What We Teach

At ASKJ we teach a customized system of martial arts techniques known as the 5 Circle System. The 5 Circle System is an integration of techniques from numerous martial arts, including Taekwondo, Karate, Judo, and Jiu-Jitsu. ASKJ is a nationally recognized non-contact school based upon the premise that power is useless without control. The students do not make contact during sparring practice, which make the classes at ASKJ suitable for individuals of all ages. Water bags and board breaks are used to determine whether students are executing the techniques with enough focus and power to defend themselves. Classes are grouped by age and rank, and our students learn in the traditional group setting. However, individual instruction is also available upon request.

Achievement at ASKJ is not measured in championships or trophies. Instead, achievement is measured in terms of accomplishing personal goals, conquering fear, and achieving personal excellence. Each belt testing is followed by a banquet for the students who tested, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the students' accomplishments both on and off the floor. Grandmaster Byrne takes great pride in the efforts and achievements of his students, not simply within the martial arts arena but also in their personal lives. He and the staff at ASKJ are wholly dedicated to teaching not simply the martial arts, but the tenets of personal excellence as well.

Taekwondo Student Oath

I shall observe the Tenets of Taekwondo. I shall respect my instructors and seniors. I shall never misuse Taekwondo. I will be a champion of peace and justice. I will build a more peaceful world.

Tenets of Taekwondo

Courtesy
Taekwondo students should be courteous both inside and outside the Do-Chang. They should try to develop a spirit of mutual cooperation and justice. Students should have respect for those senior to them in age and rank.
Integrity
Integrity implies that one must be able to define right from wrong and do what is right. He must not misrepresent himself or his skills. A student who has integrity does not gain rank for ego purposes or for the feeling of power, but rather for personal growth and improvement of technique.
Perseverance
There is an old Oriental saying, "Patience leads to virtue or merit." To achieve something, whether it is a high degree or the perfection of a technique, one must set his goal, then constantly persevere. One of the most important secrets in becoming a leader is to overcome every difficulty with perseverance.
Self Control
This Tenet, as are all the others, is important both inside and outside the Do-Chang. Whether one is free sparring or conducting his personal affairs, one must exercise self-control and respect the rights and welfare of others.
Indomitable Spirit
Indomitable spirit is shown when a courageous person and his principles are pitted against overwhelming odds. When a student is confronted with an injustice, he should deal with it without fear or hesitation.

Grandmaster John Byrne

Grandmaster John Byrne began his training at the age of six in his hometown of Philadelphia and earned his first black belt at age 15. He, and his identical twin brother, Grandmaster Edward Byrne, 10th degree black belt, practiced the martial arts together. Grandmaster Byrne and his brother were inseparable and earned numerous World Records in board breaking competitions across the country.

After a stint in the United States Air Force, Grandmaster John Byrne began teaching martial arts at the Miller Park YMCA in 1968. His curriculum vitae includes articles and brochures on the art of self-defense and property protection. Many of the publications were printed in various martial arts magazines.


Grandmaster Ed Byrne

Grandmasters John Byrne and Edward Byrne founded ASKJ and incorporated numerous martial arts into one inclusive art known as the 5 Circle System. When Grandmaster Edward Byrne died in 1989, Grandmaster John Byrne continued their goal to operate the best martial arts school in the Midwest.


Grandmaster Byrne, instructors, and students receiving awards at the WHFSC Martial Arts Hall of Fame banquet in 2013.

Grandmaster John Byrne, who is a 9th degree black belt, holds degrees in seven different martial arts. He has achieved grand champion status in Karate, Taekwondo, and Judo. Over the years he has earned many awards, including "Grandmaster of the Year", "Grandmaster Instructor of the Year", and "Lifetime Achievement Award". However, Grandmaster Byrne is proudest that ASKJ has been recognized as "School of the Year" on numerous occasions.

Grandmaster Byrne wishes to express his deepest gratitude to Soke Frank Sanchez, Executive Director of the World Head of Family Sokeship Council, for his inspiration in the development of this web site.

Grandmaster's Motto: Each individual has his or her own unique fingerprint. Each student must learn to use his or her particular physical, mental, and emotional qualities. Only in this way can students better serve others as well as themselves.

 

Quality instruction is provided at ASKJ through our professionally trained and nationally certified instructors. The instruction at ASKJ is based on a researched curriculum that includes helping students grow physically, socially, and emotionally, with a strong emphasis placed on cooperation and leadership skills. Instructors are taught to adapt their teaching methods based on the learning style and ability of their students.

