Renshi Lennis Darby - Founder and Chief Instructor
Renshi Lennis Darby is a 5th degree black belt (Godan). He has been involved in Karate for almost 40 years, beginning in 1983 at the age of 14. Renshi's original involvement in karate was learning basic techniques and sparring with schoolmates, some of whom studied formally, in a backyard or open field. For his 15th birthday - December of 1983 - he requested formal lessons. He enrolled in a Yoshukai Karate class under the direction of Sensei Mike Culbreth and has been involved in the art since. Renshi studied under Sensei Culbreth for twelve years, until March of 1995. Renshi earned his Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) in January of 1987. At the request of Master Culbreth he taught his first class in December of 1986, a month prior to becoming Yudansha. In March of 1987 Master Yuki Koda formally presented Renshi with his black belt and, even though still a high school student, he began teaching several times each week for Sensei Culbreth (now Hu-Kaicho of World Yoshukai).
In 1990 Renshi Darby opened his first dojo (training hall) in Troy, Alabama. A year later he opened his second school in Enterprise, Alabama. Renshi taught as a Yoshukai instructor until March of 1995, having up to seven dojos, many students of Yudansha (black belt level), and hundreds of students. In 1995 political strife and in-fighting among several instructors of Yoshukai led Renshi to create MojuKai. In 1997 Renshi accepted a position with the Enterprise Police Department, which necessitated closing his commercial schools. However, he continued practicing while teaching family, close friends and former students until the opportunity arose to re-open his public classes.
Renshi Darby has won a number of competitions and awards during his time in Karate, including two Gold Medals in the State Olympics - which led to an invitation to tryout for the U.S. Olympic team going to the Seoul, Korea Olympics. He has had the honor of teaching for Grandmaster Katsuoh Yamamoto, founder of Yoshukai Karate-Kobudo and receiving special accolades from him for his teaching abilities. Renshi also had the honor of receiving his Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt) from Master Yuki Koda, director of the United States Yoshukai Karate Association (USYKA) and his Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt) directly from Grandmaster Yamamoto
Renshi Darby holds a Bachelor's Degree in General Psychology and a Master's Degree in Forensic Psychology. He uses the knowledge gained from his studies to the advantage of MojuKai gakusei (students). Renshi understands that all people have different learning styles, capabilities and limitations. He takes care to emphasize their strong points while improving their deficiencies. Renshi believes that by making the mind of the student stronger, their physical skills will naturally follow. He has emphasized this in the Guiding Principle of MojuKai, which is Kenkyo-sa Kara Yushu "Excellence from Humility".
Renshi also served the public as a Law Enforcement Officer from 1996 through 2022 at which time he retired as a veteran Captain of the Enterprise Police Department. In his law enforcement career he was honored with several accolades and served as Captain in every division of the department. But his greatest honor was being entrusted by others in his endeavors to serve the people.
Sensei Stacey Darby
Sensei Darby began studying Yoshukai Karate in 1989 under the instruction of Renshi Darby, who at that time was merely Yudansha, and Sensei Mike Culbreth, who is now Hu-Kaicho of World Yoshukai. Sensei began assisting with instruction in June of 1990 when Renshi opened his first dojo in Troy, Alabama.
In August of 1990 Sensei Darby created a controversy by competing in weapons competition as a yellow belt, which before that time had not been done, in a Fort Worth, Texas tournament and winning. This created some animosity among more advanced students, but was declared acceptable by Master Yuki Koda due to her exceptional performance. She was awarded her Shodan "First Degree Black Belt" in March of 1995 when MojuKai was created.
Sensei Darby is a Registered Nurse specializing in emergency medicine. She has been nationally certified as a fitness personal trainer and in aerobic instruction. Her primary interests in karate are in sharing the benefits of kata, both empty-hand and kobudo, and in bringing more women into the martial arts.
Shihan Michael Pearson
Shihan Pearson is a 4th Degree Black Belt (Yondan). He began training in the Yoshukai Dojo owned by Mr. Mike Culbreth and where Renshi Darby was an assistant instructor in 1989. He soon began training daily with Renshi Darby and transferred to Renshi's Dojo once it was open. He earned his Shodan and Nidan in Yoshukai Karate before tranferring back to Renshi's Dojo. Shihan's wife, Mrs. Mandy Pearson is the third person to earn a MojuKai Black Belt Their sons, Gabe and AJ are on track to earn their Black Betls early in 2021.
Shihan Michael Pearson
with Sosai Yuki Koda of USYKA
Shihan, which means "Quality Instructor", which is a title given to persons with many years of training, experience and knowledge and which indicated an elevated position, is widely known as one of the best fighters of his era. He has won innumerable competitions, including the Battle of Atlanta, Ryuken Open and many others. At the age of 15, while still a green belt, he traveled with Renshi Darby to the Alabama State Games where he competed in the Black Belt Division and earned the Championship.
Shihan Pearson demonstrating his
flexibility after recovering from hip surgery.
