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Sensei Vonie De La Garza-Perna 2nd Dan Arizona Branch Chief


               Sensei Vonia De La Garza-Perna, Nidan and Branch Chief of Arizona is a native of Arizona, loving wife to Michael Perna for 15 years and proud mother of Gabriel and Sopha.  Sensei De La Garza-Perna is devoted to her family, studies and a true martial artist.
              My love for martial arts started when I was 9 years old.  I started studying Tae Kwon Do at the Salvation Army in South Phoenix where I grew up.  I practiced Tae Kwon Do from age 9 to age 13 with Sahbumnim Bill Pride.  I fought in a local Tae Kwon Do tournament as a yellow belt and took 2nd place in my division.  I took my test and was promoted to orange belt. 
              While in Junior High, I decided to take a break from going to karate class,  although I often practiced on my own.  Throughout my high school years I worked part time, and was unable to practice.  I joined the Air Force and was stationed at Davis- Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, AZ.  During my New Airman’s briefing I met Sensei Clymer and he spoke briefly about his Karate class which quickly peaked my interest.  I was very determined to learn a new discipline and immediately joined.  I was treated like not only a valued student, but a family member by Sensei Clymer. 
                 I practiced hard and due to my dedication and commitment I excelled at a rapid pace skipping my blue belt obtaining my yellow belt within a six months period a tasks that would have taken at least a year.    I continued to train hard and was asked to enter an all women’s full contact  tournament held in New York City, to fight in the middle class division, but after weighing in I was placed in a higher weight class.  I was determine to fight in the weight division I signed up for and decided to challenge myself by losing the weight by spending most of the night working out and running up and down 13 flights stairs.  At the time of the weigh in I was eligible to fight in the middle weigh division.
                 I was told I displayed the heart of a lioness and what a true martial artist was by fighting as yellow belt against two seasoned black belts and doing exceptionally well  Based upon her performance I was promoted to Green Belt by Shihan Joseph Hamamoto.
Kancho Clymer contacted me to become an instructor in his new system and I took up the challenge.  I was promoted to Nidan and made the Branch Chief of Arizona.  I am looking forward to teaching my children and many other student the discipline and purpose that has been handed to me by Kancho Clymer.



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