The Women in Budo with Dojo-cho and Head Instructors

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Join us for a virtual event "Women in Budo with Dojo-cho & Chief Instructors" on one Suday afternoon on April 18th at 3:00PM.

This event is part of a series of Japanese cultural and educational programs presented by the Japan-America Society of Greater Austin (JASGA).

We will invite female Budo practitioners, trainers, and a dojo-cho (dojo owners) who have opened their own Dojo and teach students who want to be trained in Budo in Austin, Texas.

Our speakers and moderator will share their thoughts and experiences concerning how a dojo can retain and encourage women to remain in the practice in budo and promote the martial arts by transferring their skills to the next generations.

These long-time practitioners of budo will discuss questions. Please ask them any questions at Q & A.                 

This event is free and open to the public.  Register now, and receive a login code.                 


Cat Gurinsky,  Dojo-cho and Chief Instructor, Immortal Tiger Kenpo Karate

Cat Gurinsky has been training in martial arts since 2000 and holds black belts in Shaolin Kenpo, Karate and Taekwondo. She also trains in iaido and additionally has cross trained in American Kenpo and Small Circle Jujitsu.

She is the owner and one woman show behind Immortal Tiger Kenpo Karate, which she founded in 2017 but only recently moved into its first dedicated location in North Austin in January 2021 . Having her own dojo was a lifelong dream since high school, as she has always had a passion for teaching and spreading martial arts knowledge, helping others understand how body mechanics work, and improving their physique. In addition to teaching she still regularly trains remotely with her original instructors at Bill Grossman's School of Kenpo Karate located in South San Francisco, CA.

Cat is a senior network engineer and a Japanese language learning enthusiast who majored in Japanese studies for her BA and MA.  

Laura Hayden, Dojo-cho and Instructor, Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense
Laura Hayden is a Texas native. From a long line of teachers, she discovered her own love of teaching as a teenager with swim lessons at the local pool. Over the years, she has worked with all ages of students in many different disciplines and environments.

Laura first experienced martial arts in college, taking a karate elective at Rice University, and found she really enjoyed it. It wasn’t until 2006, though, that she was introduced to Sun Dragon Martial Arts and Self Defense, a non-profit organization founded in 1989 that teaches Empowerment Self Defense and nonviolent martial Arts. When Laura started training in Seido Karate at Sun Dragon in 2008, she was excited to find martial arts again. As a green belt, Laura started teaching in the Little Dragons program for 4- & 5-year-olds. Shortly after that she started assisting with self-defense workshops. 13 years later, she now holds the rank of third-degree black belt and teaches Seido Karate and Empowerment Self Defense to all ages and in every program.

Sun Dragon has been a member of the World Seido Karate Organization since 2007, and it has grown to one of the larger Seido branches. Laura is also Executive Director of Sun Dragon ince July 2020. Graham Smith, a fourth-degree black belt is a Head Instructor and Branch Chief. The highest-ranking student, fourth-degree Katherine Scheib, holds the role of Senior Instructor. Together they hope to lead Sun Dragon for many years to come. 

Leslie Libby sensei, Dojo-cho and Chief Instructor, Rising Sun Aikido
Libby Sensei holds a 5th Degree Black Belt in Aikido (Go-dan) and has been training consistently for 35 years. She began her martial arts training in 1982 while attending Montana State University in Bozeman MT. Libby Sensei took aikido for credit through the University’s P.E. Department. Her teacher Greg Olson Sensei noticed her dedication and enthusiasm for studying aikido and recommended she go to Japan.

Libby Sensei followed Olson Sensei’s advice and after she graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering she went to Japan. She so enjoyed training at the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo that she lived and trained in Japan for 5 years. During this time she trained with many Master Teachers (Shihan) and also with the founder’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and grandson, the current Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba. While in Japan she also trained in the art of Kyudo - Japanese Archery.

Alexanda Darrah (moderator),  Senior Instructor, Houston Kendo Kyokai
Like many kids, Alex became interested in anything Japanese through her exposure to anime. She started her Kendo journey via a UT Informal Classes at age 14 in 2004 and hasn't stopped since. She joined the UTKA (University of Texas Kendo Association), became its president, and received the rank of ni-dan (2nd-degree blackbelt) in 2012.

After she graduated from UT Austin McCombs School of Business, she moved to Houston to begin her professional career and kept practicing at a dojo in Houston, but her experience at UTKA, gave her the assurance to establish a new Kendo dojo. With the help of her kendo friends from UTKA, they established Houston Kendo Kyokai in 2014.

Alexandra received yon-dan (4th-degree black belt) in 2017 and is an instructor at HKK. As of April 2021, she is eligible to test for go-dan (5th-degree) and plans to do so once testing opportunities are available.

At Houston Kendo Kyokai, about 40% of the practitioners are women, with about 30 active kendo practitioners.  There are four Kendo Dojo in Houston.