Sensei Mirko Buchwald – Chief Instructor
Sensei Mirko Buchwald, rokudan (6th Degree Black Belt), is the chief instructor of the San Francisco Zanshin Martial Arts Center. He has studied Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate for over 30 years. Born in England, Sensei Buchwald came to the United States in 1989 to compete in the international ‘Miyagi Chojun Festival’ karate tournament and placed first in men’s advanced fighting event. After the tournament, he decided to stay in the U.S. and take the unique opportunity to train with one of the greatest living karate masters, Goju Ryu world chief instructor Sensei Morio Higaonna. Since then, Sensei Buchwald has made the U.S. his home. While training directly under Higaonna Sensei, Sensei Buchwald traveled to Japan on several occasions, training at the ‘Honbu Dojo’ (world headquarters) in Okinawa, Japan. During his travels, he trained privately with Higaonna Sensei, as well as with with his direct teacher and legendary karate master Anichi Miyagi (the direct successor of Goju Ryu founder Miyagi Chojun).
In 1997, Sensei Buchwald moved to San Francisco, where he noticed a need for a traditional dojo with a solid foundation in the martial arts. “I couldn’t find a school to train at myself that was consistent in what it taught,” he recalls. “Most of them were a very commercialized. People starting out in the martial arts need a good, solid foundation. I feel that people who are investing their time and money in studying a martial art should get what they pay for.” In June 1998, Sensei Buchwald opened the Zanshin Dojo, giving people in the Bay Area a chance to learn the physical and mental aspects of martial arts in a traditional environment. “When you walk in to our school, I think it’s evident from the technical standard of our students as well as the atmosphere that this is a great place to come in San Francisco if you really want to study martial arts,” he says.
In recent years, Sensei Buchwald continues to serve as an assistant to Higaonna Sensei. He has aided Goju Ryu’s World Chief Instructor in teaching and demonstrations all over the world, including the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival, the Rengokai World Karate Championships in Georgia & Okinawa, and the Budokan in Tokyo and Okinawa Japan. Sensei was also selected as U.S. team captain for the world I.O.G.K.F karate championships in Orlando in 2001. He returned to competition in 2006 as part of the prestigious Kanazawa Cup Tournament, where he placed first in men’s black belt fighting and was awarded the title of men’s overall black belt grand champion. He was invited to teach at the 2010 Miyagi Chojun Festival in Washington and selected to fight on the 2010 IOGKF USA karate team to compete in the world championships in South Africa.
Sensei Buchwald is dedicated to helping others achieve their own goals in the martial arts. He is very passionate about teaching children how to use karate as a tool for developing the important life skills. He is also passionate about animal welfare and has been a vegetarian and vegan for over 30 years.
Jessica Allen – Instructor
Jessica Allen has trained at Zanshin Dojo since 2010, earning her black belt in Okinawa, Japan at the World Budosai in 2016 and her nidan (second degree black belt) in 2019. She enjoys Goju Ryu Karate because there’s always more to learn, making mastery a life-long pursuit. She also regularly teaches kids karate at Zanshin Dojo, encouraging children to develop focus and discipline. Outside of the dojo, Jessica is passionate about promoting diversity in the sciences. Currently, she works as an Academic Coordinator at UCSF’s Science & Health Education Partnership, an organization that supports science education in San Francisco public schools.
David Barrios – Instructor
David Barrios has trained in Goju Ryu Karate with Sensei Buchwald since 1998. He earned his sandan (third degree black belt) at the 2017 Miyagi Chojun Festival in Spokane, WA. He is passionate about Goju Ryu Karate because it always allows room for personal growth and discovery. He teaches adults at Zanshin dojo, encouraging students to always push themselves further. Outside of the dojo, David teaches high school physics in the San Francisco Unified School District, where he works to promote the learning of science through hands-on experiences and fostering an appreciation of how the universe works.
Samantha Tutone – Instructor
Samantha Tutone has trained as part of the IOGKF USA since 2003 and earned her sandan (third degree black belt) in Canada in 2018. She enjoys traveling and training and has participated three times in the World Budosai in Okinawa, Japan. Sami truly believes that hard work and dedication are the keys to success in martial arts. She teaches adults at Zanshin Dojo, helping students discover the many facets of Okinawan Goju Ryu Karate. While not at the dojo, Sami works as a graphic artist and administrator of Faculty Development at the Academy of Art University. She is also an avid painter.