for point sparring. Ross’s victories include first-place wins at Diamond Nationals, US Capitol Classic, Pan American and many others within the NASKA circuit. His favorite win was this year’s AKA team fighting victory on stage at the Lone Star Open.
Little did Ross know that his first class at age six would so significantly impact his future and chart a course for his success in karate today. Through his classes at NK, Ross has learned critical lessons in discipline, perseverance, integrity and honor. And he’s been given tremendous opportunities to learn and grow under the leadership of Cardal Price, Jennifer Tohtz, John Mazzola and Cris Nelson. It’s through his classes and mentoring that Ross has found the drive and skills to compete at a national level. NK has fostered in Ross a balance between excellence in competition and excellence in sportsmanship.
Ashley Dahlquist -Team Straight Up
Ashley Dahlquist is 15 years old and trains at the Elk Grove and South Elgin schools in Illinois. She is currently on Team Straight Up and has been for two years. Some of her top tournaments this year are the AKA Grands in Chicago, Ocean States in Rhode Island, and Battle of Atlanta in Georgia, where she has received first place in each. Ashley began her training at National Karate at the age of four and is now currently up for her third degree.
She began training at the Bartlett school under the instruction of Master Nelson. His dedication to the sport has molded her into the person she is today, striving towards success.
Hamed Firouzi -Team Full Circle
Hamed currently is the director of the Hopkins National Karate location. He is also the #1 rated lightweight fighter on NASKA and has been with the #1 Team, “Full Circle” since 2007. He has competed all over the world and is a 3 time Diamonds Superfights Champion.
Hamed’s success can be attributed to the great training he has had with National Karate since 1990. Having had instructors who were top National Competitors, he learned the skills, work ethic and consistency that it takes to be a top competitor. Hamed also believes that having a network of great athletes to train with and help him push himself is vital to his success as a tournament competitor.
Elias Lemon -Team Paul Mitchell
Mr.Lemon is the Director of the Plymouth National Karate school. Currently he is the #2 ranked light heavy weight in NASKA and is the former #1 rated NASKA middle weight. He has been a member of Team Paul Mitchell since 2004 and has traveled all over the world to compete. In 2008 he won the heavy weight super fights at the New England Open and the light weight super fights at the Diamond Nationals.
Mr. Lemon started his training in 1992. He believes it was a combination of his masters’ help and guidance in his early years and his dedication to training now that has helped him get to where he is today. Mr. Lemon says, “If you look at the top fighters in every weight class you will find someone from National Karate, no other organization can even come close to saying that.”
Brendan Rasinksi -Team One Hundred Percent Performance
Mr. Rasinski teaches at the National Karate Rochester. He currently is a 3rd degree black belt. He began his martial arts training in 2002 at the age of 7 and began competing on the NASKA circuit in 2009.
In February 2011, Mr. Rasinski was asked to join Team 100 Percent Performance. Currently, he is ranked 4th in Team Form, 2nd in Traditional Form, 2nd in Traditional Weapons, and 1st in Point Sparring. Some of his major accomplishments include Grand Championships in Traditional Form at the Dixieland Nationals, Gator Nationals, and Battle of Atlanta and a Grand Championship in Traditional Weapons at the Lone Star Open. He is also proud of his Point Sparring victories at the Diamond Nationals as well as team fighting victories at the Compete Nationals, Lone Star Open, and Battle of Atlanta.
Mr. Rasinski credits much of his success to his instructor Mr. Bruce Nelson. “Mr.Nelson has always pushed me to do my very best and achieve my goals. He has always been one of the many people in my life that have always said I could do it.” Brendan is also very grateful for National Karate’s amazing talent who helped lead him to where he is today.
Cardal Price – Team AKA
Mr. Price is currently the director of the National Karate satellite program at the Wheaton Sports Center. Under his tutelage, it has grown to be the largest satellite program in National Karate. Excelling in the Kickboxing fighting style of National Karate, Mr. Price started fighting in NASKA, AKA and NBL tournaments in 2001 as an under belt and black belt competitor. He was #1 in his division and the AKA conference’s National Fighting Championship for 10 consecutive years. Mr. Price is currently the head coach of the youth fighting team on Team AKA and competes on the adult fighting team in the NASKA, NBL and AKA martial arts tournament circuits. Mr. Price credits his fighting and coaching success to National Karate’s world class instructors Mr. Worley, Mr. Larry Carnahan, Mr. Mazzola, Mr. Doniparthi, Ms. Thomas and his Sensei Mr. Cris Nelson. He says that, “These outstanding instructors truly believe in what they teach and have inspired me to lead by example for my sons and students.”
Carson Price – Team AKA
Carson started his martial arts career in 2000 at the age of 4 years old. He says that, “Studying under world class National Karate instructors Mr. Gopi Doniparthi, Mr. John Mazolla, Ms. Pam Thomas and Mr. Cris Nelson helped make me the person he is today.” Carson is a third generation black belt following in the footsteps of his father Cardal Price, and both grandfathers who were Sensei’s in karate and Judo. Today he teaches at the NK/Wheaton Sports Center. Carson has had the opportunity to fight competitors from all over the world in the NASKA, AKA and NBL tournament circuits. In 2011 and 2012 he won the Continuous Fighting Championship at the US Open. In 2011 Carson won NASKA’s 2011 World Champion Title. That same year he also won the World Champion Title in continuous fighting where he was able to display his NK Kickboxing training. In 2012 he is currently ranked #1 in the world. Carson gives all the glory to God and is thankful for his great instruction from National Karate.
Zion Price – Team AKA
Zion is 13 years old and trains at the National Karate School in Elk Grove, IL under the direction of Mr. John Mazzola and Ms. Pam Thomas. Zion grew up in National Karate and on the sport karate tournament circuit, in fact Zion started fighting right after he started walking and hasn’t stopped since. His sport karate career started by winning the Diamond Nationals 5 and under division! More recently he has won 1st Place at the Diamond Nationals, The US Open, Blue Grass Nationals and the Battle of Chicago. He is currently a top ranked fighter in the NASKA tournament circuit. Zion also really enjoys the Samurai training he gets as a black belt in National Karate Schools in Chicago.
Jennifer Tohtz -Team AKA
Mrs. Tohtz teaches at the National Karate school of Bartlett and the National Karate School of Wheaton (which she founded in 2002). She currently is a 3rd degree black belt and actively training for her 4th degree. She began her martial arts training in 1997 under the instruction of Master Nelson and began competing on the NASKA circuit in 1998 and the AKA circuit in 1999. She is currently ranked #1 in Women’s Middle Weight fighting.
Mrs. Tohtz co-founded and joined Team AKA in 2011. She is coach, trainer and sparring competitor on the NASKA and AKA circuits. Prior to joining Team AKA, Mrs. Tohtz competed under Team NK. While Mrs. Tohtz always loves to compete; her favorite wins in 2011 were at the LoneStar Open in Austin, TX and the US Capital Classic in Washington DC. However, her biggest satisfaction has come from training and watching the growth and success of Team AKA’s Jr. Sparring team of Ross Cooke, Carson Price, Zion Price and Dominic Kraegel.
Mrs. Tohtz attributes her love of the sport and success to her many instructors and classmates at National Karate and to the parents of her students. They are all an integral part of the support system that has encouraged and driven her to never stop giving and to never give up. She is proud to be a part of an organization with such a rich history and formula for personal success and plans to continue to serve her instructors and students for many years to come.