2nd Dan – Okinawan Shorinryu Karatedo
Sensei Thomas Taylor, Jr. a 2nd Degree Black Belt (Nidan) was born in 1974 in Norfolk, Virginia and moved to Chesapeake, Virginia, at the age of 6. He started taking karate classes when he was 12 years old at the local recreation center in Great Bridge in 1987. Thomas used to love kung-fu flicks on TV and wanted to learn martial arts ever since he could remember. Even as a child, he knew he could make it to Black Belt if he started training because he never quits until he reaches his goal. His first instructor was John Ballou, and he took classes from him for about 2 months. He was too young to remember what style it was, but he tested for his first belt and passed. However, his family moved to Suffolk before it could be presented to him, and he was unable to continue to take classes there.
After moving to Suffolk, Thomas heard about karate classes being offered at the Brooks Racquet and Swim Club, now the YMCA. He went to check it out and noticed that Kyoshi Bateman was teaching, but he did not speak with him. He poked his head in the door, watched for a few moments and left. When he came back about three weeks later to sign up, Kyoshi Bateman had left and a new guy named Greg Switzer was going to start teaching classes. It didn’t matter to him who was teaching just so long as he learned karate. The style was Kempo and things went well. However, Greg Switzer left the YMCA and moved to another facility. Thomas followed him there and continued to take classes, making it to the third belt, an orange belt. Eventually, Greg Switzer stopped teaching, and Thomas had nowhere to go. He had learned an important lesson, be sure the instructor is truly certified and learn all about the organization they are with before signing up for classes. Unfortunately, many people make this mistake.
While training under Greg Switzer, Thomas met Sensei Richard Copeland, and they became like brothers. Sensei Richard began training under Kyoshi Bateman while he was teaching at Birdsong Recreation Center. He told Thomas how good of a teacher he was and how much he had improved in just a few weeks. Sensei Thomas joined Jeff Bateman’s School of Karate in 1988. Both Richard and Thomas progressed to become Black Belts. Sensei Richard eventually moved away, but Sensei Thomas continued training. He received his Shodan in 1992, and his Nidan in 1996. Today, he continues to teach and take karate but not for winning trophies or even advancing through the ranks, which was his original motivation. He continues to take karate for three reasons. First, he wants to help his sensei, Kyoshi Bateman, with his school. Second, he wants to teach because he loves teaching. Third, he wants to stay sharp at his skills because you can forget almost everything you’ve learned in just a few short years if you don’t continue to train.
Outside of karate, Sensei Thomas is a full-time minister. He travels around the East Coast preaching as an evangelist and does short-term mission trips to various countries preaching the Gospel. He also ministers weekly in jails and teaches for the International College of Bible Theology. Sensei Thomas has a lovely wife, Colleen, and two sons, Tommy and Ben