Meet Your Instructors…

NAGA instructor Lisa Nolen's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Eric Gorman's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Matthew Chin's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Ken Westin's headshot
Brad Schofield

I started training martial arts as a child and stopped when I was about 12 years old. As an adult, I experienced a back injury from work. Since my son had been training Poekoelan for a few years, I decided it would be nice to do something together and help strengthen my back/body. So in 2016 I decided to start training Poekoelan.

One of the many things I like about the art of Poekoelan, is that it teaches us to strive to find our inner strength—strength that we didn’t know we had until we are pushed past our limits, then overcome them, expanding our limits.

When I train, I often find myself confronted with challenges—physically, mentally and emotionally. Our teammates and teachers are so supportive in every step and help us to access and cultivate our inner strength.

As an instructor, I find inspiration seeing students pushing past challenges.  It’s so rewarding when I observe them accomplish a feat, such as flipping a person over their back or finally getting that form or hold.  Empowerment through achievement is an amazing thing to witness.  I enjoy sharing things I know with others. Teaching is a great honor, I am grateful for the opportunity.

We practice a broken mirror style, which means that every person who trains Poekoelan has his or her own individual flavor. I love seeing how everyone adds their own beauty to the art.  It’s a wonderful joy to train and teach our art.

When not on the mat, I work as an electrician.  I enjoy spending time with my family, hanging out with friends, playing and singing kirtan (devotional music).  I nourish my spiritual life through the devotional practice of bhakti yoga.

When not on the mat, Brad works as an electrician.  He enjoys spending time with his family, hanging out with friends and playing and singing kirtan (devotional music).  He nourishes his spiritual life through the devotional practice of bhakti yoga.

NAGA instructor Radhika Mashru's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Hersh Gupta's headshot
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!

NAGA instructor Twila Kaye's headshot
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. 

Read about Mas Twila’s black belt test and see her board breaking sequence here.

NAGA instructor Brenden Murphy's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Aaron Weingarten's headshot
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!

NAGA instructor Alden Kaye's headshot
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.

NAGA instructor Sarah Daniels' headshot
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 studying at Swarthmore University in Philadelphia, PA. She can also be seen on the mat teaching classes during the summer though!

Read her essay about her journey to black belt. It’s the essay she submitted on her college application!

NAGA instructor Audrey Binnett's headshot
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.

Read her black belt essay and find out more.

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

The word "practice" in Chinese


Official golden NAGA logo


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