Northern Crane Martial Arts Association - Chief Instructor - Sensei Phil Perez - (b. 1954)

Small Circle & Kodenkan Danzanryu Jujitsu - Professor - Wally Jay - (1917-2011)

Kodenkan Danzanryu Jujitsu & Okazaki Seifukujitsu - Daihanshi - Sig Kufferath - (1911-1999)

Modern Arnis - Professor/Guro - Remy Presas - (1936-2001)

Matsumura Karatedo & Kobudo - Hanshi Fusei Kise - (b. 1935)

Matsumura Karatejutsu & Hakutsuru - Kioshi - Chuck Chandler - (1955-2009)

Zhang Lu-Ping

Tai Chi Chuan - Sifu - Lu Ping Zhang - (1943-1998)

Tai Chi Magazine - Sword Silk Reeling 

Northern Crane Martial Arts Association - Senior Instructor - Sensei David McKnight - (b. 1966)

Small Cohort of Legio III Cyrennaica rennactors at the Kennebunk May Day Festival 2013. Sensei Perez at left (holding shield).

Sensei Perez - 12th Century Templar Knight.

A Short History Of The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association

In 1986 Sensei Fusei Kise's organization, known at that time both as the Ken Shin Kan Karate and Kobudo Federation and also as the A.O.S.K.K.F. or the All Okinawa Karate & Kobudo Federation asked Sensei Perez to establish the Kittery Kenshin Kan Karate Dojo under the auspices of the Kittery Parks & Recreation Department at that town's Community Center in Kittery, Maine. Sensei Perez taught there until 1990 and then passed it on to his assistant instructor or Sempei, Bob Modee after his resignation from the AOSKKF due to a serious dispute with Kise Sensei's U. S. East Coast Director, Greg Lazarus.***

Soon after his resignation in 1990, Sensei Perez established the Old Falls Martial Arts Association in Sanford at the Family Skate Center. In 1992 Fusei Kise personally asked Sensei Perez to return to his organization and he did so in spite of his dispute with Greg Lazarus. In 1993 he moved his dojo to the Fitness Forum Health Club with a branch dojo located at the Ogunquit Dunaway Center under the auspices of the Ogunquit Police Department and the Ogunquit Parks and Recreation Department. 

In 1996 Sensei Perez consolidated all his teaching activities to Arundel by establishing the Northern Crane Martial & Natural Healing Arts Center. This consolidation took place so that Sensei Perez could practice his Shiatsu and massage therapy as well as teach his martial arts classes at the same facility for the first time. In 2000, Sensei Perez again resigned from Sensei Kise's organization after a second serious disagreement with Greg Lazarus.*** 

Sensei Perez closed down the Northern Crane Martial & Natural Healing Arts Center in 2008. He now teaches at a private location. The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association as it is now known is only interested in the quality of its curriculum, not in the quantity of its students. Therefore there was no reason to continue to keep a retail level facility. In order to keep such a facility, a martial arts school must cater to the teaching of younger and younger students. The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association made the decision not to continue to do so. More information regarding this can be found in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS tab.

The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association came to the unavoidable conclusion that authentic, traditional, non-sport, battlefield level martial arts training is no longer commercially viable, at least not at the present time. We will continue to teach these arts but until such time as there is a renaissance in such type of training we will keep teaching it the way we are now, which coincidentally is the way it used to be taught before the mass marketing and sport aspects were introduced - in a low key manner and in a private space.

The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association has had the honor of training many great individuals since we started teaching in 1986. Many of whom have successfully pursued careers in Education, Medicine, Law Enforcement, Legal, U.S. Military, High-Tech, Finance, Banking, Insurance, Investment and Business Entrepreneurship after extensively training with us. Many of them have reached out over the years to let us know that the training that they received at Northern Crane was very instrumental in acquiring the discipline and professional drive that it took to accomplish their achievements in these professions and fields. Several former students have informed us that they are alive today because of the skills they learned at Northern Crane.

