skip to Main Content
Katherine and Joyce

Sensei Katherine Engstrom and Director, Joyce Brekke

In 2007 we received the role of carrying on this tradition. Our mission is to help as many children as possible in the LD community. We see our vision occur in every class; the students experience success! Our student population has increased to include any learning style. We customize and adapt our teaching for you.

The karate style we teach is Shorei-Ryu. It means ‘encouragement school’. This style is over 500 years old. Our classes are small so our instructors give you extra attention and adapt to your learning style.

Teaching Methods

Students learn in an atmosphere of methodical, structured, repetition with positive reinforcement and rewards. They experience success in every class, which builds confidence and self esteem. The values used in the school prepare them for other life experiences; respect, discipline, honor and humility.
People who have different learning abilities benefit from consistent terms and repetition. They also benefit from learning step by step in a methodical disciplined manner. It is highly valuable for them to experience the personal success of learning a kata (a prepared combination of moves). These principles work for everyone!

The style we teach is Shorei-Ryu, which is extra beneficial to people who have learning challenges. The style being, “hard vs. soft” stimulates the muscle memory. The movements include crossing the midline, coordination and stretching, all beneficial to the body and mind. We teach to all styles of learning, visual, audible, and tactile by using all three styles in conjunction. So students and parents say it has really improved their ability to focus, their self-esteem and self-confidence.

Classes are 45 minutes long. You may attend 1, 2, or 3 times per week. Private lessons are offered. Contact us for a free trial, 1:1 with Sensei Katherine so she can understand how you learn and you can learn some moves!


Katherine Engstrom

Katherine Engstrom, Sensei

Katherine Engstrom struggled with a reading disability and ADHD as a child, so she empathizes with the child who has a learning disability or is bullied. She understands how important it is to adapt teaching to meet individual learning styles.

At 13 years old, she started karate to be able to kick as high as her friend. She quickly found her memory improving and her self confidence boosting. Seven years later as a 2nd degree black belt she took on the role as Sensei at JK Martial Arts. “I am committed to giving back to the community who supported me with special education.” She will customize her teaching so the student succeeds.

Her reputation has grown in the community of Learning Disabilities. Sensei Katherine ‘gets it’ said Veronica Arens, President of Family Achievement Center. Sensei understands how to work with children with ADD, ASD and other diagnosis. Occupational Therapists look to her as ‘one of them’ suggesting that she teaches therapeutic karate because she adapts to help every one succeed. And she understands what it is like to be a parent of a child with ADD, anxiety, ASD, because she is a mom.

Parents of young adults who have anxiety said, “She’s done more for my son than his psychologist.”  A special education instructor said, “You are a miracle worker!” when a child with LD learned the alphabet using karate moves.

In 2018, she awarded the responsibility of head Sensei to Peregrine Stephens.  Katherine took a leave of absence to focus on her four children and husband.   In 2020 she returned as a part-time instructor.

Joyce Brekke

Joyce Brekke, Director

Joyce Brekke, Katherine’s mother watched and supported Katherine in her martial arts training and competition. “I am thankful that Katherine was so successful with karate during her challenging middle school years! It meant a lot, since Katherine was shy and insecure. It increased her self esteem, her ability to focus and memory.”

Joyce loves exercise, and physical fitness, so when Katherine suggested she learn karate, she jumped into it. Immediately as a white belt, she entered the competition circuit winning first place every time as an under belt. In 2007 she received her Black Belt and went on to become the NASKA National Champion in open hand forms and 2nd place in the NASKA National Weapons category. In local tournaments she won Grand Champion in forms.

Her business experience has prepared her to direct the school. Her 30+ years of experience include – Sales Management, Healthcare Sales, Respiratory Therapist and Respiratory Department Assistant Director, teaching Respiratory Care and Sales to adults and teaching Baton and Swimming to children. Her experience as a mother and now grandmother of a child with learning challenges drives her to passionately teach karate to others because of the many physical, mental and social benefits!

Now as a senior citizen, exercise is medicine! It helps keep a body young, flexible, strong, heart healthy, and fight against chronic disease with every punch and kick!

Peregrine Stephens (Peri), Sensei

As a student of Shorei Ryu at JK Martial Arts, Peri has first-hand experience with the specialized support the dojo offers. Peri has been teaching karate alongside Joyce and Katherine since 2014.   After earning her black belt in 2015, Peri has progressively moved from assistant instructor into the role of head Sensei.  She is responsible for leading classes, awarding belts and teaching private lessons. She is dedicated to supporting the students and helping them succeed both within the karate dojo and in their personal lives.  “I want to find things that work for the student”.

Apart from learning alongside and teaching students with learning challenges, Peri grew up with siblings and family members who collectively deal with ASD, ADD, and anxiety. She passionately and persistently seeks methods to create successful learning opportunities for each student.  She adapts to the individual needs and processing speeds of others.

Peri continued her quest to understand the learning process by taking classes at the University of Minnesota.   Her leadership class revealed her strengths are in relationship building with an emphasis on developing others and seeking out new ways to solve a problem.   And if you need a Bag Pipe player, she would love to provide entertainment!

Tobie Miller, Assistant Instructor

Tobie started as an online student at JK Martial Arts during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. With the limitations from the quarantine, she went from two classes a week to six and progressed to through the belts quickly. She is an avid athlete and loves the impact of karate on her mental and physical health.

Her athletic experience includes teaching and coaching.  Tobie is a National Champion in Ultimate Frisbee, holds a State Championship as a girl’s high school coach, countless spirit-of-the-game awards, and teaches ceramics to all ages and levels. She has a background in anthropology (BA), museum studies (MMSt), and Jewish studies (MA certificate). She also works as a curatorial assistant and artist liaison at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, in the department of Arts of Africa and the Americas.

Tobie is committed to being a student for life which is why JK Martial Arts has become a most welcoming place to call home. Learning from Sensei Peri, Sensei Katherine and Ms. Joyce about leading with love, aligns beautifully with how Tobie was raised and how she walks her path. She appreciates the opportunities to build relationships with everyone at the dojo and loves watching a student light up when they make that mind-body-spirit connection. Tobie knows the challenges and struggles of coping with major depressive disorder, PTSD, anxiety, and a physical brain condition that has made learning and living a challenge at times. Karate has brought new life, energy, acceptance, and commitment to her every day.

When not in the dojo, studio, or museum, you can find her hanging out in the gardens smelling the roses, making new multi-legged friends, playing with her dogs, or building something with her partner.

Back To Top