There are several teaching titles in Kempo Karate, of which, our ranking system has retained three: Sensei, Professor, and Grandmaster. These titles then get broken down into “junior” and “senior” levels (i.e. at 5th Dan an Instructor enters Professorship titles but his/her formal title is “Associate Professor”). A teaching title is something that is earned through extensive testing on Kempo theory and principles. This certifies that our teachers have extensive knowledge of not just Kempo, but philosophy, history, combat application, human biomechanics and psychological fight tactics.
At the top of our school’s hierarchy is Grandmaster Shawn Gallagher and Professor John Hatfield. While Professor Hatfield is the current school owner, our curriculum and lineage runs through Grandmaster Gallagher. Some school owners are viewed as honorable, visiting Instructors at most schools, but not at BMA. Professor Hatfield teaches ninety-percent of our classes, runs the front office, and answers all incoming phone calls personally.
Grandmaster Shawn Gallagher
Grandmaster Gallagher began his Martial Arts journey in the early 70's at the "United Studios of Self Defense" in Brockton, Massachusetts. At the age of sixteen he showed much promise and soon became one of his Instructors, Master Mangone's, top students. Shortly after earning his Black Belt Grandmaster Gallagher fought his way onto Grandmaster Fred Villari's full contact karate team and was recognized as one of the top competitors.
After making a comeback at the age of 30, Grandmaster Gallagher was soon ranked as the top fighter in his age and weight class by the PKA (Professional Karate Association). He continued to fight in sport karate until the age of forty.
Grandmaster Gallagher opened Bridgewater Martial Arts in 1992 in an old mechanics bay where his legacy of traditional Martial Arts tempered with logic and real-life applications began. With well over 40 years in the Martial Arts, Grandmaster Gallagher has touched the lives of hundreds of children and young adults in the Bridgewater area, many of which still teach here at BMA. Grandmaster Gallagher is recognized as a 10th Dan by some of the oldest and most respected masters in the world.
Professor John Hatfield
Professor Hatfield bowed into his first dojo at in 1973. He was a student of Sensei Fredericks for a short time before transferring to the "United Studios of Self Defense" in Brockton, Massachusetts. It was at United Studios Dojo that Professor Hatfield met Grandmaster Gallagher and fostered a life-long, student-teacher, relationship. This deep bond led to Grandmaster Gallagher passing ownership of Bridgewater Martial Arts to Professor Hatfield in 2006.
Professor Hatfield has been a student of martial arts for over 30 years. He competed in USA boxing for five years winning a North East boxing title, while also competing as an amateur kickboxer. He is recognized as 8th degree black belt in Kempo Karate and remains a student of Grandmaster Gallagher.
Sensei is the first official teaching title a Black Belt can earn. This opportunity comes at 3rd Dan, and to be earned, it must be tested for separately where theory and principles are drilled until senior leadership is satisfied they are ready to teach. Prospective Sensei?s must also spend time teaching as an apprentice Instructor under qualified, senior Black Belts.
Mrs. Lisa Fontaine
Bio Coming Soon...
Sensei Tristan Bowman attended his first class at Bridgewater Martial Arts in the summer of 1997, and although his parents would later tell him they thought he would quit after three months, he earned his black belt in 2001 and began helping teach classes as an assistant instructor . Sensei Bowman tested for, and earned his Sensei title in 2006, and after many years of continued study and training under GM Gallagher and Prof. Hatfield, was awarded a 4th degree black belt in April of 2014. Sensei Bowman has competed in many different tournaments in sparring, empty hand forms, and weapons divisions during his martial arts career. Sensei Bowman considers being able to teach a new generation of students, and attending seminars and classes in various styles and methods the biggest rewards of his training. A Sergeant in the US Army and an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat veteran, Sensei Bowman credits all his success in the military to his martial arts background. It was in Kempo Karate, that he learned the principles of discipline, self- respect, effort and hard work. Sensei Bowman is currently a Corrections Officer for the Mass. Dept. of Corrections.
Mr. Steven McDonough
Sensei Steven McDonough has been a student at Bridgewater Martial Arts since the age of 5. He earned his black belt in 2011, and his Sensei title and 3rd degree black belt in January of 2018. Diagnosed with high functioning Autism as a child, he has put in many extra hours to earn his black belt and years later, his Sensei title. He credits Grandmaster Gallagher, Professor Hatfield and Bridgewater Martial Arts for teaching him respect for others, hand eye coordination, confidence and skills that have helped him succeed. Sensei McDonough enjoys working with children in the Autism spectrum and assists in the KAI program. He was a member of the National Honor Society and has just finished his senior year at Bridgewater Raynham Regional High School.
Our Assistant Instructors are an integral part of the daily operations of the Dojo. While they do not hold any teaching titles yet, they actively work under our Senior Instructors to gain the knowledge they need to teach classes on their own.
Mr. Justin Hackenson, 2nd Dan
Ms. Christine Steele, 2nd Dan