instructors instructors instructors
As head instructor, Mr. Lawrence Robinson brings over 42 years of training, competing, and instructing for an experience that is unique. His passion for development, growth, and improvement are unmatched.
Lawrence’s unique approach to teaching the art of self-defense along with his true desire to know and understand his students allows him to work well beyond any age group, and any physical, emotional, or mental deficiency. Having worked with students diagnosed with: cerebral palsy, turrets, autism, ADD & ADHD, Learning Disabled, and a variety of other concerns, Lawrence embraces the child’s unique qualities and builds from an aspect of strengths rather than a focus on limitations. He works with the students to adapt to their abilities and then to expand their skill sets so that they can reach established goals. Lawrence honed his skills in Phoenix for more than 30 years starting his first studio at 19th Avenue and Union Hills (Dragon’s Lair). He then applied his considerable knowledge to an even greater variety of children as the Kenpo head instructor at the Deer Valley Community Center from 1991-2011, where he worked with more than 150 kids per session.
Throughout his career, Lawrence has always ensured that there is a holistic approach to Martial Arts Training, one that addresses the need for self-defense abilities and allows for competitive/performance aspects while at the same time, keeping in the forefront the importance of each member growing and reaching goals both on and off the mat. Lawrence continually reminds students of the importance of being a Martial Artist and of exhibiting the qualities of honor, respect, discipline, and kindness at all times, not just when wearing a uniform and belt.
Lawrence prides himself on coaching; he has coached more than 12 AZ State Champion title holders (7 of which were children) and 5 IKC First Place finishers (3 of which were children). He also coached the winning Arizona’s Women’s Colored Belt Team at the IKC 2 years in a row. In recent years, he has proudly coached several top Mixed Martial Artists that have captured 3 national titles.
For himself, Lawrence won the New Mexico Jr. Lightweight State Full Contact title. He was a featured undercard fight on ESPN. He earned Seven Arizona State Championships, Five Grand Champion titles and was the ARA Top-Rated Black Belt Competitor twice. He finished 3rd place (twice) and 2nd place at the prestigious International Karate Championships (IKC).
In 2015, “Attitude First” Training Center was moved to the current location now known as the Attitude First Martial Arts Academy. With the designation of Academy, Lawrence and the staff are dedicated to providing top self-defense instruction through quality mentoring, helping students grow and improve as human beings as they reach their goals as a Martial Artist. He is responsible for training and assessing all of the other instructors.
Joel is a 23-year veteran of the Martial Arts and a 32-year veteran of Fortune 500 businesses. He is honored and humbled by the opportunity to instruct at Attitude First Martial Arts Academy. He is currently the CEO of ExpandingStar, Inc., a company he founded to help companies and individuals reach their own potential! He leverages his unique combination of skills on and off the mat to be a catalyst for clients and students to succeed. Joel is the author of multiple books: Miss You: an inspirational book about his mother’s passing from breast cancer; Live The Risk: Escape your excuses and enjoy life!, a motivational book to help the reader design the life of their dreams; and Bulls**t Brilliance, a sarcastic how-to make excuses book – that will leave NEVER wanting to make another excuse again. Joel is blessed with the 33-year partnership of his patient and wonderful bride, Jackie, and their two beautiful daughters, Jaime and Sarah. His purpose in life is to inspire everyone to achieve their goals and dreams!
BJJ Black Belt / 3rd Degree Kenpo Black Belt
Yoga / BJJ Instructor
Josh was first introduced to the martial arts during grade school by his dad, a Dan Zan Ryu Ju Jitsu Black Belt. He dabbled in wrestling and Japanese Ju Jitsu until high school, when he began seriously practicing karate. During the next 20 years he competed throughout the West Coast, placing first at major events such as the Tiger Balm Internationals (Vancouver, BC) and the Long Beach IKCs. After moving to Phoenix in 2005, a fellow karate student introduced him to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and he was hooked. Always interested in competition, he began entering BJJ tournaments and even tested himself in the MMA arena, earning a 3-0 record – each win by submission (Duel in the Desert and Rage in the Cage). Josh is a three-time IBJJF No Gi Worlds medalist, is a nine-time North American Grappling Association (NAGA) champion, and has won several Arizona events, including the State Championships and the Grand Canyon Open. Josh is also an avid practitioner of Hatha Yoga, incorporating functional flexibility and natural strength into his jiu jitsu. He is a Nashville MMA affiliate, a member of the Team Undisputed, and a black belt under David G. Reilly (first degree) and Shawn Hammonds (third degree). His training motto is simple: HAVE FUN AND TRAIN HARD.
Mr. Lovejoy brings over 32 years of training, competing, and teaching for an experience that is unique. His passion for development, growth, and improvement are unmatched. He is supported by his beautiful bride, three daughters, and one son.
Mr. Lovejoy has the following coaching credentials:
2nd Dan Tae-kwon-do Black Belt and 2nd Degree Kenpo Black Belt
John and family have been active Attitude First members since 2003. John founded Active Self Protection in 2011 to teach people in all walks of life to develop the attitude, skills, and plan to defend themselves and their families from harm. John revolutionized the use of Narrated Defensive Encounters now used by multiple Law Enforcement Agencies, Academies and hundreds of firearms and combatives trainers around the world. John specializes in empty-handed skills for firearms carriers and firearms skills for martial artists. He is a Rangemaster Certified Pistol Instructor, Sig Sauer Academy Semi-Auto Pistol Instructor graduate and patch holder with perfect qualification score, NRA Certified Pistol Instructor in Home Firearm Safety, Basic Pistol, Personal Protection in the Home, Defensive Pistol, Personal Protection Outside the Home, Refuse to Be A Victim, State of Arizona certified Armed Guard instructor, Law of Self Defense verified instructor graduate, NRA Range Safety Officer certified, and Certified Civilian TASER Trainer. We are also proud to say that John is a veteran of the United States Navy.
Sandor is a perfect fit to the AFMAA family; he leverages his educational background in Social Work and Leadership for the good of our youth and adult programs. He has had 20 years of law enforcement experience, as well as being a certified Law Enforcement firearms and Defense Tactics instructor. He continues to help us innovate and learn. We are also proud to say that Sandor is a veteran of the United States Navy.