Instructors

V. McGill

Master Valerie McGill is the current owner of ASKJ. Master McGill has been with ASKJ since 1991 and currently holds the rank of 6D Black Belt.  Master McGill instructs the Junior Beginner class on Wednesday nights, the Adult classes on Monday and Wednesday nights, and several fitness classes throughout the week.  She also founded the ASKJ After School Program and instructs the ASKJ "Little Kickers" class (for preschool children) on Tuesday afternoons.  Master McGill is also an instructor in the Tactical and Traditional Weapons Programs at ASKJ.  Master McGill has been inducted into the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, including 2015 when she was recognized as "Outstanding Martial Arts Program Director".

Master McGill earned her Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from UNO and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  In addition to owning and operating ASKJ, Ms. McGill is employed as an adjunct professor in the graduate program at Clarkson College.

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J. O'Malley

Senior Master John O'Malley has been with ASKJ since 1979 and currently holds the rank of 9D Black Belt.  Senior Master O'Malley began his martial arts training at the Maple Street YMCA under the instruction of Grandmasters John and Ed Byrne.  In 1984, Senior Master O'Malley was asked to take over instruction at the Maple Street YMCA where he continued to run classes on Thursday nights until the end of 2015.  Currently, Senior Master O'Malley instructs children and adult classes on a rotating basis at the ASKJ Headquarters and at ASKJ Harvey Oaks on Thursday nights.  Senior Master O'Malley has been inducted into the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, including 2015 when he was recognized for the "Silver Life Achievement Award".

Senior Master O'Malley earned his Bachelors Degree in Marketing from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is currently employed as Director of Sales for Mutual of Omaha.

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M. Joe

Master Mary Joe has been with ASKJ since 1984 and currently holds the rank of 8D Black Belt.  Master Joe instructs the Adult class at ASKJ Headquarters and at ASKJ Harvey Oaks on a rotating basis on Thursday nights.  Master Joe is an instructor in the Traditional Weapons Program and has experience with numerous weapons, including the bo and sai.

Master Joe has been inducted into the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, including 2012 when she was recognized for her accomplishments as Chief Master Instructor and in 2015 when she was recognized for the "Silver Life Achievement Award".

Master Joe has a Bachelors of Science in Composite Science/Math and a Bachelors of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology.  Master Joe is currently employed at Creighton University in the Radiation Safety Dept, which maintains the Rules and Regulations from the State of NE and the NRC for all PhDs doing research with radioactive materials.  Master Joe oversees the Nuclear Medicine Dept. and the Radiology/Oncology Dept. at CUMC.  Master Joe is also an avid singer and is involved in several local music groups.

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V. Grantham

Master Vivian Grantham has been with ASKJ since 1982 and currently holds the rank of 6D Black Belt.  Master Grantham instructs the Adult class at ASKJ on Tuesday nights.  Master Grantham is the Loads Specialist at ASKJ and has been inducted into the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, including 2010 when she was recognized for Outstanding Instruction and 2015 when she was recognized for the "Silver Life Achievement Award". 

Master Grantham has a Bachelors in Accounting and was employed as a CPA for many years.

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D. Dryden

Mr. Dustin Dryden has been with ASKJ since 1987 and currently holds the rank of 5D Black Belt.  Mr. Dryden began his martial arts training at age 10 with his twin brother, David, who is also a black belt at ASKJ.  Mr. Dryden instructs the Junior Advanced class at ASKJ on Wednesday nights; however, he is currently on a leave of absence to care for his newborn twins!   

Mr. Dryden has a Bachelors of Science in Criminal Justice from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is currently employed as a training contractor for the United States Air Force.
 
Mr. Dryden's favorite quote is: "Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success." Dale Carnegie

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B. Hilson

Mr. Bryan Hilson has been with ASKJ since 1984 and currently holds the rank of 5D Black Belt. Mr. Hilson began his martial arts training at the Maple Street YMCA under the instruction of Mr. John O'Malley. After receiving his black belt in 1986, Mr. Hilson spent the next 10 years assisting Mr. O'Malley at the YMCA. In 1996, Mr. Hilson tested in front of a panel of Grandmasters, including Grandmaster John Byrne, at the WHFSC's Annual International Convention in New York. He was promoted from a 3rd Degree Black Belt to a 5th Degree Black Belt by Grandmaster Byrne.  Mr. Hilson was inducted into the WHFSC Martial Arts Hall of Fame in 2013 for Outstanding Instruction.

In January 2013, Mr. Hilson opened a branch of ASKJ in the Harvey Oaks Shopping Center on 144th and Center Street in Omaha, NE. He offers both junior and adult martial arts classes 5 days per week and adult fitness kickboxing classes 4 days per week. 