Sensei Phil Perez - Renshi, Rokudan - 6th Degree Black Belt*: Director and Chief Instructor

Formal Martial Arts Experience:
Sensei Perez started his martial arts training in 1966 with Sensei Seichiro 'Eddie' Tanaka, a Japanese immigrant who settled in the Bronx and operated a small Shotokan Karate dojo in the Tremont Avenue area of the Bronx. At that time no one under the age of 18 was admitted into his dojo. This was very typical in that era. Sensei Perez, 12 years old at that time would travel to his dojo on a weekly basis and attempt to be accepted as a student. He finally accepted him as a student after 6 months of these impromptu weekly visits. Training in Karate during that time period was very physically demanding. There were no safety equipment available and sparring was brutal. Sensei Perez received a Shodan Certificate (1st degree black belt) from Tanaka Sensei before graduating from High School at the age of 16. 

Sensei Perez continued his formal martial arts education while at Stony Brook University studying Nisei Gojuryu and then Kanzen Gojuryu (because of a split in the Nisei Gojuryu Association) with Sensei Mike DiRaimondo. Sensei Perez continued his Gojuryu training with Sensei Peter Urban in New York City after he graduating from college. He received a Shodan Certificate in Gojuryu Karate-do before moving to Maine in 1983.

In 1984, he started studying Matsumura Seito Shorinryu Karatedo and Kobudo (AOSKKF) under Hanshi Fusei Kise. This organization is now known as the Okinawan Matsumura Seito Shorinryu Karate & Kobudo Federation (O.S.M.K.K.F.). He earned and was issued the rank of Yondan (4th degree black belt) with this organization. Sensei Perez has further earned and been issued the rank of Rokudan (6th degree black belt) as well as the Title of Renshi (Full Proficiency Teacher's License) in Matsumura Seito Shorinryu Karate, Hakutsuru & Kobudo and Yamaneryu Kobujutsu with the late Kioshi Chuck Chandler under Hanshi Takaya Yabiku after resigning from Kise sensei's organization in 2000.* Both Yabiku and Chandler Sensei were former students of Hohan Soken. 

*More information regarding all this can be found in the FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS tab.

Sensei Perez has also trained extensively in several other martial and related arts such as the Chinese Internal Martial Arts of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan)**, Baguaquan (Pa-Qua Chuan)** and Qinjiquan (Ching-Ji Chuan)** under the late Master Zhan, Luping. He has also trained in Bajiquan (Pa-Chi Chuan)** under Master Kai Yu, Modern Arnis, a Filipino Escrima style of blade, stick and unarmed martial art under the late Professor Remy Presas, Okazaki Danzanryu Kenpojujitsu & Seifukujitsu under the late Professor Sig Kufferath, Small Circle Jujitsu under the late Professor Wally Jay and Matsumura Shorinryu Seito Karatejutsu, Hakutsuru & Kobujutsu as well as Kohokan Konanryu (Koshinryu/Kojoryu) Karatejustu, Hakutsuru & Yamane Ryu Kobujutsu under the late Kioshi Chuck Chandler earning a Yondan (6th Degree Black Belt) and a Renshi Certificate (Master Instructor's Certificate). Since the death of Sensei Chandler, Sensei Perez has come to the conclusion that the rank issued to him by Sensei Chandler will most likely be the last one he will ever receive since he has not found any suitable person since then who can substantially add to the knowledge already acquired by him to be able to accept that person as his teacher. But you never know???

**Traditional Chinese Systems have no formal belt ranking system.

Sensei Perez has had the unfortunate experience of having to use his martial arts skills numerous times, both in his adolescence and as an adult, to save his life. In all of these cases, there were two universal factors that he continually stresses to his students: 1. The speed at which violent attacks unfold and the very little actual time they unfold in. They are literally over in mere seconds. 2. How little space they took place in, never enough space to be able to easily maneuver. Ground fighting techniques such as those promoted by wrestlers and MMA enthusiasts would have been impossible to utilize in such tight quarters.

