2023 - Sensei Pena (1)
Sensei Brian Pena is certified at Kudan (9th Degree Blackbelt) with many of South Carolina’s senior Blackbelts and Law Enforcement professionals signing off on his rank. Sensei has 40+ years of experience in training and teaching Martial Arts, originally starting 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.

His most prized accomplishments revolve around his students and their growth within Martial Arts – and Life. Over the years he has trained thousands of men, women, and children from all walks of life. As of May 2024, Sensei has promoted 29 students to the rank of Shodan (1st Degree Blackbelt) or higher within Zen Shotokai Karate & Kobudo.

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 Ms. Allison Pena (5th Degree Blackbelt) and together they have two beautiful daughters, Ms. Laney Pena (2nd Degree Blackbelt) and Ms. Gabby Pena (1st Degree Blackbelt). 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

Sensei Brian Pena has lived his life and enjoys working hard to create special moments for others in Karate – and in Life. He truly enjoys producing smiles, pulling tears, and making memories for those DESERVING recognition.  When it happens to him, it is monumental in his life:

On Saturday – July 23, 2022 as the LEGENDS OF CAROLINA MARTIAL ARTS Induction Ceremony was in process, Mr. Jerome ‘Magic’ Johnson and Mr. Marty Knight assisted in blessing Sensei Brian Pena by adding to and securing the signatures and blessings of several Legends of Carolina Martial Arts on acknowledgement of his prior year’s Kudan (9th Degree Blackbelt) promotion to include: Mr. Mike Hess, Mr. Doug Perry, Mr. Vic Coffin, Mr. Allen Steen, Mr. Joe Corley, Mr. Bill Wallace, Mr. Sam Chapman, Mr. Charles Burris, Mr. Donald McCluney, Mr. Arthur Ferguson, Mr. Ricky Taylor, Ms. Germon Miller, Mr. Wilson Rhyne, Mr. Larry Hodges, Mr. Donald ‘Duck’ Roberts, Mr. Lawrence McSwain, Mr. Jay Bell, Mr. Tony Young, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Wayne Lewis (RIP), Mr. Bill Osterholt, Ms. Cindy Padgett, Mr. Gary Shull, Mr. Bobby Tucker, Mr. Rick Lee, Ms. Nicki Carlson-Lee, Mr. Tony Thomas, Mr. Johnny Stinson, Mr. John Chung, Mr. Neil Godfrey, Mr. James White, Mr. Ernest White, Mr. Brian Lee, RCSD Sheriff Leon Lott, SCHP Col. Chris Williamson, SCHP Col. Mike Oliver (ret), IPD Chief Leaphart (RIP), and SCDPS Lt. Jim McClary.

On Sunday – August 1, 2021 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded his Kudan (9th Degree Blackbelt) within Zen Shotokai Karate and Kobudo by O’Sensei Virgil Kimmey’s senior student since 1967, O’Sensei Mike Hess, Judan (10th Degree Blackbelt).  The Certificate resides in a very special place in Sensei’s personal office.

On Saturday – July 31, 2021 as the LEGENDS OF CAROLINA MARTIAL ARTS Induction Ceremony was ending, Sensei Ricky Taylor of Lancaster, SC asked to see Sensei Brian Pena in his office for about 10 minutes. In front of Ms. Pena, Mr. Crawford, and several of his own Blackbelts, Sensei Taylor 100% succeeded in creating a SPECIAL MOMENT for Sensei Pena – that will never be lost upon him. Not only did Sensei Taylor remove his Red Rose from his blazer and pin it on Sensei Pena, he presented him a very personal promotion that absolutely brought him to tears: Kudan (9th Degree Blackbelt) through USA Karate in Lancaster, SC. The Rose and the Certificate reside in a very special place in Sensei’s personal office.

On Sunday – January 26, 2020 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded the honorary rank of Godan (5th Degree Blackbelt) in the art of Kenpo Karate within the Kenpo Karate Institute under Mr. Rick Sparks and confirmed by Mr. Bill Daniels.

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 Saturday – July 28, 2018 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded the master teaching credential and honorific title of ‘Shihan’ of Zen Shotokai Karate and Kobudo in Columbia, SC by Ms. Maria Kimmey and Mr. Mike Hess. This advancement was confirmed by Mr. Charles Burris, Mr. Sam Chapman, Mr. Bill Daniels, Mr. Garry Dillingham, Mr. Larry Hodges, Mr. Jerome Johnson, Mr. Marty Knight, Mr. Joe Martin, 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 Saturday – July 29, 2017 Sensei Brian 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, Judan (10th Degree Blackbelt) 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, confirmed, and blessed by O’Sensei Virgil Kimmey’s senior student since 1967, O’Sensei Mike Hess, Judan (10th Degree Blackbelt), 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, and Mr. Ricky Taylor.

On Saturday – May 6, 2017 Sensei Brian Pena was awarded his Hachidan (8th Degree Blackbelt) 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).

“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, (Shihan)

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)
    • www.LegendsOfCarolinaMartialArts.com
  • Co-Founder of “TCT Sport Martial Arts” with Sensei Corky Sikes (2008)
    • www.TCTsportmartialarts.com