Prather Martial arts is a family-oriented dojo (school) practicing Okinawan Matsubayashi-Ryū (松林流), Shorin Ryū, karate. Our staff is dedicated to teaching our students karate in an environment where they also learn confidence, respect, self-esteem and how to approach life, and be successful. Our training methods are strict, but timely humor is blended, to help our students reach attainable and necessary goals. We want our students to achieve a sense of completeness and be mentally and physically prepared for any situation that they may encounter.
Sensei Prather, the proprietor of Prather Martial Arts, boasts over 34 years of experience in studying Okinawan Shōrin-ryū. He holds the rank of Godan (五段), denoting a 5th degree Black Belt, and has served as an instructor for 29 years. With a deep-seated passion for karate, Sensei Prather finds joy in imparting his knowledge to others. His karate journey began under the guidance of Sensei Raliegh Barnett before continuing his training under Sensei Williams for several years. During this time, he had the privilege of learning from one of the finest instructors in the art of karate. Sensei Prather's dedication to the art extends to competitive arenas, where he has participated in both local and national levels of A.A.U. sport karate.
Senpai Rik Vayo
Senpai Vayo has been a part of Prather Martial Arts since 2006. His current rank is Yondan (四段) or 4th degree Black Belt. He has an equal passion in seeking to learn and passing on those teachings to others. Having a tri-fold focus on Kata (open hand forms), Kobudō (weapon oriented forms), and Kumite (fighting/sparing), Senpai is always trying to expand his understanding of Matsubayashi Shōrin-ryū karate and it’s application. Senpai is also the Head Coach of the Prather Martial Arts competition team.
Senpai Vayo is a Certified Referee with the AAU. He has refereed at tournaments at the State, Regional, and National level. Additionally, competing in multiple local, State, and Regional tournaments has provided much needed experience to help develop his skills. He has also competed and placed in the top three at AAU National Karate Tournaments in the years 2011 through 2019. Studied under / affiliated with:
Sensei Carl Prather
Sensei Bill George
Sensei Eihachi Ota
Sensei Tricia Miracle
Sensei Miracle began her training with Prather Martial Arts in 2014. Her current rank is nidan. (2nd degree) She has also shared her journey in martial arts training with her daughter Symphony who is a Jr. instructor here at PMA. Tricia helps assist and train with the CAFE co-op program at Evangelical Community Church Cincinnati. She is also a AAU certified coach and has also competed on our competition team. She has a passion to teach and study the art of Weapons (bo and sai). She strives to encourage and instill confidence in young men and women of all ages. She can be found on and off the dojo floor teaching and assisting in the office and planning dojo events.
Sensei Johnny Pickle
Sensei Pickle embarked on his martial arts journey at the age of 10 in 1985. At that time, the only school available in his one caution light town was a Tae Kwon Do school. This school was associated with the Chung Do Kwan, one of the nine original schools in Korea. Our belt certificates were issued through the Kukkiwon in Seoul, South Korea. After years of dedication and hard work, he achieved his black belt in 1989. Sensei Pickle continued his training, earning his Nidan around 1991.
Our dojo deeply embraced the rich tradition of Kobudō, which involved mastering various weapons such as sai, bo, nunchaku, kama, and tonfa.
Throughout his early martial arts journey, he actively participated in North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) and Mississippi Karate Association (MKA) tournaments. Sensei had the privilege of being part of the demo team, where he not only honed his own abilities but also had the opportunity to inspire and entertain through demonstrations.
Beyond competitions, he found fulfillment in sharing his knowledge by contributing to self-defense seminars. Sensei earned certification from the United States Police Defensive Tactics Association and underwent extensive training in the art of using the kubotan, enabling him to empower individuals with essential self-defense techniques.
In the wake of the closure of his private dojo in 2020 due to COVID-19, his eldest son expressed a keen interest in continuing his martial arts journey. This quest led him to Prather Martial Arts, a dojo that encapsulates the same spirit of hard work, dedication, and tradition that Sensei had come to associate with premier martial arts institutions. His decision to join Prather Martial Arts has proven to be a rewarding one, and he has found great satisfaction in being a part of this exceptional family.
Sensei Michael Hayes
Sensei Hayes began his study of martial arts in the early 1980’s at the age of 19 while serving in the US Air Force. During his time in the military, he competed in numerous tournaments throughout the western United States. He progressed through the ranks and earned his black belt in Taekwondo in 1985. After completing his military service, he returned to his hometown Cincinnati and continued his study of Taekwondo under Grand Master Kyongwon Ahn. During that time, he continued competing on the tournament circuit. After several years, Michael was recruited by Master Ahn to operate and instruct at one of his dojangs. He continued teaching and studying under Master Ahn until 1995 achieving the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt (YiDan) over his 14 year study of Taekwondo.
Fast forward to 2019… Michael’s 7 year old grandson expressed an interest in martial arts. Being a strong proponent of martial arts as a means of instilling respect, discipline and confidence especially in children, it took no convincing. As luck would have it, there happened
to be an Okinawan Karate dojo very close to their home. Their initial visit enabled them to observe class and meet Sensei Prather for the first time. The experience was extremely positive, and the environment was very family oriented. As a result of such a positive impression, both Michael and grandson enrolled. After a nearly 25 year hiatus, Michael re-engaged in martial arts as a beginning white belt student. As a tremendous courtesy, based on his prior martial arts background, Sensei Prather allowed Michael the opportunity to test to the rank of Shodan at a fast-tracked pace. In 2021, after 2 years of study and rigorous training under the direction of Sempai Rik Vayo, Michael earned his black belt in Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate. In 2022 at 60 years old, Michael joined the PMA Competition Team as both a competitor and coach, and began competing again for the first time in over 25 years. Michael is extremely proud and honored to be part of the PMA family.
“Becoming a black belt is not simply a recognition that a person has met a specified set of requirements. Rather, it symbolizes a desire to strive toward a deeper understanding of the meaning and purpose of your art, a dedication to the perfection of that art, and a commitment to a way of life defined by the precepts of humility, integrity, respect, and responsibility.” - Sensei Michael Hayes