Sensei Perez, in his relentless research of authentic ancient martial art knowledge has also been an avid military historical re-enactor since 1998. He has depicted a 'Mile' (a rank & file Roman army legionnaire) with the New England re-enactor group known as Legio III - Cyrennaica (1st Century AD Roman Legion) as well as a 1st Century Roman 'Ordinarius' Gladiator since 2001. He also depicts an 11th Century Knight Templar. Sensei Perez is an active member of the Living History Association.

Martial Arts Teaching Experience:

Sensei Perez started teaching martial arts in 1986. He has been actively teaching ever since then and hopes to continue to teach well into his advanced years.

Martial Arts Publishing:

The Northern Crane Martial Arts Association's  graphic Acupuncture Anatomical Chart which was developed and illustrated by Sensei Perez for his martial arts curriculum and published in this website is also published with the permission of Sensei Perez at the online encyclopedia: Wikipedia at its Meridians of Acupuncture web page:

This illustration has recently also been published with permission in 'The Energetic Performer: An Integrated Approach to Acting for Stage and Screen' by Amanda Brennan. It is also being used without authorization by several websites that have copied it from the Wikipedia site.

In 1994 Sensei Perez produced a popular training video 'Learning Tai Chi Chuan'. This 1 hour instructional video was sold under contract at all Bookland Bookstores in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts until 1999.

At left: Tai Chi Magazine: (Vol. 31. No. 1) Feb./Mar. 2007. Containing an article titled 'Sword Silk Reeling' authored by Sensei Perez. This magazine is the world's #1 leading publication dedicated to the Tai Chi Art Form. 


Sensei Perez was born in Havana Cuba and emigrated to the United States in1960. Sensei Perez became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1972. Academically Sensei Perez earned a Bachelor's Degree from Stony Brook University in 1975. Professionally, Sensei Perez worked as an art director at several New York City advertising agencies working on a variety of well known national and international accounts before moving to Maine in 1983. 

Sensei Perez is a published illustrator and author of the 'Official Rules of Little League Baseball in Pictures' originally published by Grosset & Dunlap. An updated paperback edition is still available on the web: 'Official Little League Baseball Rules in Pictures' by Phil Perez (ISBN:9780448154657). Sensei Perez has also had several of his short stories published. Sensei Perez also received a U.S. Patent: for his 'Fast Escape Child Safety Harness' - US 6109698 A: granted on November 22, 1999. 

After moving to Maine, Sensei Perez quickly ended his graphic arts career to fulfill his childhood dream of becoming a martial arts instructor. He also obtained a massage therapist license in Maine and practiced both fulltime from 1986 until 2008. Since then he has taught martial arts and practiced massage therapy only part time. 

Sensei Perez resides in Sanford Maine with his family and enjoys the rural life of Maine. He has never regretted leaving the uber-urban Big Apple.

Sensei David McKnight - ChiDan - 4th Degree Black Belt*: Senior Instructor

A native of Maine, Sensei McKnight started his martial arts training with Sensei Perez in 1999. He has achieved a Chidan (4th degree black belt) in Matsumura Seito Karate-do & Kobudo at Northern Crane Martial Arts Association and has been a dedicated student for over 18 years.  Sensei McKnight graduated from Thornton Academy in 1984. He graduated from Southern Maine Tech in Electronics. He has one adult son and resides in Dayton Maine with his wife. Sensei McKnight productive non-martial arts time is spent as a technician at a High-Tech company. 

*Martial Arts Degrees are very subjective. Some styles or associations have members that are considered masters and hold very high ranks like 9th & 10th degree while still under the age of 40, some even in their 20's and some even have black belts under the age of 10. This is unimaginable in the old traditional systems like the one taught at Northern Crane where it can take up to 7 years or more just to go from white belt to 1st degree black belt (Shodan).


