We never know how our emphasis on strength and leadership will benefit our students exactly. Sensei Joel Craven is one of our finest examples of how lessons learned early in life can last a lifetime. Sensei Craven is the Chief Instructor of the original Authentic Martial Arts location in Largo, where his training first began. Sensei Craven took his first martial arts class with Kaicho Ric Martin in 1982. “I remember him as a shy six year old who always tried his best. Back then we didn’t have any classes for children. The kids trained right alongside the adults. The training was very intense and physical. Joel always surprised everyone. No matter what the challenge, he never hesitated. The ranking system was incredibly difficult and there was no such thing as a Junior Blackbelt. I had no idea how long he would last. I am still amazed when I think back to those days and realize what a great role model and leader he has become. He has incredible determination. He is my definition of a complete Blackbelt, both personally and professionally,” says Kaicho Ric Martin. Sensei Craven has seen it all. He was there in 1983 when Authentic Martial Arts took their commitment to an exciting new level. A new world-class dojo was built on stilts over a lake on Missouri Avenue, in Largo. He was the student leader of the dojo, and performed frequent public demonstrations inspiring others to join Authentic Martial Arts. After the youth program was formed in 1985, he was called upon to help new students with individual lessons. Later he became a Junior Assistant Instructor, and eventually took charge of the entire youth program. He competed successfully in National and International Blackbelt Championships in 1993 and 1994. He was a finalist both years. At eighteen years old he was a member of the U.S. Team in 1994, and competed successfully in The All Okinawa Karate Championship Series in Okinawa, Japan; the year Kaicho Ric Martin became the first American to ever win. In 2003 he became a career martial arts instructor and began the process of becoming a Chief Instructor. In 2004 he helped build the CareerDevelopmentCenter, and in 2006 he played an instrumental role when Authentic Martial Arts opened their second location in Seminole, Fl. He is now responsible for every aspect of the Largo Dojo.
He is a member of the National Association of Professional Martial Artists and shoulders more responsibilities than any one else in the Authentic Martial Arts organization. His leadership is felt throughout the community and is second in command to Kaicho Ric Martin. Sensei Joel Craven understands HISTORY, CREDIBILITY, AND VISION.