Sensei Michael Herway is Urban Kempo's founder and head instructor. Raised as an athlete he dove, swam, played baseball and tennis, but primarily came to focus on football and basketball. After completing his MA in American History he discovered the martial arts almost by accident, "I was gaining weight, was unhappy in my job and really needed a change in my life. Without the motivation systems offered by athletics, it was challenging to sustain an effective exercise regimen. One lucky day crossed paths with a woman who handed me a card that said 'Kempo' on it, and I figured 'Why not?' I was drawn to the sweat, the challenge, and the physical movements that in many ways drew upon a residual muscle memory from the sports I had played most of my life and in college, particularly football and basketball. I felt at home. I was elated. And I began teaching shortly thereafter, discovering a calling that I pursued all the way to the martial arts epicenter, which I'm now thrilled to bring to Clarendon."
Grandmaster Taylor is a 10th degree black belt and head of the Board of Masters at Z-Ultimate Self Defense Studios. He first met Sensei Mike in China in 2008 and awarded him his black belt in 2009. He has served as his exclusive instructor and mentor since 2013. GMT travels from California quarterly to interact with and train the Urban Kempo students, and oversees the promotion of every Urban Kempo brown and black belt. In addition, students of Urban Kempo are invited to train at Z-Ultimate dojos across the country. So whether in Virginia, California, Colorado, Washington, Arizona, Minnesota or Utah, we are able to continue our practice in a familiar environment.
Urban Kempo is the only Kempo school in the DC area that enjoys a direct lineage through a Grandmaster.
Raised overseas in Nepal and Indonesia, Soraya first moved to the sates at age 13 and immediately discovered Urban Kempo. At age 14 she became an apprentice of Sensei Mike's, and today she knows her way around the dojo like home. Soraya is somewhat of a dojo prodigy, meaning that she is able to cater to the needs of the dojo without much effort. From teaching four-year-olds, to executing advanced black belt forms precisely, to sparring with our most advanced and skilled black belt adults, Soraya finds comfort in caretaking to the many facets of the dojo. And people are always shocked to learn that she is only a teenager. Indeed, she is a master in the making.
Soraya received her black belt from Grandmaster Paul Taylor in September of 2016 and teaches classes five days a week at the dojo. A senior at Washington Lee High School, she enjoys hanging out at home and watching TV in her free time.