Goju-Ryu Martial Arts Academy

Deb Freeman

Master Deborah Freeman

Senior First Assistant Instructor
Yondan, 4th Degree Black Belt


I have been studying at the GOJU-RYU MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY, since 1992, under the guidance and instruction of ShiHan Kenneth Freeman. The training is very complete; it covers all phases of the Goju-Ryu style: Kata (Forms), Kumite (Sparring and Grappling), Self-Defense, Weapons and Breaking. I personally enjoy teaching the Women's Self-Defense Seminars we give and the traditional Karate training. In today’s world, I feel every woman should have some type of Self-Defense training. We all participate in tournaments throughout the U.S. Regarding my personal achievements in the tournaments I’ve completed: I've taken 1st place in several and always placed. I earned my 2nd Degree Black Belt on March 5, 2000 at the age of 47. I've accomplished things I would not have thought possible of myself ten years ago, and throughout the journey I’ve learned a great deal about myself and others. The martial arts are truly a way of LIFE! At age 52, I earned the rank of Sandan, 3rd Degree Black Belt, which represents a long road and a lot of hard work. The road for me has been made longer by injuries, age and other things were beyond my control. What was and is within my control has been the determination to continue and to do the best I can. My determination has come, in part, from my own desire to further my training and accomplish as much as I am able. The other part of my determination has come from the help and support I feel I have received from my fellow Black Belt family.

Deb Freeman

My training has been an interesting and self-fulfilling learning experience for me. I've learned many things along my road, all of which have helped me to be a better person, and I hope I have been able to pass some of the knowledge along to others. I feel my determination, learning experiences, and ability to pass the ART of GOJU-RYU-JITSU to others made me a suitable candidate for the rank of YoDan, 4th Degree Black Belt. Now with a total of twenty one years of training in the GOJU-RYU-JITSU System of Martial Arts, on April 24, 2010 I earned the rank of YoDan Renshi, 4th Degree Black Belt, and I am thrilled to continue my journey of training and instructing.

Ray Croce

Sensei Raymond Croce Sr.

First Assistant Instructor
Sandan, 3rd Degree Black Belt.


Ous! Hello everyone, I have been studying at the GOJU-RYU MARTIAL ARTS ACADEMY under the guidance of ShiHan Kenneth Freeman since 1993. The training is very well-rounded with equal attention given to each aspect of our style. I personally enjoy the practice of Forms training, which is also known as "Kata". A Kata is a series of moves designed to simulate a fight against one or more attackers. Katas represent the core of a Martial Art system in that they demonstrate the intricacies of a given style.

Ray Croce

I have been fortunate enough to have successfully competed in many national tournaments throughout the U.S. over the past four years. In 1995, I was ranked first in the U.S. with the Amateur Karate Association in the "Senior Men's Division Forms" category. This achievement is second only to earning my Black Belt in 1996, which I view as the beginning of my training. ShiHan Freeman has taught me that with good mental discipline, hard work and a close attention to detail that nothing is impossible. I hope that I may continue to train with and teach for ShiHan Kenneth Freeman for a long time to come.

Christopher Hearon

Sensei Christopher Hearon

2nd Assistant Instructor
NiDan, 2nd Degree Black Belt


Karate is defined as a Martial Art. This definition is sufficient for some of the needs required to understand it, but it lacks a few things. Calling Karate a Martial Art basically means that it is a type of art that pertains to war. While true, it is also a way to learn many other things than just to learn the art of war. First, it teaches Discipline. To become a Master at anything, you must discipline yourself to practice what you want to Master. Next, it brings Maturity. I have found that those training in the Martial Arts are less prone to get into meaningless confrontation than the average person. Finally, it brings Focus. To truly learn a Discipline (Art) is really learning how to use your mind, body & soul. When you learn how to use your BODY correctly, you are learning to focus your power into a Punch, Kick, Block, or Throw; using your SOUL, is to have a peaceful & calm heart in battle. Now your MIND, that’s the important one, to be able to combine all three to a STATE OF WELL-BEING. Now you have Mastered a small portion of the Martial Arts. All these things are results of training in Martial Arts; they are also required for the training itself. Through my continued studies on the date of April 24, 2010 I’ve earned the rank of NIDAN, 2nd Degree Black Belt.

Melissa Benedetti

Sensei Melissa Benedetti

3rd Assistant Instructor
Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt


I started Karate with ShiHan Kenneth Freeman at the GOJU-RYU ACADEMY in 1993 when I was six years old. Now, several years later on September 23, 2000, I've earned the Rank of Full Shodan, 1st Degree Black Belt and the title of Third (3rd) Assistant Instructor. I started Karate because I wanted to try something new! I play all types of sports, to name a few are; Baseball, Basketball, Soccer and Field Hockey. My parents said I had a choice between Ballet or Karate, and I chose Karate!

