Akayama Ryu Instructors
Founder - Alex Marshall
Sensei Alex Marshall held advanced rank in Kodokan Judo, Tomiki Aikido, Shinin-Ryu Jujutsu, and Jikishinkage-Ryu Aikijujutsu before creating Akayama Ryu Jujutsu. Beginning his study of the Japanese grappling arts shortly after World War I, Sensei Marshall continued to seek out and train with some of the finest instructors in the world. Time after time, black belts were awarded to him, only to be left in his bag when he entered a new dojo seeking further training. Sensei Marshall's primary instructors were Okabayashi Sensei, Shishido Sensei, and Toshiaki Takikawa, all very talented judo and jujutsu Sensei. Shihan Takikawa introduced Sensei Marshall to the Aikijujutsu system of Jikishinkage-Ryu developed by his family in 1600 and handed down from generation to generation.
Along with teaching Judo at various YMCAs, colleges and community centers, Sensei Marshall taught self-defense to police cadets for almost 20 years as the Defensive Tactics instructor for the Birmingham Police Academy. He also taught a handful of senior students jujutsu at his home on weekends. This core group of students and the intense training sessions provided the foundation for Sensei Marshall's development of Akayama Ryu. Until shortly before his death in 1994 at the age of 87, he was the first on the tatami and the last to bow out. It was his strength of character and his exceptional ability that forged the system we teach today.
Mark Barlow - Hachidan - Florida
Mark Barlow is the Senior Instructor of Akayama Ryu Jujutsu. He started training in judo and jujutsu under Akayama Ryu founder Alex Marshall in the mid-70s. He has also studied jujutsu under Toshi Takikawa, Aikido with Karl Geis and Tetsuro Nariyama, and Muay Thai with Riki and Terry Chamkow. He has taught Defensive Tactics since the 1990s, most recently teaching a week-long session on bladed weapons defense at the Alabama SRT Conference. In addition to Akayama Ryu Jujutsu, Mark holds black belt ranks in Tomiki Aikido, Seki Ryu Jujutsu, Jikishinkage Ryu Jujutsu, and Judo.
Richard Worthington - Hachidan - Alabama
Richard Worthington has been training in martial arts for over 40 years, including many as a direct student of Alex Marshall, the founder of Akayama Ryu. He has earned the rank of Hachidan in Akayama Ryu Jujutsu, Sandan in Judo, and Nidan in Aikido.
Ed Byers - Shichidan - Indiana
Ed Byers has over thirty years of federal law enforcement and counter-terrorism service, including the National Park Service, U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security, where he also served as a Defensive Tactics instructor. He holds a 6th Dan in Akayama Ryu Jujutsu, 4th Dan in Judo, and 3rd Dan in Jujutsu (USJA). He has been certified as an instructor, coach, kata instructor, and referee. Ed also founded the LadySafe Society, promoting free self-defense seminars for women.
Mark Burton - Shichidan - Louisiana
A former Marine Corps Judo Team member, Mark Burton received his initial martial arts training while stationed in Japan in 1973, before training in Akayama Ryu Jujutsu. He has trained local, state, and federal law enforcement officers and is a retired federal law enforcement Senior Special Agent. Burton Sensei also received the ranks of Shodan in Judo and Ikkyu in Tomiki Aikido.
Chris Dewey - Shichidan - Wyoming
Chris Dewey started training in martial arts in 1969, and has gone on to earn a seventh degree black belt in Jujutsu, sixth degree in Judo, fourth degree in Taekwondo, and third degree in Hapkido. Chris has been a national-level competitor, coach, and referee in Judo. He owned his own martial arts school from 1996 until he sold it in 2012. Chris now makes his residence in Laramie, WY.
Doug Bedsaul - Godan - Mississippi
Doug Bedsaul started training under Chris Dewey in 1997. He actively competes in Judo (3rd Dan) and Taekwondo (4th Dan), and is a nationally certified coach. He has taught martial arts for local schools, non-profit organizations, and businesses. Doug currently operates Downtown Martial Arts Acadeny in Starkville, where he advocates practical self-defense training for all.
Nathan Williams - Nidan - Louisiana
Nathan Williams began his martial arts training at age 14 in 1992 under the instruction of Mark Barlow Sensei. He received his shodan in 1996. In July of 2005, he was promoted to nidan. Upon returning to Birmingham, AL, Nathan studied under Richard Worthington Sensei for several years before moving with his family to Louisiana. For four years, he studied and earned a first-degree black belt in American Kenpo. His first love has always been Akayama Ryu, and now he currently owns and runs Williams Martial Arts Club in Covington, LA, exclusively teaching the Akayama system.