SKC NoVA Instructors

All SKC NoVA instructors are certified through rigorous instructor training courses that meet the highest of international standards. Simply attaining a black belt does not make one an instructor. Lack of knowledge and training, as seen in many “home-made masters,” are what cause physical injury and disappointment for students. We, at SKC, pride ourselves on maintaining and promoting a uniform standard of excellence.

Ahmad A. Mazhari, Hachidan (8th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 52 Years
4th Generation Karate Master
Chief Instructor, Shotokan Karate Center

International Certified Instructor
Official Examiner
Official Judge

Favorite Techniques: All Techniques
Specialized Techniques: Jab, Reverse Punch, Back-fist Strike, Spinning Back-fist Strike, Front Snap Kick, Back Kick, Foot Sweep

Born in 1950 in Tehran, Iran, Ahmad-Ali Mazhari encountered Karate at age nine through his older brother, who lived in England at the time. He started imitating so-called karate movements and techniques that his brother picked up from a few training sessions, but mostly films. Young Mazhari was just captivated by the movements — they appeared very unusual yet fascinating to him. He started regular karate training in 1965, comprised of a mixture of Okinawan styles at an immature level. Being a perfectionist, he always strived to gain as much karate knowledge as possible, at that time only available through books, films and magazines. With a connection to Japan through his brother’s business affiliates, young Mazhari was more or less familiar with the world of Japanese martial arts. Soon, at a karate gathering, he saw the film of a Karate championship in Japan with a match between Keinosuke Enoeda Sensei and Mr. Hiroshi Shirai. It was love at first sight, as Mazhari Sensei puts it. Master Enoeda just mesmerized him with his movements and attitude. That was also when he heard the name Shotokan for the first time.

After a short period, Iran Karate Academy (Rezayar) started offering Shotokan and Wadorio styles at a primary level. Mazhari Sensei started training at the Academy. Because of his enthusiasm and perseverance and the lack of experienced instructors, he also started teaching Shotokan. In 1971 he opened his private dojo. Mazhari Sensei’s trainings, to this day, are known for their intensity and have always attracted only very serious practitioners.

Throughout these years his wish was to find and practice with Enoeda Sensei. By then Mazhari Sensei knew many old time Japanese instructors and had practiced with many well-known karate legends, such as Mr. Mikami, Mr. Okamotto, and Mr. Abe and his assistant Mr. Yahara, some of whom conducted seminars at the Iran Karate Federation; yet none could keep him from dreaming to meet and train with Master Enoeda, whose spirit, character, and techniques truly spoke to Mazhari Sensei. After years of searching tirelessly, in the mid 1970s, Mazhari Sensei found Master Enoeda’s dojo on a trip to London at a point when he had almost lost hope. Mazhari Sensei then started his training at the JKA central dojo in London, the famed Marshall Street Dojo, under Master Keinosuke Enoeda, the Tiger of Shotokan. Mazhari Sensei became an active member of the JKA and KUGB.

In the late 1970s early 1980s, due to changes in the Iranian political landscape and the subsequent difficulties in obtaining visas, Mazhari Sensei had to leave England. In 1980 he moved to Greece while awaiting his permanent residency visa to the United States where most of his family members resided. From 1980 to 1982 he continued to teach and practice at a JKA affiliated dojo in Athens, until he migrated to the US in 1982 and settled in Northern Virginia (NOVA). Mazhari Sensei lived closest to the ISKF headquarters in Philadelphia and although it was more convenient to become affiliated with Mr. Okazaki’s organization, following Master Enoeda’s recommendation, he continued his training in New York under Master Masataka Mori, the Master Teacher of Shotokan. Mazhari Sensei became an active member of JKA of New York and Shotokan Karate-Do International.