Melissa Benedetti

I initially underestimated how informative the training in the Goju-Ryu style of Karate would be; and now am extremely grateful for all that I’ve learned. Training improved my hand, eye and foot coordination. Now I play all sports a lot better and faster. I can drive faster to the basket and even jump higher. Karate improved my skills greatly! I think all kids should join some type of Martial Art. Of course they will learn how to fight and protect themselves, but more importantly to improve their skills, not just in sports but in everyday LIFE! KARATE HELPED ME ALOT! Now at age 21 and a junior in college, I am a senior Shodan at the Goju-Ryu Academy. While playing sports in college, I sustained a serious knee injury. I returned to the Academy to help strengthen my knees for when I return to college this year to continue with my sports scholarship. As I said: "KARATE HELPS ME ALOT"!

Ed Farrell

Sensei Edward Farrell III

4th Assistant Instructor
ShoDan-Ho, 1st Black Belt


I joined the dojo in April 2004, just after my 27th birthday. At that time in my life, I was looking for so much more than a place to just learn self-defense or get a good work-out. It was my understanding that the martial arts, especially those born of true tradition, could help me find what it seemed had always been absent in my life ... PEACE. During my journey in GOJU-RYU-JITSU, I've gained so much more than what I initially set out to. Education in learning Karate goes much deeper than simply perfecting forms/katas and sparring techniques. There is a connection created between you and all those who have studied before you as well as those following the same path just behind you. A bond is formed, a true brotherhood. The control and focus I put into practicing my movements will calm me far more deeply than anything else. Karate allows you to concentrate on one thing while actually performing several different things at the same time. I may be working on my Kankaku kata in class ... but what I am actually working on is my self-defense from several different attacks from different angles, BALANCE, the fluidity of my movement, my core strength, my reaction time, my execution proficiency of each move and then multiple movements strung together, my breathing, my control... I could go on and on. In summary, my philosophy regarding karate is that it’s BALANCE. Physical BALANCE, BALANCE in your life or even in your checkbook, although simple, is not necessarily easy to achieve. You have to work to create BALANCE. However, if / when you attain it, it does not maintain itself. You must attain then maintain BALANCE. My karate training allows me to shut things out just long enough to enable me to think more clearly. This clarity even leads to quicker reactions that do not even require thought. With a clear mind, with BALANCE, I can keep growing as a person emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually while also possessing the knowledge to protect those dearest to me.

Deb Freeman

Sensei Christa N. DeCoursey

4th Assistant Instructor
ShoDan-Ho, 1st Black Belt


Most people, including myself at one point, generally stereotype KARATE by thinking about fighting, bulling, and beating people up as the main purpose of the art. However, as I gained experience in the Arts, I grew to understand that KARATE is about so much more; Discipline, Patience, Focus and Determination. For example, KARATE students are to use KARATE only in Self-Defense, not to start fights or cause trouble, which demonstrates discipline. Also, one must regularly attend KARATE class, even if he/she does not feel like it, in order to learn and grow as a KARATE student. In terms of discipline, KARATE teaches one how to control themselves in class as well as out of class. If intimidated or embarrassed, one must have the composure to relax and keep under control. One must also forget about their ego once they step into the dojo, for one may have to learn from younger person, or may lose a fight to a younger and smaller person. In addition to discipline, KARATE has also helped me with my patience, for promotion only comes about every 6 months, and that’s a long time to wait for an opportunity to become a higher rank. There is also a lot of repetition and waiting for others in KARATE, especially when learning a new kata, so one must be able to keep calm and respectful while others catch up. Then, when teaching the under ranks, one must constantly be asking for the students’ attention and repeat the steps until they fully grasp the move, which may take weeks. Finally, KARATE is all about Focus and Determination, such as when in a painful stance (horse stance) one must be able to persevere through the pain, and apply mind over matter so one can successfully hold their stance until further instructed. Overall, KARATE is like a path to becoming a better person, and is something that can last an entire Lifetime, for one never stops learning in KARATE class and is always moving forward. I am thirteen now, and this is just the first step.

Matt Fitzgerald

Sensei Matthew J. Fitzgerald

4th Assistant Instructor
ShoDan-Ho, 1st Black Belt


The philosophical foundation of KARATE for me lies in balance between both the mental and physical aspects. KARATE, for me, transcends and is truly a way of Life. There are many core philosophical values learned through training that made me a much better individual. This way of life through the art is the continuous pursuit of improvement which we do through the physical training of the mind and body. The benefits are a much healthier, physically fit body and mind. KARATE makes one feel a great sense of accomplishment. Pushing one’s own physical limitations through practicing KARATE also leads to significantly increased confidence and reinforces our virtue of “nothing is impossible”. Practicing/working on the various aspects such as KATAS, SELF-DEFENSE, or GRAPPLING develops the core value of repetition and respecting the tradition that you must continuously work at being brilliant at the basics – such is true with much of Life. There are many values that encompass the philosophy of KARATE that are important to me including Character Development, Respect, Hard Work, Patience and Good Spirit. Foremost to me is Discipline – KARATE teaches this value at a high level. The development of Discipline through KARATE has been one of my strongest attributes in navigating life. Life to me is about how we deal with the many challenges we all face. The discipline aspect has allowed me to make better decisions. It has also had a tremendous impact on my success in the business world and running my own financial planning practice. Additionally, KARATE develops pride, and the attributes of hard work and patience. This is accomplished through consistent Practice and Focus. This has taught me that if you relentlessly and continuously work at something you can become skilled at it. I look forward to my continued study of KARATE and its philosophical values.