Maine Traditional Karate: Active Black Belts
Training to the point where a karateka earns their black belt takes time, effort, dedication and strength of character. It is an honor to have black belts that have dedicated themselves with so much effort put into their karate training. They provide a wealth of knowledge and guidance to fellow students.
Sensei Steve Apsega
Steve Apsega, began formal training in the Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito Karate in 1986. Establishing his first Maine Traditional Karate dojo in Whitneyville, Maine in 1990, Sensei Apsega later opened dojos in Hermon (2000), Orrington (2003), and Old Town (2010). The sole break in Sensei Apsega’s decades of teaching experience came in 1994 – 1998 when he honorably served our country as an Airborne Certified United States Marine.
Upon discharge from the Marine Corp, Sensei Apsega reengaged in training and teaching the Shorin Ryu Matsumura Seito system. His continuing efforts earned him promotion to Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt) on June 10, 2000, Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt) on May 22, 2004, Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt) on May 16, 2009, and Godan (5th Degree Black Belt) on May 25th, 2013. Committed to accurately preserving the 300 year old karate system he practices, Sensei Apsega traveled to Okinawa Japan in 2004 and 2006 to personally train with Grandmaster Fusei Kise and Master Kise’s son, Kaicho Isao Kise.
Sensei Apsega maintains his proficiency, in part, by regularly traveling to Athens, Texas to train with his teacher, Hanshi John Shipes. Hanshi Shipes, a Hachidan (8th Degree Black Belt), serves as Co-director of the United States Branch of Grandmaster Fusei Kise’s Okinawan Shorinryu Matsumura Seito Karate and Kobudo Federation (OSMKKF).
As a Senior Student of Hanshi Shipes, Sensei Apsega attends and assists his teacher in hosting Master Kise and Kaicho Isao Kise’s annual trainings in the United States. Through his ongoing professional development activities, Sensei Apsega maintains OSMKKF Full Instructor Certification in Karate, Kobudo, and Tuite.
Although you will never hear Sensei mention it, his Maine Traditional Karate students are proud of, and wholeheartedly support, the April 26, 2014 OSMKKF bestowal of the title Renshi (i.e., Polished Master) upon our Sensei.
Sensei Scott Daigle
Sensei Scott Daigle began training under Sensei Apsega in 2005. He achieved the rank of Shodan in 2009, Nidan in 2011, and was promoted to Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt ) in 2013. In October 2018 he traveled to Yuma, AZ to test for his Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt) under the direction of Kaicho Isao Kise. With this latest promotion, his title changed from “Sempai” to “Sensei”.
He currently possesses full OSMKKF Certification in Karate, Kobudo, and Tuite. Sensei Scott possesses exceptional skill in all that he teaches, but is perhaps best known for his dry wit and soft-spoken nature.
His calm demeanor helps promote a healthy learning environment where success and failure are equally important and accepted parts of a student’s growth. Sensei Scott holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and an Associate’s Degree in Accounting.
Sempai Deb Harmon
Sempai Deb now trains with our fellow dojo, the Orland Karate Dojo.
Sempai Peter Bernier
Sempai Peter trained under Sensei Steve Apsega and is currently the Sensei at the Georgia Kenshin Kan Dojo in Flowery Branch, GA. Per his home dojo’s biography, Sempai Peter:
- Began training in Shorin-ryu Karate-Do 1994 in Cherryfield Maine under various OSMKKF instructors
- Transfered to train with Sensei Steve Apsega in Nov. 2000
- Moved to Georgia in 2002
- Continued training with his teacher with annual visits in Maine
- Promoted to shodan in karate & kobudo in May 2004
- Trains annually with Hanshi-Sei Fusei Kise (10th Dan), Kiacho Isao Kise (9th Dan), and Hanshi John Shipes (8th Dan)
- Trains with Sensei Apsega (5th Dan) several times a year.
- Began Georgia Kenshin Kan Dojo in 2010
- Married my lovely wife Steaphine March 2012
- Promoted to Nidan Karate May 2012
- Promoted to Nidan Kobudo Oct 2013
- Certified Karate and Kobudo Instructor Oct 2013
- Promoted to Sandan (3rd Degree) in Karate Oct 2015
Sempai Tommy Lyons
Sempai Tommy Lyons began training in this dojo under Sensei Steve Apsega in December of 2013.
He began his studies in August of 2012 in a little dojo in Bucksport, ME under a different Sempai (inactive now). The dojo was OSMKKF practiced but was not active in the federation. Sempai Tommy had pulled into the parking lot of Maine Traditional Karate several times because he was curious of the studies practiced there.
“Once I walked into the dojo and I met Sensei Steve Apsega I could feel the energies and I knew this is where I needed to train!”
Sempai Tommy has been clean from drugs since November 1, 2000. He has always lived by the ways of commitment, dedication and hard work.
“If you want something in life, nobody is going to give it to you. You need to go earn it.”
Sempai Tommy has always felt like a Black Belt at heart but didn’t get the opportunity to earn it, until August 6, 2016 when he officially attained his Shodan.
