On Saturday – May 6, 2017 Sensei Pena was awarded his 8th Degree Blackbelt (Hachidan) certification in Columbia, SC by Ms. Germon Miller, Mr. Ricky Taylor, and Mr. Larry Bullard. This promotion was confirmed by Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Garry Dillingham, Mr. Lee Farmer, Mr. Mike Hess, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Mr. Marty Knight, and Mr. Danny McCall. This promotion was later acknowledged on Thursday – February 8, 2018 in River Vale, NJ by Mr. Michael DePasquale Jr., the son of Sensei Pena’s original instructor Mr. Michael DePasquale Sr. (RIP).
On Saturday – July 29, 2017 Sensei Pena was declared and confirmed as the Headmaster of Zen Shotokai Karate and Kobudo by Ms. Maria Kimmey, wife of the late O’Sensei Virgil Kimmey, 10th Degree Blackbelt (Judan) who passed away May 22 in the year of our Lord 2002. This proclamation was confirmed by Mr. Larry Bullard, Mr. Charles Burris, Mr. Sam Chapman, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Mike Hess, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Mr. Marty Knight, Mr. Danny McCall, Mr. Jerry Piddington, Mr. Ricky Smith, Mr. Ricky Taylor, and Mr. James White.
“For you see it’s not the rank that matters but who signs your certificate – these are people that believe in you, and I feel honored that these incredible men believe in me. Thank you to everyone that pushes me to work hard every day to improve myself and my students.” – Sensei Pena