Zach Stevens has been practicing martial arts since his mom, a Karate black belt, first brought him to the dojo at age five. Growing up on a farm in southern Vermont, Zach studied and earned black belts in Goju-Ryu Karate and Nihon Jujutsu and competed in folkstyle wrestling. With his passion for martial arts ignited, Zach went on to train Judo with Sensei Doug Tono at the Tohkon Judo Academy in Chicago, and Sanda Kickboxing, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung under Sifu Brent Hamby at EBM Kung Fu in California. He studied Pekiti Tirsia and Dogbrothers Kali with Guro Nicolás Wachsmann in Argentina, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu with Professor Edgelson Lua in London. He traveled to Thailand to study Chi Kung and Tao Yin with Grandmaster Mantak Chia, and is a certified instructor in his Healing Tao System.
Zach holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago and a M.A. in Economic Anthropology from the London School of Economics. He has over a decade of experience working with children and adults with special needs and developmental disabilities, both as a behavioral interventionist doing ABA interventions in homes and classrooms, and as teacher at a school for high risk special needs students.
Lauren Ballard grew up in the dojo watching her father train and compete as an American Kickboxer. Later he brought her into the temples of the Thai and Laos communities of northern California, where she learned Theravada meditation. After meeting Zach, the two of them traveled together to Thailand, where she studied Chi Kung and Tao Yin under Grandmaster Mantak Chia, becoming a certified instructor in the Healing Tao System.
A dedicated and passionate educator, Lauren holds a B.A. in English from the University of California at Berkeley and a M.St. in English and American Studies from Oxford University, where she did her graduate research on educational relationships between early European colonizers and Native American children. Together, Zach and Lauren opened ONTA Studio as a place for families to train and learn.
Izzy Grae is a martial artist who has practiced Western Boxing, Tang Soo Do, Chinese Kenpo, and the Nigerian boxing and wrestling arts of Dambe and Laamb. But his greatest education in self defense has come from being a bouncer and security guard in the greater Burlington area for almost 4 years. While on the Job, Izzy found that a lot of what he had learned was not always applicable or safe to use on the street.
Sensei Izzy believes that a true martial artist is just as strong mentally as physically, and that respect and responsibility are the true mark of a martial artist.
Izzy is also an accomplished local actor and artist, appearing in regional musical theater productions and performing stand up comedy.