For an inherently loyal person like Mazhari Sensei, having to switch to a new karate master was not an easy undertaking. It was even harder to maintain the delicate balance of attending to two equally loved and admired masters, who were also close friends with one another, especially when they were both present at seminars and camps. Throughout the years Mazhari Sensei practiced with the best of the best in the world of karate — Sugiura Motokuni, Taiji Kase, Hiroshi Shoji, Hirokazu Kanazawa, Takauki Mikami, Hiroshi Shirai, Toru Yamaguchi, Keigo Abe, Katsunori Tsuyama, Masaaki Ueki, Masao Kawazoe, Yoshiharu Osaka, Gen Hayakawa, Nikio Yahara, to name a few — but he stayed true to his only two direct senseis, Master Enoeda and Master Mori, and he maintained his connection with Enoeda Sensei until his very last days.

Mazhari Sensei established the first JKA affiliated Shotokan Karate dojo in NOVA in 1982. It was named Shotokan Karate Center (SKC) after Master Enoeda’s dojo and in the memory of his years of practice in London. Mazhari Sensei completed all JKA courses to the highest level. His dojo remained one of the most serious, dedicated and active dojos in the organization. Mazhari Sensei continued his affiliation with the Japan Karate Association until 2006, when he finally separated from the JKA. Mazhari Sensei was welcomed by many well-known organizations throughout the world led by senior Japanese instructors, but after being with two of the absolute best, The Tiger and The Master Teacher of Shotokan, he wishes not to practice under any other. From an organizational point of view he no longer wanted to be affiliated with any other Japanese organization.

Many of Mazhari Sensei’s students continue to practice and/or teach Karate throughout the world. Mazhari Sensei’s students were always among the top medalists in championships and brought back numerous titles, cups and medals for the dojo throughout the years. Mazhari Sensei maintains the belief that the purpose of karate practice is not to achieve the short-lived title of a champion, but to reach the highest level of humanity.


Payman Mazhari, Yodan (4th Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 38 Years
Certified Instructor

Payman Mazhari started Shotokan karate in 1976 under the supervision of his father Ahmad Mazhari Sensei, who taught Shotokan karate in its authentic form and style during an era of many self-proclaimed masters with no heritage to the art. By his good fortune, Payman did not have to look far to find an exceptional dojo.

In 1979, he joined his father in England and became a member of the Karate Union of Great Britain (KUGB) under the leadership of Master Keinosuke Enoeda. Payman continued his intense training under the watchful eyes of his father. In 1982, he became a member of Shotokan Karate Center (SKC) under the leadership of Ahmad Mazhari Sensei. He also was an active member of Shotokan Karate-do America under the leadership of Master Masataka Mori.

In 1985, Payman Mazhari achieved his Shodan (first degree black belt). Since then, Payman has participated in numerous karate seminars and camps, as well as tournaments. Over the years, Payman has trained with many internationally recognized instructors and masters: Master Masataka Mori, Master Keinosuke Enoeda, Masao Kawazoe, Yoshiharu Osaka, Sugiura Motokuni, Yukichi Tabata, and Masaaki Ueki. In 1999, he graduated as a B Class JKA instructor, approved and certified by Master Masataka Mori.

In 2006, he left the JKA, remaining a member of SKC. Payman continues to both train and teach. His number one objective is to offer his years of hard training and experience to all karate enthusiasts without compromising the original concept of Shotokan karate.


Greg Davis, Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 19 years
Certified C Class Instructor

Greg Davis was introduced to Shotokan Karate in 1972 while attending West Virginia University. The dojo in which he began training was only open for one year; it was the only dojo in Morgantown, WV and while Greg’s training stopped with the dojo’s closing, his interest continued. After relocating to Aurora, Colorado, Greg resumed training for more than two additional years in the mid 1980’s with Mr. Gabriel Fajardo. And upon moving to Virgina he resumed training in the late 1980’s at the Reston Karate Club, a member of the International Shotokan Karate Federation (ISKF). Greg joined Shotokan Karate Center (SKC) in 1998 where he has attained all of his Dan certifications as a student of Mazhari Sensei. Since becoming a member of SKC, Greg has consistently participated in all camps and championships with more than 20 years of Shotokan martial arts experience. Greg achieved his C Class Instructor certification in 2012 and he continues to train and assist in teaching at SKC under the direction of Mazhari Sensei.

