Village Martial Arts provides a platform for the exploration of self and one’s relationships through training and the application of martial arts. All students who train at Village Martial Arts are given the opportunity to grow and expand not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well.
Meet the Team
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Head Taekwondo Instructor, 4th Dan
Michelle Menendez, founder of Village Martial Arts has a 4th Dan black belt and is certified 3rd Dan Kukkiwon. Her passion for martial arts began in the early 80's when she studied taekwondo under Grand Master Soo Se Cho (earning a green belt) while also practicing gymnastics as a teen.
It was not until 2006 that she returned to the mat under the instruction of Grand Master Jeff Wade of South Miami Taekwondo that sealed her lasting love of Martial Arts. She fine-tuned her skills and found a calling as an instructor becoming a certified instructor under in 2010 and instructor at the University of Miami taekwondo club. Her students were drawn to her kind spirit and tutelage. She became known for her skill of breaking down techniques, love of forms, and for her no nonsense approach. She is dedicated to bringing out the best in her students while honoring the tenets of Taekwondo: courtesy, integrity, perseverance, self control, and indomitable spirit.
In her free time she enjoys cycling and running with her husband Domingo Rodriguez who practices Aikido.
Head Aikido Instructor
Darren is our principal Aikido instructor. He started his Aikido path in 1994 in Massachussetts with Lou Perriello at Northeast Aikikai and earned his black belt in Los Angeles with Lawrence Novick, PhD of ACE Aikido. In addition to Aikido, Darren has also practiced Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
If you ask Darren why he started Aikido, he will tell you that "Above the Law was a cool movie." That was years ago! Darren continues to practice because he believes “Aikido is a unique exploration of self. It is a self-development process, not simply a skill/sport/system. Aikido is psychology in motion."
Darren is the married father of 2 girls and works professionally as an engineer.
What his students have to say about Darren:
"Darren is sincere, accessible, methodical, challenging, creative, organic, spontaneous, patient, both a good practitioner and instructor, applies and explores all aspects of the art, comprehensive".
Dr. Justin Newman
Guest Aikido Instructor
Dr. Justin Newman Sensei began his aikido training in 1993, while a premed student at the University of Miami. He was attracted to aikido because of its graceful, engaging, and joyful qualities, along with its ability to restore conflict situations to harmony with nonviolence. During the past 24 years of aikido training, he has had the opportunity to study with several of the Founder's world-renown instructors, such as Shihans Mitsugi Saotome, Hiroshi Ikeda, Mary Heiny, Frank Doran, Ed Baker, and Robert Nadeau, as well as familiarizing himself with aikijujitsu, iaido, tai chi, reiki, and yoga. Dr. Newman Sensei has been under the supervision and encouragement of Shihan Robert Nadeau for approximately 17 years, and this relationship has completely shaped the direction of both his training and personal development. There are a few highlights that are shared in Dr. Newman’s classes, as he explores the various dimensions that present themselves through personal development, among them is his emphasis on being simultaneously comfortable yet powerful, and that the process of aikido can be an incredibly transformative one. Dr. Newman Sensei currently holds the rank of 3rd dan, and is a licensed doctor of acupuncture and holistic medicine.
Guest Aikido & Taekwondo Instructor