“Karate doesn’t stop at Black Belt, it just begins.”
Sempai Tommy believes that Karate is a lifestyle and not something you just do. It is a way of life. Under the guidance of Sensei Steve Apsega, Sempai Tommy has continued his Karate and began to develop more as a teacher. He attained his Instructors certification for Karate on October 7, 2017 and enjoys teaching a great deal. Sempai Tommy developed the little Samurai program with the approval and assistance of Sensei Steve Apsega. The main goal of this program is to get 4-7 year old students ready and focused for regular youth classes held at the dojo. Sempai Josh Curtis is the current instructor of the little Samurai and looks forward to growing the program more.
Sempai Tommy holds rank in Kobudo (weapons) and Tuite (joint locks and body manipulation). He loves to practice and study the techniques of the Mook Jong, also known as the wooden man. This training tool is commonly found in the practices of ving tsun kung fu or Wing Chun also found to be used in JKD Jeet Kune Do, the way of the intercepting fist. Sempai Tommy continues his studies by attending regular black belt classes, teaching on Monday nights, attending and assisting in teaching at special seminars, and traveling to camps with Sensei Steve Apsega.
On August 31, 2018 Sempai Tommy earned the rank of Nidan and plans to continue his training becoming a fully certified instructor in OSMKKF.
Sempai Seamus Mahoney
“Karate has been a steady rock in my life since I joined Maine Traditional Karate in 2008 when I was six years old. I reached the rank of Jr Shodan in 2015, and the rank of Nidan in 2017.
Karate has taught me and many other students to be respectful, hard working, and persevering. The greatest part about karate is that there is little to no competitiveness and you are only asked to do your best, which leads to a great feeling of camaraderie in the dojo.
I plan to continue karate for the rest of my life because there is no better feeling then having your mind and body fully immersed in the art.” -Seamus Mahoney
Sempai Kailee Soucia
“I began karate through Orrington Recreation Program. In January 2012, I joined Maine Traditional Karate as an official karateka (karate student). I received my Jr. Shodan (Jr. Black Belt) rank on October 8, 2016.
Karate has helped me become more confident with myself and helped me become a better public speaker. This has helped me a lot in school. Being a Jr. Shodan comes with a lot of responsibility. Not only am I responsible for knowing all material required as a Jr. Black Belt while still maintaining all previous rank material, but I need to ensure that I am a good role model for all youth students.
I am proud to be a female black belt within the OSMKKF. One event each year that I look forward to is when Hanshi John Shipes comes to Maine from Texas for our Maine Camp, and training with other dojos within our federation.” – Kailee Soucia
Sempai Gavin Worcester
“I began my training on 4/10/2012. I was taught under Sensei Steve Apsega in the Maine Traditional Karate Orrington Dojo and have attended many tuite camps over the years including Kaicho’s camp in 2016, Hanshi John Shipes camp in 2015, and tested for black belt in 2018 under Kyoshi Engleby.
Karate has not only helped me learn in the art but for many life aspects, as well, including how to be confident in my work in front of others. It also helped me get almost completely over my minor ADHD and has been a life changer since I started” – Gavin Worcester
Sempai Kyle Sullivan
Kyle began training in the Okinawan Seito Matsumura Karate and Kobudo Federation in 2013. Since 2013 Kyle has trained under Sensei Apsega, at the Maine Traditional Karate Hermon Dojo then the Orrington Dojo. Kyle has be fortunate to attend training camps with Kaicho lsao Kise, Hanshi Shipes, Hanshi Ader and numerous Kyoshis.
Kyle tested in front of Kyoshi Engleby, Sensei Apsega and Sensei Leach in October 2018 and was promoted to Shodan.
Sempai Josh Curtis
“After studying various styles of martial arts including Tai Chi and receiving my Brown Belt in Aikido, I became overwhelmed with coaching, teaching and fatherhood. Following a short break, my eldest son had shown interest in learning Karate. In 2015 he joined the OSMKKF at the Old Town Rec. Center. A few weeks later I joined, partially to spend time with my son and partially because I missed martial arts training.
Without hesitation, I became not only a member of the federation but, a part of the extended family. In my journey as a karateka, I had to learn to deal with the effects of diabetes. This challenge made it difficult, but not impossible. As a piece of my health, both mentally and physically, Karate has helped me maintain my sugar levels and weight. With hard work and dedication I earned my 1st degree black belt in October 2018 under the tutelage of Renshi Steve Apsega.
In 2019, I became the instructor for the Little Samurai Class and family class Friday Nights at the Dojo.
The journey of Karate is a singular one but, in this federation the journey and self discovery is supported by a worldwide network of amazing people willing to grow along with you.” – Josh Curtis
Maine Traditional Karate: Inactive Black Belts
We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of all of our students. Life is ever changing, and sometimes even our most advanced students need to take a break from training for things such as relocation, going to college, changes in schedule or simply making time for other pursuits. They are dear to our hearts and their legacy is recognized here. It is our hope to someday see them training by our side again!