Our staff consists of a team of professional martial artists dedicated to quality and student service. Our instructors are passionate about teaching and dedicated to the success of each individual student. We understand the critical role our instructors play in your personal, or your child’s, development. For that reason, we allow only the most professional and highly qualified instructors to instruct. Click next to an instructor’s name to find out more about them.
Larry Yap – Senior Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Instructor
Lawrence (Larry) Yap is a retired US Army ranger with over 40 years of martial arts experience. He received his black belt in Gracie jiu-jitsu from Rorion Gracie in 2013. He also earned black belts in Hapkido from Grandmaster Song S. Choi, and in Judo/Midori Yama Budokai Japanese Jiu-jitsu from Sensei Frank Barry. He has competed in amateur boxing (AAU and PAL) and Muay Thai (under Kru Takkratoke) since age 10. His wide-ranging fight experiences include all-service military Muay Thai bouts (Nakorn Si Thammarat) and U.S.-Thai friendship competitions (Lumpini and City Hall, Saraburi, Thailand). Larry wrestled at both the high school and collegiate levels at the University of Missouri. In 1989, he began his Gracie Jiu-jitsu training under Relson Gracie and Romolo Barros in the garage in Hawaii Kai and at the University of Hawaii, eventually earning his purple belt. In 1992, he began competing in no-gi, sambo, and MMA competitions (California, Las Vegas, Florida, Hawaii, UAE, Brazil, Thailand, Korea and Japan). Larry retired from competition in 2000. Today, Larry is back in the game and committed to improving his teaching skills as an NKAGJJN instructor, certified Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy black belt instructor as a coach and instructor. Larry is a Chesapeake resident and the father of two Grassfield High School graduates.
Bill Odom – Master Instructor
Bill Odom, an 8th degree black belt, is an accomplished martial artist with over 50 years experience as a Tang Soo Do practitioner and instructor. He traces his martial arts lineage to some of the world’s most respected masters. He began martial arts training in Thailand at age ten and developed his foundational skills under the tutelage of James K. Roberts, Sr. in Springfield, Virginia. After ten years of karate training, he joined the US Army. During his 25 years of military service commanding infantry units including Army Rangers, he acquired a wide-ranging knowledge of other martial arts and honed his teaching skills. He developed a combatives program for over 14,000 soldiers serving in Korea, has taught men and women of all ages, and is a former nationally ranked competitor. He continues his martial arts education with regular training sessions at the famous Gracie University and is currently a black belt jiu-jitsu student of Rorion, Ryron, and Rener Gracie. He established the first Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Certified Training Center and is a certified Level 4 instructor. Today, he possesses the experience, knowledge, skill, mature judgment, and commitment to excellence found only in the best instructors. He is a Norfolk resident and father of four, including a graduate of Maury High School.
James Donnelly, Jr.
James Donnelly, Jr. – Soo Bahk Do Mentor/Advisor and Founder of Hampton Roads Karate
James Donnelly, 8th degree black belt, has over 50 years of training and teaching experience. He began training in 1966 as a student of Chuck Norris. He trained under Victor Martinov, 9th degree, since 1970.Master Donnelly trained at the Soo Bahk Do international headquarters in 1989, 1995, 2000, and 2005 under the direct supervision of the founder, Hwang Kee, and his son, Grandmaster H.C. Hwang. Today, he is a nationally certified Master Level instructor under the U.S. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation and one of the organization’s senior ranking members. Master Donnelly established Hampton Roads Soo Bahk Do in 1991. He partnered with Bill Odom in 2014 to include Gracie jiu-jitsu to the school’s curriculum. Master Donnelly continues to advise the karate program and train the next generation of instructors.
Keith Wildonger – Senior Soo Bahk Do Instructor
Keith Wildonger, 5th degree black belt, has over 20 years of training and teaching experience. He began training in 1992 and continues today under Master James Donnelly, 8th Degree. He is a nationally certified Master Level instructor under the U.S. Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan Federation and currently serves as the both the Region 3 elected representative to the Board of Directors and Board Chairman. He is a retired Naval Flight Officer who served 26 years on active duty and 4 years as a government contractor. He lives in Chesapeake.
Ian Suhay – Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Program Director
Erin Reilly – Administrative Assistant
Shannon Higgins – Assistant Soo Bahk Do Instructor
Mariah is a Gracie jiu-jitsu blue belt and a certified Women Empowered® instructor.