Sensei Brian Pena is a certified Blackbelt with 36 years of experience in Martial Arts. Sensei Pena originally started training in the early 1980’s in Yoshitsune Jujutsu in New Jersey under Michael DePasquale Sr. and has been teaching the art of Zen Shotokai Karate & Kobudo in South Carolina since 1990.
Currently ranked at Hachidan (8th Degree Blackbelt) in Zen Shotokai Karate & Kobudo, his most prized accomplishments revolve around his students. Over the years he has trained thousands of men, women, and children from all walks of life, and has promoted 16 students to the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Blackbelt) or higher.
In 2017 Sensei Pena organized a non-profit martial arts venture, “Legends of Carolina Martial Arts” to slowly recognize and honor the Legends, Pioneers, and Icons of martial Arts throughout North & South Carolina over the past 60 years. It is on the shoulders of giants that we can train and live this life.
Sensei Pena is married to Allison Pena, and together they have two beautiful daughters Laney and Gabby. The family owns and operates The Karate Dojo in West Columbia, South Carolina as a full-time venture and labor of love, training hundreds of students each week. The entire family trains and has truly made Karate a way of life – for generations to come.
Martial Arts Rank & Achievement
On Saturday – May 6, 2017 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded his 8th Degree Blackbelt (Hachidan) certification in Columbia, SC. This promotion was confirmed by Mr. Dave Adams, Mr. Michael Allison, Mr. Larry Bullard, Mr. Ron Cherry, Mr. Vic Coffin, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Garry Dillingham, Mr. Lee Farmer, Mr. Mike Hess, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Ms. Maria Kimmey, Mr. Marty Knight, Mr. Joe Martin, Mr. Danny McCall, Ms. Germon Miller, Mr. Doug Perry, Mr. John Stover, and Mr. Ricky Taylor. This promotion was later acknowledged on Thursday – February 8, 2018 in River Vale, NJ by Mr. Michael DePasquale Jr., the son of Sensei Brian Pena’s original instructor Mr. Michael DePasquale Sr. (RIP).
On Saturday – July 29, 2017 Sensei Brian Pena was declared and confirmed as the Owner and 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 and was also at this time gifted O’Sensei Virgil Kimmey’s gold ring which was used as his personal seal for certificates and awards dating back over 50 years. This proclamation was acknowledged and confirmed by O’Sensei Virgil Kimmey’s senior student since 1967, O’Sensei Mike Hess, 10th Degree Blackbelt (Judan), as well as Mr. Larry Bullard, Mr. Charles Burris, Mr. Sam Chapman, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Mr. Marty Knight, Mr. Danny McCall, Mr. Jerry Piddington, Mr. Ricky Smith, Mr. Ricky Taylor, and Mr. James White.
On Saturday – July 28, 2018 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded the master teaching credential and honorific title of ‘Shihan’ in Columbia, SC. This advancement was confirmed by Mr. Charles Burris, Mr. Sam Chapman, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Garry Dillingham, Mr. Mike Hess, Mr. Larry Hodges, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Mr. Marty Knight, Mr. Joe Martin, Ms. Maria Kimmey, Mr. Rick Lee, Mr. Danny McCall, Mr. Lawrence McSwain, Mr. Billee Purvis, Mr. Lamar Sanders, Mr. Randy Smith, Mr. Ricky Smith, Mr. Corky Sikes, Mr. Rick Sparks, and Mr. Ricky Taylor.
On Wednesday – January 15, 2020 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded the AKANA Pinnacle Tomoe by Hanshi Jerry Piddington, Hanshi Danny McCall, and Kyoshi Ricky Smith. This Pinnacle Tomoe Award represents a small inner circle of Sensei who have obtained mastery teaching true Karatedo – mind, body, and spirit. This certification authenticates that Shihan Brian Pena was awarded one of six (#03) Original Tomoe Pendants which shall be recorded in the history of the American Karate Academies National Association.
On Sunday – January 26, 2020 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded the rank of 5th Degree Blackbelt in the art of Kenpo Karate within the Kenpo Karate Institute under Mr. Rick Sparks and confirmed by Mr. Bill Daniels.
“For you see though, it’s not the rank or title that matters, but who signs your certificate – these are people that believe in you, and I feel honored that these incredible men and women believe in me. Thank you to everyone that pushes me to work hard every day to improve myself and my students.” – Sensei Brian Pena
Major Tournament Grand Championship Wins
- All Stars Championships (Acapulco, Mexico)
- AmeriKick Nationals (Atlantic City, NJ)
- Battle of Atlanta (Atlanta, GA)
- Battle of Canada (Ontario, Canada)
- Battle of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Great Southeast (Spartanburg, SC)
- Hurricane Nationals (Galveston, TX)
- Jhoon Rhee Internationals (Washington, DC)
- Side Kick Internationals (Washington, DC)
- The Rumble (Raleigh, NC)
- Upstate Open (Rochester, NY)
- Yellow Rose Nationals (San Antonio, TX)
- NBL Super Grands World Games
- 1994 NBL Traditional Forms World Champion (Hollywood, CA)
- 1999 NBL Traditional Weapons World Champion (Niagara Falls, Canada)
Other Martial Arts Accomplishments
- Member of John Chung’s “Side Kick International Competition Team” (1997-1999)
- Promoted the “Carolina Martial Arts Open” (2004 – present)
- 2008 NBL / SKI Tournament of the Year
- Founder of the “Legends of Carolina Martial Arts” (2017)
- Co-Founder of “TCT Sport Martial Arts” (2020)