Meet Your Instructors…

Lisa Nolen

Lisa Nolen holds the rank of 3rd degree black belt. In our art, this carries the title of “Bantoe” (pronounced bahn-too, and which means helper or substitute.) Bantoe Lisa started training with her middle school aged daughter as way for the both of them to try something new together. Now many years later one daughter has passed the Bar and her other daughter is in college! And here she is, still training Poekoelan! She loves it! When not on the floor you can find her enjoying Portland with her husband, car camping or taking her dog for walk.

Lisa teaches advanced students on Tuesday nights and is an inspirational instructor on Saturday mornings in the all school workout.

Eric Gorman

I first “shook hands” with Poekoelan way back in college at Lewis & Clark. Fond memories plus a new years resolution brought me back. I rediscovered training in February of 2009 and have been at it ever since. In November 2015 I earned my black belt.

Besides training, I work at OMSI and read a lot of books. I blow glass and sail boats. I fight evil penguins in the name of liberty and justice. At least one of these statements is false.

I love the amazing community of people I get to hang out with. We practice a “broken mirror” style of martial arts. That means that no two practitioners ever look exactly alike. If you are interested in training a martial art, Poekoelan will meet you wherever you are at and help you to build bridges going forward.

Eric can be seen on the mat a LOT during the school year. He teaches in most of our children’s classes. During the summers, he’s busy running camps for OMSI.

Ken Westin

I started training Poekoelan while at Lewis and Clark College, but came back to it when Naga opened near my house and I have been training now for for over 10 years.

I work in computer security, I help companies and government agencies secure their networks and recently have been doing a lot of training and presentations on the topic of hacking and cyber security around the world. I have developed patented technology for tracking and recovering stolen devices and worked extensively with law enforcement to help utilize technology to solve various crimes including the unveiling of organized crime rings, white collar crimes, human trafficking, child exploitation and others.

For fun I really enjoy playing and listening to music. I have played guitar since I was 12 and play in a band that plays a gig or two a month around town. I also have an ever-expanding and eclectic record collection, which includes everything from original blues and jazz pressings to electronica and rock/metal.

I really enjoyed training when I was in college, I actually found the holds to be a lot of fun and it was nice to get into shape, as I had not previously done much physical exercise. I came back to it when I was older after my son was born to get back in shape, and also found it to be a great way to relieve stress. My son also trains with me now, which has been fun to watch as he has grown in the art himself.

The thing I love most about teaching is showing people what they are capable of. A lot of people think Martial Arts is for big burly men doing UFC and it can be intimidating. I have tremendous respect for people who start training, it is not easy to step out of your comfort zone and try something new…and even a little scary.  What happens though, is that there are these moments I get to experience teaching where the student gets a hold down, breaks a board, or completes a form and there is this grin or glint in their eye when they realize they just did something they didn’t think they would be able to do when they started. I remember that feeling and it is so rewarding to see others experience that joy.

Ken teaches on Saturdays during the all school workouts where he inspires young and old alike with his wisdom and knowledge of the art.

Matthew Chin

That’s Matthew, right in the middle!

I started training when I was 6 years old. I heard about Naga from both a friend and my older cousin, and decided to come try out a class. I’ve have been training ever since! When I’m not training or teaching, you’ll see me in the halls of Sunset High School. Besides that, I like to play drums and recreational soccer. The thing I like most about teaching is giving back what I’ve learned and seeing the students grow and progress in their training.

Matthew teaches in the Tuesday and Thursday Tigers classes where he’s got a firm countenance and cares very much that all the students are learning and progressing. He also likes to make sure that class is fun.

Radhika Mashru

I have been training since 2008! My dad saw a newspaper article about how a kid defended himself using self-defense so my sister and I took a class and absolutely loved it.

I enjoy working out and being active in general and spend most of my time playing tennis or doing something outside. When I have time, I love playing the ukulele.

My favorite thing about teaching is connecting and having fun with my teammates. I love seeing how they progress, advance, and grow as individuals. Poekoelan has motivated me to stay active and healthy and is something that has changed and impacted me for the better. I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am now without it.

Radhika teaches on Mondays in the Tigers classes. She’s calm and patient and loves to connect with the kids.

Hersh Gupta

I started training Poekoelan in 2009 when I was 10 years old. I was incredibly interested in martial arts as a kid and began learning as much as I possibly could from wherever I could; books from the library on any art I could get my hands on. My mom discovered a person in my school who trained at Naga. I heard about his brown sash test which was 24 hours long. We asked his mother for details and showed up that week for Saturday classes. I fell in love with it that morning and never looked back!