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J. Jacobs

Ms. Jordan Jacobs has been with ASKJ since 1993 and currently holds the rank of 4D Black Belt.  Ms. Jacobs instructs the Junior Beginner and Junior Advanced classes at ASKJ on Tuesdays and Fridays.  Ms. Jacobs began her martial arts training at the West YMCA under the instruction of Mr. John O'Malley and Mrs. Lynn Snoza.  Upon becoming a black belt, she served as an assistant instructor at the West YMCA on Thursday nights until 2015.  Ms. Jacobs is also a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed Basic Bo, Intermediate Bo, Advanced Bo, Basic Sai, Intermediate Sai, and the Tactical Weapons Course: Level 1.  Ms. Jacobs is the Children's Specialist at ASKJ and has been inducted into the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on numerous occasions, including 2012 when she was recognized for Outstanding Instruction.

Ms. Jacobs has a Bachelors of Science degree from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is currently employed as an Omaha Police Officer.

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J. Trizila

Mr. Jonathon Trizila has been with ASKJ since 1989 and currently holds the rank of 4D Black Belt.  Mr. Trizila is the Judo/Jiu-Jitsu Specialist and the Tactical Weapons Specialist at ASKJ.  He instructs the Tactical Weapons Course on Saturday afternoons and various fitness classes throughout the week.  He is also an assistant instructor for the Junior Beginner class on Wednesday nights and the Adult classes on Monday and Wednesday nights.  He also instructs the "Little Kicker" preschool class on Tuesday afternoon and assists with the After School Program as needed.  Mr. Trizila has been inducted into the WHFSC International Hall of Fame on several occasions, including 2013 for Most Innovative Training Program and in 2014 for the Shield of Strength Award.

Mr. Trizila earned his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.  He was then commissioned as an officer in the United States Marine Corps, where he served 10 years as a Platoon, Battery, and Company Commander, as well as the Officer in Charge of the Marine Corps Shooting Team.  Mr. Trizila's service included 2 deployments to Afghanistan and 1 to Iraq.

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B. Kraay

Mr. Brent Kraay has been with ASKJ since 1996 and currently holds the rank of 3D Black Belt. Mr. Kraay instructs the Junior Beginner and Junior Advanced classes at ASKJ on Monday nights. Mr. Kraay began his martial arts training at the West YMCA under the instruction of Mr. John O'Malley and Mrs. Lynn Snoza. After receiving his 1st degree black belt in 2002, Mr. Kraay spent several years assisting Mr. O'Malley and Mrs. Snoza at the West YMCA. Mr. Kraay is also a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed Basic Bo and the Tactical Weapons Course: Level 1.  In 2004, Mr. Kraay was recognized by the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame as an Outstanding Assistant Instructor.

Mr. Kraay has a Master's degree in Engineering from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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R. Petersen

Ms. Regina Petersen has been with ASKJ since 1992 and currently holds the rank of 3D Black Belt. Ms. Petersen is the head instructor at Montclair Community Center on Thursday nights where she instructs classes for both juniors and adults. Ms. Petersen is also the Traditional Weapons Specialist at ASKJ and instructs Bo and Sai classes to black belts at ASKJ.  Ms. Petersen has been inducted into the WHFSC Martial Arts Hall of Fame on several occasions, including 2004 when she was recognized for Outstanding Instruction.

Ms. Petersen received her Masters in Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is currently employed as an elementary school teacher at Franklin Elementary.

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A. Snoza

Mr. Adam Snoza has been with ASKJ since 1992 and currently holds the rank of 3D Black Belt.  Mr. Snoza began his martial arts training under the instruction of Mr. John O'Malley and Mrs. Lynn Snoza at the West YMCA.  Mr. Snoza began assisting with classes at the West YMCA in 1997, when he received his 1st degree black belt.  In 2011, Mr. Snoza started an ASKJ satellite school at Roncalli High School.  The classes at Roncalli are currently being taught by Mr. Jason Lahowetz on Sunday afternoons.  Mr. Snoza is also a member of the Traditional Weapons Program and has successfully completed the Basic Bo, Intermediate Bo, and Advanced Bo curricula.  Mr. Snoza has also been inducted into the WHFSC Martial Arts Hall of Fame on several occasions, including 2015 for the Spirit of Budo Award.

Mr. Snoza has a Bachelors in English from Creighton University and has been a high school English teacher since 2006.  Mr. Snoza brings that background into his instruction.  He prides himself on his adaptable teaching and his focus on precision and purpose of technique.

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D. Sopher

Mr. Sopher has been with ASKJ since 1997 and currently holds the rank of 3D Black Belt.  Mr. Sopher instructs the Adult class at ASKJ on Thursday nights.  Mr. Sopher is also a member of the Weapons Program and has sucessfully completed the Basic Bo, Intermediate Bo, and Basic Sai curricula.