Greg Davis received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from West Virginia University (WVU) in 1972 and received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration at WVU in 1976. Greg has worked as a professional civil engineer for over 38 years.


Ali (Alex) Tabatabai, Sandan (3rd Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 17 Years
Certified C Class Instructor

Ali Tabatabai was first introduced to karate while in Iran in the early 1970s. He shortly thereafter traveled to Northern California to continue his university studies, and briefly continued practicing while attending university. Hi began serious and continuous training when he was introduced to Sensei Mazhari in Northern Virginia in 2000, obtaining his C class instructor certification from Sensei Mazhari in 2017.


Spiro Roiniotis, Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 16 Years
Certified C Class Instructor
Chairman SKC NoVA Advisory Board

Spiro Roiniotis began his training in Shotokan Karate with Mazhari Sensei in 2001, and has been an active member of SKC NoVA ever since. He completed the rank of Shodan in 2007 from Master Mori under Mazhari Sensei’s instruction, and in 2013 acquired the rank of Nidan. Spiro has participated in numerous camps and special classes throughout the years, and completed his Class C instructor training program in 2014.

Spiro Roiniotis received a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from the University of Virginia, and is currently Vice President of Engineering for Graham Holdings (previously The Washington Post Company), having joined the company in 2009. He currently leads product engineering for Trove, a personalized news application and platform.


Rachel Creedon, Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 8 Years
Certified C Class Instructor

Rachel Creedon started practicing Shotokan Karate with Ahmad Mazhari Sensei in September of 2005 at age 41. She received her 2nd Dan in June of 2013, with encouragement and support of Mazhari Sensei. She completed her C class instructor training in 2014.

Rachel received a Bachelor of Music from Taipei Christ’s College in 1987. She has formerly taught Chinese language and piano in Northern Virginia.


Thuong Nguyen, Nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 12 Years
Certified C Class Instructor

Thuong Nguyen was first introduced to Shotokan Karate while in high school. He practiced for 4 years at the Pekin Community High School dojo in the 80’s under Sensei Rick Brewer of the Central Illinois Shotokan Karate Association, a Great Lakes-Area JKA member under the supervision of Sensei Shojiro Sugiyama. The lead instructor was Sensei John Donahue.

After finishing college, Thuong joined Shotokan Karate Center in 2005 and has been a student of Ahmad Mazhari Sensei ever since. He received his Nidan and completed his C Class Instructor Training Program under Mazhari Sensei in 2014.

Thuong received his college degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois and University of Maryland, and is currently working in the Information Technology field. Thuong is also a certified Integral Taichi Instructor and has been teaching Integral Taichi since 2009.


Brian Robinson, Shodan (1st Degree Black Belt)
Active Experience: 8 Years
Certified C Class Instructor

Brian Robinson was first introduced to Shotokan karate in 1983 as a high school student, attending a dojo located in downtown Chicago, IL. He practiced for four years before graduating and going off to college, earning the rank of brown belt (3kyu) before having to cease his active practice. After 18 years of college, family, and active military service where he frequently moved from one location to another (and as a result being unable to commit to a consistent practice), in September 2005 he settled in Northern Virginia and immediately sought out a sensei and dojo where he could resume a rigorous practice. An internet search and dojo visit brought him in contact with Mahzari Sensei and Shotokan Karate Center, where he immediately enrolled as a student, starting from scratch as a while belt (9kyu) in order to relearn the art and earn his ranking under a traditional instructor. In 2013 and after 8 years of training, Brian earned his Shodan, and is presently enrolled in the C Class instructor training program.

Brian Robinson received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Tuskegee University in 1993, at the same time receiving an officer’s commission in the United Stated Air Force. He received a Master’s degree in Space Operations from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1996. He currently works as a space engineer at a major aerospace and defense company in Northern Virginia, and is also assigned to the Pentagon as a reserve lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force.

Phone: 240-479-4044

Location: 3149 Glen Carlyn Road, Falls Church, VA 22041

Email: dojo@skcnova.com