Shihan Pearson was required to have a hip replacement in 2015, but he has returned to karate and even regained his flexibility. Along with his notoriety as a fighter, Shihan is well known for his kicking skill and all around competition success.
Sensei Amanda Lee
Mrs. Amanda Lee is a Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt). She began her karate training in October of 1986 under Mr. Mike Culbreth at his primary dojo in Dothan, Alabama. She earned her Shodan (1st Degree) in 1989 and her Nidan (2nd Degree) in 1992, both through Yoshukai Karate. She was awarded her Sandan (3rd Degree) in July of 2021. Sensei Lee is the owner / operator of the Troy MojuKai Dojo in Troy, Alabama.
Sensei Lee says that her most memorable moments in karate have been earning her Nidan from Mr. Mike Foster, founder of Yoshukai International and being told by Renshi (while still a young underbelt student) that she was going to make a good black belt one day.
Like all MojuKai Black Belts, Mrs. Lee has excellent fundamentals and a sharp eye for technical correction. She enjoys kata training and is an invaluable instructor and a huge asset to the Kai due to her reliability and eagerness to instruct others.
Mrs. Mandy Pearson
Mrs. Pearson began training in Yoshukai Karate after she began dating Shihan Pearson. She progressed through Yoshukai to the rank of 1st kyu (last underbelt rank). After transferring to MojuKai with her family, she earned her Black Belt in April of 2018. She was only the third person to earn a MojuKai Karate Black Belt (preceded by Sensei Darby and Mr. Hunter Ayers).
Mrs. Pearson has superb technique and is a great analyst for others. She understands kata (training forms) and can quickly discern even the smallest of errors, a valuable tool for teaching proper application to others.
Mrs. Pearson is a Registered Nurse who currently works at home as a medical auditor.
Renshi Darby refers to Mrs. Pearson's Black Belt training when other students get to their senior ranks, often remarking on how much work she put in to prepare herself. One such reference was the fact that she worked 4 weeks on a single stance to ensure that it was exactly as intended.
Mr. Stone Darby
Mr. Stone is the youngest child of Renshi and Sensei Darby. He, along with Mr. Nate Walls, were instrumental in bringing Renshi and Sensei back to teaching karate publicly. In 2014 they asked Renshi to teach them privately; after several months he relented and trained them in his one-car garage. Atfer several months of training they asked to participate in a tournament, even though their training was not sport karate in nature. At the tournament, even though they were 16, Renshi insisted that they fight up to the adult division - they won 1st and 2nd place.
Mr. Stone is widely known as an elusive fighter with great timing and movement. He is also a very good kicker. Mr. Stone has won innumerable tournaments, usually coming down to him and Mr. Nate. Mr. Stone finished 2019 ranked #2 in fighting and weapons in the ProMac competition league.
Mr. Stone is pursuing his Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology with plans to obtain his PhD.
Mr. Stone with Renshi, Master Tom Gordon of Gordon's Martial Arts, and Shihan Pearson after Mr. Stone won the 2018 Grand Championship for Katas in the Gulf Coast Martial Arts Championship Series
Mr. Nate with Renshi, Master Tom Gordon of Gordon's Martial Arts, and Shihan Pearson after winning the fighting Grand Championship for the 2019 Gulf Coast Martial Arts Championship Series.
Mr. Nate Walls
Mr. Nate, along with Mr. Stone, were instrumental in Renshi and Sensei returning to public instruction of karate. In 2014 they asked Renshi to teach them privately; after several months he relented and trained them in his one-car garage. After several months of training they asked to participate in a tournament, even though their training was not sport karate in nature. At the tournament, even though they were 16, Renshi insisted that they fight up to the adult division - they won 1st and 2nd place.
Mr. Nate, as with Mr. Stone, has won countless tournaments and is well known for his speed and power. Mr. Nate finished 2019 ranked #3 in fighting and weapons (just behind Mr. Stone) in the ProMac tournament league. He also won the Grand-Championship at the 2019 Jubilee Open.
Mr. Nate is pursuing a degree in PMI and is scheduled to graduate in 2021. He and Mrs. Blayde Darby Walls (Renshi and Sensei's daughter) were married in June of 2021.
Mrs. Blayde Darby Walls
Ms. Blayde is the daughter and middle child of Renshi and Sensei. Miss Blayde did not begin her karate training until the modern MojuKai dojo was opened in September of 2015. Since then she has dominated her divisions in competition, not losing as an underbelt since she was a white belt.
Miss Blayde is known as a tenacious and fearless fighter who never shows pain or discouragement. She is a strong kumite (full contact fighting) athlete. She finished 2019 ranked #2 in the women's black belt division for fighting, weapons and kata in the ProMac league. She has won Championships in all three divisions of sport karate - fighting, kata and weapons.
Ms. Blayde is another excellent analyst, quickly able to discern the minutia of a student's technique and correct them accordingly. She is also known as a strict disciplinarian and is accordingly often placed in command of tournament trips and other travel events. She manages the ranking system within MojuKai.
Ms. Blayde is pursuing her DVM (Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine) and is married to Mr. Nate Walls.