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About Mr. Hanford


About Mr. Hanford

 Mr. Hanford is a well-rounded martial artist holding a 5th degree black belt in Taekwondo, 4th degree black belt in Kobudo, and a black belt in Aiki Jutsu. With this knowledge, he has the ability to inflict a great amount of pain, or to use a softer style to use joint locks or chokes to control a situation. Mr. Hanford has ranked in the top 5 competitors in the state in his division for many years of tournament competition. He continues to train while teaching all Lions Karate classes in both North Webster during the week and Fort Wayne on the weekends.


 Mr. Hanford began martial arts when he was 7 years old through an introductory class in the summer of 1991. Through hard work and many different styles of learning, he was able to master his techniques. He devotes 99% to his instructor, Mr. Ken Gillenwater, but he has also attended seminars, camps, and has received many other instructors’ advice on his forms and other techniques. He placed in the Indiana PKC (Professional Karate Commission) top five in his age group from 1992-2001. He attended many tournaments and has the believe that in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Since he has become an adult, he has won many Grand Champion divisions, which is the competition of all the 1st place black belt winners from a tournaments (the best of the best). In 2002 he went to Purdue University. While he was there, he helped to teach the Taekwondo club. They had a 2nd degree instructor, and they enjoyed learning the different styles of Kobudo, Aiki Jutsu, and the different Taekwondo techniques that Mr. Hanford had to offer. Through the years, Mr. Hanford has been able to give back to the art by teaching classes in Fort Wayne, and by taking over the North Webster karate school from Mr. Gillenwater once he became ill. Mr. Hanford’s passion for martial arts is something displayed in every class.

 1st degree – November 1994

2nd degree – February 1998

3rd degree – September 2001

4th degree – December 2005

5th degree – March 2011 


When Mr. Hanford received his green belt in 1991, he was seven years old and was able to begin learning weapons. He chose the nunchucks. As a blue belt he also learned the bo staff. He adapted to the bo staff and learned to love this weapon. He then learned more bo staff katas and became very smooth with this weapon. Once he received his 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo he began to focus more on his weaponry. He already had his Taekwondo techniques improved and he wanted a new challenge. While he was putting his time in before his 3rd degree black belt test in Taekwondo. Mr. Gillenwater suggested that he work on his nunchucks and then go from there. Mr. Hanford tried to work on more than one weapon at a time. Over the next year he was able to build his skills in the nunchucks, sword, sai, and tonfa. He tested and became a 1stkyu with those weapons and was able to test for his black belt. He received his 1st degree black belt in Kobudo and then became thirsty to learn more. He learned all the forms for the weapons Mr. Gillenwater knew. He continued to develop his Kobudo skills and he received his 2nd degree black belt after learning even more weapons. He then adapted his current knowledge of weapons kata with other weapons that were unique and not as commonly practiced at the karate school. His continued growth with the weapons and improvement allowed him to test for his 3rd degree black belt. He enjoys sharing his weapons knowledge with the Lions Karate students and hope they can learn and adapt this knowledge with their own new weapons. 

1st degree – October 2003

2nd degree – May 2007

3rd degree – April 2011

4th degree - April 2015 

Aiki Jutsu 

Once Mr. Hanford earned his 1st degree Jr. Black Belt in Taekwondo he wanted to combine his skills with the softer style of Aiki Jutsu. Since he was only 11 years old, Mr. Gillenwater allowed Steve to join if his father would also join to help with supervision. Mr. Hanford had to make a difficult decision when he decided to take these classes. Classes were on Tuesdays, but his Boy Scouts troop also met on Tuesdays. Mr. Hanford chose to continue with Aiki Jutsu. He and his father worked their way up the ranks. Since this is a style typically for adults only, Mr. Hanford had some difficulty learning the techniques and begin able to apply them to the other adults in class. Because of his smaller size, he learned some key “tricks” to techniques that helped him to apply more force and pain to the attacker with less effort. His father had a hard time rolling and was not flexible, but in Aiki Jutsu a person uses the attacker’s momentum against them and they do not need to be flexible or able to roll in order for the techniques to work effectively. Mr. Hanford juggled his high school sports around class schedules and both Hanfords were able to reach the level of black belt. With the combination of the softer style of Aiki Jutsu with the harder style of Taekwondo, Mr. Hanford is a well rounded martial artist able to apply joint locks, chokes, and submissions to control a situation, or he can include striking when needed to finish a conflict or dispute. 

1st degree – June 2000

2nd degree – Recognized in 2015

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