SOUTH-SIDE DOJO INSTRUCTORS: MARK CLARK
Sensei Mark Clark began studying Tae Kwon Do at the age of nine and earned a black belt at age thirteen. Afterword, he began studying Aikido from a direct student of Saotome Sensei. From his first class, he knew it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life.
Mark trained privately with a Chun Kuk Do practitioner and earned his second black belt at the age of 18 in Chuck Norris's system, and during college resumed training in Aikido under Doris Evans Sensei, another direct student of Mitsugi Saotome.
After graduation, Mark continued to study under Tom and Mary McIntire of Nashville Aikikai, also students of Saotome Sensei. He earned his Shodan (1st black belt) in 2011 and founded Cookeville Aikido, the first traditional Aikido school in the Upper Cumberland.
Mark attended an invitation-only seminar at Saotome Sensei's private ranch, the Aiki shrine near Sarasota, Florida, and in 2014 earned the rank of Nidan (second rank black belt), and Sandan (third rank black belt) in 2019.
In addition to running Cookeville Aikido, Mark teaches English at Cookeville High School, and is a full-time father to a young teen and two active toddlers. Mark brings the systematic instruction he learned as an academic teacher and the patience he gained from parenting to his Aikido instruction and practice.
Sensei Damon West has been training in martial arts for over 14 years. He attained the rank of 2nd Dan in Tracy Kenpo under Sensei Stephen Williams and Sensei Erik Callahan. He is in the process of completing his 3rd Dan in Kenpo. He has also trained extensively in Aikido, under Sensei Mark Clark, and in Tai Chi and other martial arts with Nikki Desch. He takes an eclectic approach to his martial arts study and to teaching. In the spirit of Kenpo he takes a practical view of self-defense, and training. He frequently attends seminars and is active in a number of martial arts organizations.