Mr. Sopher is pursuing a Bachelors in Accounting from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and is currently employed at Midwest Manufacturing.

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G. Chen

Georgianna Peng-Chen has been with ASKJ since 2002 and currently holds the rank of 2D Black Belt.  In 2000, Mrs. Peng-Chen's sons began taking martial arts under the instruction of Mr. Scott Tibbels at AV Sorensen Center.  After watching her children for several years, Mrs. Peng-Chen also began training under Mr. Tibbels.  Since earning her black belt in 2005, Mrs. Peng-Chen has served as an assistant instructor to Mr. Tibbels for the junior class on Thursday nights at AV Sorensen Center.  Mrs. Peng-Chen views her martial arts training as a work in progress and sees each class as an opportunity to learn.

Mrs. Peng-Chen began studying Pharmacology at the University of Texas at Austin and completed her studies at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.  Mrs. Peng-Chen has been employed as a staff pharmacist at Creighton University Medical Center since 1989.

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K. Westfall

Dr. Kelly Westfall has been with ASKJ since 2000 and currently holds the rank of 2R Black Belt. Dr. Westfall instructs the Junior Beginner and Junior Advanced classes at ASKJ on Monday nights. Dr. Westfall began her martial arts training at the West YMCA under the instruction of Mr. John O'Malley and Mrs. Lynn Snoza.  Dr. Westfall is also a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully Basic Bo, Intermediate Bo, and the Tactical Weapons Course: Level 1.

Dr. Westfall has a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a Bachelors of Science in Biology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

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L. Lofshult

Ms. Lynn Lofshult has been with ASKJ since 2009 and currently holds the rank of 1D black belt. She began her martial arts training at Iowa State University and made it to green belt. Her daughter, Kelsey, started with ASKJ in 2003 and was the inspiration for Ms. Lofshult's return to the martial arts. Ms. Lofshult instructs the Junior Beginner class on Thursday nights at ASKJ, and she is also the Chief Instructor of the After School Program. Ms. Lofshult also works the front desk Monday thru Friday and on Testings.  Ms. Lofshult is also a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed the basic bo curriculum. Ms. Lofshult has been inducted into the WHFSC Martial Arts Hall of Fame on several occasions, including 2012 when she was recognized for Outstanding Instruction of an After School Program. 

Ms. Lofshult earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and mass communication from Iowa State University, with a minor in speech communication.  She worked for 10 years at Central State Health & Life Co. of Omaha in direct marketing, corporate communication, and agency marketing.  Since the birth of her second of four children, Ms. Lofshult has worked as a stay-at-home mom where she has perfected the art of cookie making!

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T. O'Donnell

Mr. Terry O'Donnell has been with ASKJ since 1994 and currently holds the rank of 1D Black Belt.  Mr. O'Donnell instructs the Junior and Adult classes at ASKJ on Saturday afternoons.  Mr. O'Donnell's son, Alex O'Donnell, is also a Black Belt at ASKJ.  Mr. O'Donnell is a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed the Basic Bo curriculum.  Mr. O'Donnell has been recognized by the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame on several occasions, including in 2000 for Outstanding Instruction and in 2015 for Outstanding Loyalty.

Mr. O'Donnell received his Masters in Economics from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and is currently employed as a Senior Business Intelligence Analyst at Mutual of Omaha.   

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J. Wilburn

Mr. Jack Wilburn has been with ASKJ since 1995 and currently holds the rank of 1D Black Belt.  Mr. Wilburn began his martial arts training at the AV Sorensen Center under the instruction of Mr. Scott Tibbels.  Upon receiving his brown belt, Mr. Wilburn began serving as an assistant instructor to Mr. Tibbels for the junior class on Thursday evenings.  Mr. Wilburn earned his black belt in 2002, and continues to assist Mr. Tibbels at the AV Sorensen Center.  Mr. Wilburn is also a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed Basic Bo, Intermediate Bo, Basic Sai, and the Tactical Weapons Course: Level 1.

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L. Wright

Mr. Wright has been with ASKJ since 1995 and currently holds the rank of 1D Black Belt.  Mr. Wright is a member of the Weapons Program and has successfully completed the Basic Bo curriculum. Mr. Wright began his taekwondo training in Council Bluffs, IA in the mid 80's with life long friend and Korean martial artist, "Chan Ho Kang". In 1995, Mr. Wright joined ASKJ to continue his martial arts training, and was later joined by his daughter, Ciara, who is currently a blue belt. In 2010, Mr. Wright was recognized by the WHFSC International Martial Arts Hall of Fame for Outstanding Instruction of Pressure Points.

Mr. Wright works with the Douglas County Sheriff's Department as a civilian security officer at the Civic Center in downtown Omaha.

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