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This is where bios for the Sifus and upper students will go.
- Master Sifu Joe Hutchings
- Sifu Michael Holman
- Sifu Trey Lasseter
- Sifu Stuart Quigley
- Sifu Cohen Martinez
Master Sifu Joe Hutchings
Joe Hutchings was born the seventh of eight children in the middle Tennessee town of McMinnville on July 27, 1958. Coming from a working class Southern family, there was not much opportunity and even less money for something like martial arts training, but in the summer of 1967 Joe found that slim chance to train.
Joe met Chong Williams shortly after he turned nine and learned she was a Wing Chun Gung Fu instructor and began his training.
By the time Joe was thirteen, he had the physical skills to be called a Sifu,(sea-foo), an instructor in Wing Chun, but the head instructor, Chion Xhing, Chong’s Grandfather, refused to award Joe the rank. He said that, although Joe had the physical skills needed to be a Sifu, he had very little idea of the philosophy and lifestyle that a Sifu was expected to have. He also stated that at age thirteen, Joe was not old enough to know what being a Sifu meant and there was no Gwilo (gui’low, or non Chinese) that would ever know what that meant. Chong disagreed with her Grandfather and, in 1972, awarded Joe the rank of Sifu in Wing Chun Gung Fu, although it was never recorded in any recognized Wing Chun documents.
In the summer of 1975, Joe moved to Wichita, Kansas to be with his mother and to find work.
Keeping up his Gung Fu, Hutchings started fighting in the local martial arts tournaments. He took up Tae Kwon Do at the renowned Han’s Tae Kwon Do Academy in 1975 and was awarded his First Kup Black Belt in 1976. In just a few years, he was winning state-wide and regional tournaments. In the fall of 1977, after winning the Midwest Regional Middleweight Championship, Sifu Hutchings retired from tournament fighting in favor of more useful, efficient street defense.
In 1978, Joe met a Goju Ryu instructor named C. J. Smith and trained with him for the next two years. After being awarded his First Degree Black Belt in Goju Ryu, Hutchings added this to his arsenal of martial arts and started teaching what he called Black Dragon Self Defense in 1980. His focus was women’s self defense, and although his school was in his basement and back yard, it was quite successful in Wichita at that time.
In 1985, Hutchings moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and attended Rutledge Business College. After earning his Associates Degree in Business Administration, Joe opened International Martial Arts, a self defense school and retail store, in a flea market in a rough part of Raleigh. Having met with some success, he then joined The East Coast Demo Team and traveled the Eastern Seaboard, giving self defense demonstrations in whatever venue they could book.
Following a personal break up, Hutchings closed his business and moved back to Wichita to pursue teaching self-defense privately in fitness centers and his home. This trend continued until 1995, when Hutchings met Professor Gary Dill, a Jeet Kune Do instructor in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, who had trained in the Oakland, CA JKD kwoon with Sifu James Yimm Lee. Prof. Dill’s own brand of JKD, Self Defense Systems Jeet Kune Do, contains the original JKD that was taught to him by Sifu James Lee and Sijo Bruce Lee. Joe started passionately training in JKD, learning all he could and visiting Prof. Dill whenever possible.
Hutchings then started teaching JKD to a few friends and family members and honing his abilities. In 2007, Hutchings met Sifu John Lopez, a JKD Concepts practitioner who had trained with Dan Inosanto and Paul Vunak. Sifu Lopez provided Hutchings with a JKD program that is efficient and effective and was soon promoted to the rank of Sifu, Full Instructor in Bare Knuckles Jeet Kune Do.
In 2011, Hutchings struck up a long-distance friendship with Sifu Jerry Poteet, both online and through telephone conversations, and was immediately awestruck at the openness of Poteet and his willingness to share any technical or philosophical information that Hutchings interested in. When Hutchings would ask for further explanation, Poteet would often send him a video of Poteet himself, demonstrating the technique. Although they never met physically or crossed hands, Hutchings feels he learned so much from Sifu Poteet, that he is one of Hutchings’s JKD instructors.
In 2010, Sifu Hutchings earned his Full Instructor, Black Sash in Self-Defense Systems Jeet Kune Do under Professor Gary Dill, and. In 2012, Sifu Hutchings earned his Black Sash, Full Instructor certification under Sifu Joaquim Almeria. In 2016, Hutchings earned his Fourth Degree Black Sash in Jeet Kune Do Combatives under Prof. Gary Dill and was awarded the title of Master Sifu. In June of 2016, he also earned his Black Belt Instructors Certificate in Homeland Combatives under Professor Dill. Hutchings is now among the few who have trained with some of the best fighters of the 20th Century. Being a second generation Jeet Kune Do practitioner puts Hutchings in a position to teach the techniques and philosophy that Bruce Lee himself developed over his lifetime.
In July of 2017, Master Sifu Hutchings was honored by his induction into the prestigious U.S.A. Hall of Fame in Kansas City, MO as Jeet Kune Do Master of the Year. He was also included in Strathmore’s Who’s Who in the martial arts division.