I love getting to meet new people and forming a bond with students of all ages. Getting to know people and become close with them not only as an instructor but as a friend, makes training more enjoyable for all of us. I learn a great deal from teaching as well. Through working with people of different abilities, I grow as an instructor and become more versatile. Teaching often brings a welcome challenge to shake up the way I’ve been doing things.

Outside my training, and besides school, I spend time creating and playing music and being active by working out or running.

Hersh is currently a freshman at Oregon State University!

Twila Kaye

I started training in 2005.  I was looking for an active class to take with my children (then 7 and 9 years old) and found a class at the Garden Home Rec Center.  My son and I have been training ever since. 

One of my favorite things about teaching is watching the growth in confidence and abilities in students of all ages.  The other is finding ways to adapt some of the things we do for people with injuries or physical limitations.

When I’m not teaching or working, I love baking, walking in nature, sewing and crochet, which are very therapeutic for me. I also enjoy reading, watching TV/Netflix and hanging out with my family (including Bear, the dog).

 My favorite ice breaker game is called “Two Truths and a Lie.”  See if you can figure out which one is a lie:

1.  I played French Horn from 4th grade through college and beyond.

2.  I was my grade school stilt walker champion in 3rd grade.

3.  I feel like I’ve slept my day away if I sleep past 7:30.

Be sure to tell me if you want to guess!

Twila can be seen teaching in a variety of Tigers classes and the Teen/Adult Beginning class. 

Brenden Murphy

I’ve been training since 2009, and started when I was 10. My friend and teammate, Hersh, introduced me to Poekoelan a few weeks after he started training and I’ve been training ever since. I love working with kids and teaching ways they can empower themselves through self-defense. Teaching has given me leadership qualities that have helped me in all aspects of my life.

When I’m not training, I go running, read, spend time with friends, drive to cool places and work.

Being a part of the Naga community has influenced and changed my life for the better in so many different ways and I’m so grateful for everything my teachers have taught me.

Brenden is becoming a Viking at Western Washington University, his planned major is Bio Science.

Aaron Weingarten

I started training in 2013 when  I was 30 years old. I’d been in a serious car accident and felt training would help me recover, which it thankfully has!

I’m a big guy, and get an enormous amount of joy when I see people go from “there is no way I can flip HIM,” to me being on the ground, having been flipped and flipped hard, and watching their eyes just grow. I can see the “I did it!” move across their faces. It’s a great feeling!

 For the most part, when I’m not on the mat, I am home reading or playing games. However, I love a good adventure, so I try to get out and enjoy what the world has to offer. When I don’t feel I need to take something seriously, I am an utter goofball.

Aaron can be seen teaching in Tigers classes and is a regular instructor in the Teen & Adult Beginners class where at some point, you are likely to flip him over your back!

Alden Kaye

I started training with my mom and sister when I was seven.

When I first started training, we were looking for something to do as a family to fill up our summer, so we went to a few classes at the Garden Home Rec Center and haven’t stopped. My favorite thing about teaching is seeing students’ progress on an individual level. I love it when you can see that something clicks in a student’s mind.

When I’m not training or teaching, I occupy my time with anything creative and enjoy movies, books, TV, art, etc.

Alden is currently a Junior at Western Oregon University.

Sarah Daniels

Sarah is pictured above at her summer internship at the Reed College Nuclear Lab!

I started training when I was 11. My mom, my sister, and I all started training at the same time so that we could learn some self-defense. Once I started coming to Naga, I realized how awesome it is and I’ve been here ever since!

My favorite thing about teaching is seeing how much more confident people become after they realize how powerful they are!

If you’re a potential student: I can’t wait to meet you! If you’re already a student: say hi at the next class, it’s a lot more fun than reading my bio 🙂

When I’m not at Naga, I spend most of my time doing school-related activities. I’m currently a senior, and my favorite subject is physics (but I like everything else too). Outside of school, I enjoy cooking and eating food, doing art, spending time with my family and friends, and anything outdoors.

Sarah is a regular at our Saturday morning all-school workout. She can also be seen on the mat teaching beginners classes during the week!

Audrey Binnett

I started training in about 2009 when I was six or seven. I always had a lot of energy when I was little and didn’t take part in any physical activities. I was a reader, not a sports kid, and when my friend told me about it, I was willing to give it a shot.

I honestly love helping people, because it makes me feel useful. Teaching is something I think I do well. I also love to be around the students I teach!

I’m an artist and I do a lot of writing, when I’m not teaching. I also enjoy theater and take my schoolwork seriously.

You will find Audrey in a variety of different classes sharing her wisdom and joy for teaching.

Every time I attend a class, my instructors inspire me to achieve the level of knowledge that they have through practice and training.

It’s very similar to what I imagine being trained by superheroes would feel like. 🙂

Leslie Smith

Cook and Theater Maintenance, Various Major Portland Entertainment Destinations

Practice