Our Teachers



An 8th degree black belt, Master Tabata is the founder and head of the North American Karate-do Foundation - NAKF, in 1967, as well as of the New England Collegiate Karate Conference - NECKC, in 1968.

He is in direct line from the founder of the Shotokan style, Master Gichin Funakoshi. His teacher, Master Iso Obata, was one of Gichin Funakoshi's first students and the first chairman of the Japan Karate Association.

Master Tabata was sent from Japan to promote Karate in North America in late 60's. He has done so most effectively, building a large Karate organization in the North East. He was captain of the US Karate team for two decades, representing the US at many international tournaments. In addition, he was technical advisor to the US National Olympic Committee.

Now retired from these official functions, Master Tabata is currently putting finishing touches on his principal book on the Tabata path to Shotokan Karate, an analysis of the philosophical foundations and exercise of Shotokan. He is actively instructing the students from NAKF and NECKC. We are very fortunate to have Master Tabata teaching us every week here, at MIT.

He also published an instruction book on Karate and released, at the beginning of 2001, the first of a series of teaching movies, Ko Bo 1 - Combat Techniques. and a video of the kata requirements through Blue Belt.



Senpai Vazrik Chiloyan is a 2nd degree black belt. He started training under Sensei Tabata in 2009 at MIT, became a black belt in 2011, and received nidan in 2016. He has competed both locally and internationally in both sparring and kata.

At MIT, Vazrik studied physics and mechanical engineering as an undergraduate, and is currently a graduate student studying heat transfer at the nanoscale. He has been teaching since 2010, and received his class "C" instructor certification in 2011.



Senpai Avril Kenney is a 1st degree black belt. She started training under Sensei Tabata in 2010 at MIT, and became a black belt in 2014. She has competed both locally and internationally in sparring and kata, and has been an assistant instructor for the club since 2014.

At MIT, Avril studied Brain and Cognitive Science focusing on AI and most recently worked for Luminoso developing natural language processing. She has been teaching since 2014 as an assistant instructor.

Previous Instructors



Senpai Brian Neltner is a 2nd degree black belt. He started training under Sensei Tabata in 2004 at MIT and became a black belt in January 2008, reaching Nidan in August 2009.

At MIT, he was the captain of the team for five years while studying Physics and Materials Science, further pursuing a PhD in Materials Science. He restarted the club and coordinated instruction of new members while attending advanced practices anywhere he could find them. He earned his class "B" instructor certification in 2009, and was the treasurer of the NECKC for two years.

Making his debut as a teacher in Spring 2007, he has been teaching at MIT since then. In close coordination with Senpai Vazrik Chiloyan, the "Shotokan through Yellow Belt" curriculum was developed, and continues to be used to introduce new students to karate. Brian was also a PE instructor for MIT.


Photo Credit: Robin Briscoe

Piotr Fidkowski is a 1st degree black belt and has graduated with a Masters Degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, having completed his undergraduate education in the same department at MIT in 2009.

Piotr received his class "C" instructor certification in 2009. He was treasurer for the MIT club for 2 years, and subsequently served as the club president. He taught as an instructor from the summer of 2009 until 2011.



A 1st degree black belt, Santo began her education under Sensei Kasajima in Luxemburg from 1993 to 2002, at the Japan Karate Association of Luxembourg. From 2006 to 2008, she trained with Sensei Philippe Drobinski of the French Karate Federation, at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris. In 2007, she was awarded Shodan with the French Karate Federation.

Santo joined the MIT club in the Fall of 2008, while pursuing a Master of Science in the Technology and Policy Program. Due to her previous experience in Shotokan, she was awarded Shodan in May 2009.

Santo served as the assistant captain and president of the MIT team from 2010 until 2011, and was awarded her class "C" Instructor certification in 2009.


Photo copyright Kameradist Wagner, 2011

Malte Loos started regular training at the MIT Shotokan Karate club in 1997. A black belt since 2004, Malte was promoted to 3rd degree black belt in 2010. He served as club president from 2001 to 2004 and as assistant instructor from 2001 to 2003, when he graduated from MIT with an MSc in Economics.

In 2003, Malte became principal instructor of the BU Karate club. He also served as NAKF president from 2001 to 2004. In 2005, Malte moved back to his native Germany. There, he runs a runs an active school for Karate and Meditation, "Weg der Stille". He welcomes visits of past or present NECKC/NAKF members at any time.


Dave D'Amore

Sensei Dave D'Amore is a 4th degree black belt. He started training under Sensei Tabata in 1973 at the University of Lowell and became a black belt in 1976.

At Lowell, he was the captain of the Karate team , which he led to NECKC Kata and Kumite championships. He won numerous individual championships in both Kata and Kumite at collegiate and independent tournaments. He has served on the board of the NAKF and worked to define the unified training regimen that is in place across all levels of the organizations.

Making his debut as a teacher in 1977, he taught at MIT from 1997-2005.