Sifu Michael Holman
I’m Michael Holman. I’ve been training in martial arts since I was thirteen and, full disclosure, most likely got interested in it due to liking Power Rangers. I experienced some intense bullying in my school career, which reinforced a desire in me to be able to defend myself – not necessarily because the bullying was physical, but because I wanted to obtain the sense of self-confidence and empowerment that seemed to come with martial arts skill. I trained at a local Taekwondo school for eight years, and though it did give me flexibility and good kicks, it lacked the real-world combat application I was looking for. I left the school shortly after achieving my 3rd-degree black belt and began searching for something more, and I was stunned when I found Pear Tree Jeet Kune Do here in Kansas.
Master Sifu Joe Hutchings is the best martial arts instructor I’ve ever encountered, and his extensive experience in both real-world self-defense and passing on his knowledge to others is unparalleled. He’s also a deeply caring person and actively seeks to know his students well and is always there to help and give advice to anyone who needs someone to lean on – and to crack a joke to brighten your day if you’re feeling down. Sifu does mean a martial arts instructor, but it literally translates to ‘Big Brother,’ and he truly embodies that ideal. Pear Tree has become my second family; it’s a friendly, cheerful atmosphere that is encouraging and above all dedicated to helping you become a great fighter and a better person as well. This school has also helped me expand my horizons in other martial arts as well, as one of Jeet Kune Do’s tenets is to “absorb what is useful and discard what is useless.” Different from other martial arts methods that might try to fit you into a cookie cutter style, Jeet Kune Do encourages the studying of other methods and techniques, as well as modification of the techniques you have learned, in order to find ‘your way’ of fighting. To that end, I now have earned a black belt in Homeland Combatives, which is an anti-terrorist fighting methodology, and am also actively studying Wing Chun and Doteki Aikibudo, which is a new variant of Aiki-Jujitsu being developed by one of our black belts at Pear Tree. The greatest recommendation I can give with regards to this martial arts school is that I plan on being here for the rest of my life.
Sifu Trey Lasseter
I am a graduate of Wichita State University, having obtained an undergraduate degree in Exercise Science in 2015. I am currently a Recreation Facilitator at a non-profit mental health hospital. Prior to this position, I worked for the Parks and Recreation Department as a seasonal arborist, and as a Student Building Manager for the Rhatigan Student Center.
Before joining Pear Tree, my martial arts experience was limited to a semester of Tae Kwon Do and a few sessions with a Judo club, both through Wichita State. I believe that joining Pear Tree has been one of the better decisions that I have made in my life to this point. Most individuals initiate martial arts pursuits at least in part due to the prevalence of combat arts portrayed in various forms of entertainment media, and I was no different. I watched Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, and Jet Li films as an adolescent, and was attracted to the power and confidence of these individuals on screen; what teenage boy couldn’t be? As an adult, my attraction to martial arts was tempered by a desire to be confident in my ability to protect myself and my loved ones in the event of a violent assault. My training experience at Pear Tree has helped me attain that self-reliance, as well as introducing me to individuals that I consider to be extended family.
My favorite memory from PTSDC is assisting Sifu Stuart Quigley in attaining his Black Sash rank under the hawk-like gaze of Prof. Gary Dill.
Before an individual is allowed to test for their Black Sash rank under PTSDC, they must acquire one year’s worth of teaching experience with the school; this ensures that instructor-level students are not only decent martial artists, but also have an adequate understanding of both techniques and teaching skills. Master Sifu Joe Hutchings is committed to ensuring the quality of Black Sash candidates, and is resolute in his dismissal of individuals who do not meet the character standards set by the school, no matter their rank. Sensei Chris Meece is an exceptionally knowledgeable practitioner of Aiki-Jujutsu, and conducts his teaching in a judicious manner, with mindfulness of individual aptitude.
Sifu Stuart Quigley
I began training at Pear Tree Self Defense Center in October of 2015. I received my Sifu black sash in April of 2017. I have a black belt in Sento Jitsu, blue sash in Wing Chung and I am an intermediate student in Aiki/Jitsu. My interest in Martial Arts started with Tae Kwon Do at the age of 12. Although my training only lasted a few months I continued to do individual training from that point on finally finding a training home at Pear Tree Self Defense Center.
I have worked in aircraft production most of my life including work on Air Force One and currently Account Manager for
Sifu Cohen Martinez
My name is Cohen Martinez and I am currently the youngest Sifu and instructor at Pear Tree. I joined Pear Tree roughly four years ago and prior to that I was studied Wing Chun for three years. As an ongoing college student and full time worker, I see Pear Tree as a second home I can go to. We are a growing family and I enjoy interacting with people of different age groups and personalities – every class is a new experience. This is an aspect that I’ve come to love because it is not repetitive as some may see martial arts to be. It is nice to see the Pear Tree family grow and myself grow with them over time; I hope to be a part of this community for the future to come.