Testimonials for Sensei Perez:

I have been getting massages on a regular basis since I began my pre-medical training almost ten years ago. Through medical school, 2 small children, and residency, it is the one special luxury that I allow myself in order to "keep my head on straight."  Over the years, I have become quite discriminating.  I learned quickly that I do not like paying someone to simply rub lotion all over my body.  I have always preferred a deep tissue massage that I feel for days afterwards.  When we moved to Portland, a friend suggested I try Phil.  I remember the first time I drove the 45 minutes to his office in Arundel.  I pulled into his parking lot and said to myself "I'll never do that drive again.  I'll just have to find someone closer to home."  That was 4 years and probably 100 massages ago!  I have tried over 2 dozen massage therapists over the years, and Phil is, in my opinion, simply the best.

      Laurin Koskinen, MD - Portland, ME 

"I was fortunate enough to be referred to Phil about six years ago and ever since then, his massage has been an indispensable part of my self-care regime. As a psychotherapist and single mom, I spend a great deal of time caring for others. For a long time I tried to care for my mind and body by exercising excessively. The mental stress of my day, together with wear and tear on my physical body left me at a major energy deficit. Regular massage is one of the ways that Iíve learned to give back to myself and reconnect with my body. Phil is extraordinarily knowledgeable about the ďhealing artsĒ and delivers a shiatsu massage that is both powerful and paradoxically gentle. The depth and precision with which he works is absolutely unparalleled by any other massage therapist Iíve ever seen. Most importantly though, is that Phil freely gives his kindness and compassion in a manner that instills a strong sense of trust in who he is as a person. I recommend his massage therapy without hesitation and am so very thankful that he is a part of my life. "

      Dr. Amy E. Littell, Psychologist - Kennebunk, ME

"When first coming to the Sanford area I was discouraged at the limited choice for instruction in Tai Chi.  I have since studied with Phil Perez for five years and I now realize how fortunate I was that circumstances directed me to his dojo.

Phil is bright, gracious and extremely dedicated to his art form.  Our philosophical discussions are often as interesting as the physical training.  He continues to pursue improvement in his own expertise and freely passes on his insights and information to his students.  I have the highest regard for Phil and hope to continue training with him for many years."

      Kent E. Shomaker, M.D. - Springvale, ME

"My son has been taking Karate for six years now with Sensei Phil and it has truly been an uplifting experience for him and for me as a parent.  Northern Crane's martial arts program has given my son the confidence I believe he would not have found in himself if not for the positive impact of Sensei Phil's program.  My son is now in college and it is comforting to me to know he has the skills to defend himself mentally as well as physically."

      Kathy Stearns - Waterboro, ME

"Phil offers content in a way that's respectful to all his students. Each class is different depending upon the needs of the individual students, their energy levels, and moods. His classes are challenging but rewarding. Phil's Tai Chi is about breathing, relaxation, meditation & martial application. The rewards come with better focus & energy to deal with life's everyday challenges. I've waited years for Phil to offer Tai Chi, and I can honestly was worth the wait.

With a deep understanding of anatomy & the movement of energy throughout the body, Phil delivers a massage that's beyond relaxing.  After one of Phil's massages, I feel a bit dazed I'm so relaxed. The day after, I feel great, revitalized, and ready to 'take on the world'. To anyone who has ever gotten a massage, or has ever considered getting one, I highly recommend a massage by Phil, they're absolutely phenomenal."

      Denise B. Crowley, RN - Sanford, ME

"Being a chiropractor can place great physical demands on my body. Thatís why massage therapy with Phil Perez has been part of my regular program for several years now, and is part of my secret in keeping myself in tip-top shape. Many of our clients have greatly benefited from Philís professional and skilled care as well over the years, and will continue to do so for many more!"

      Dr. Pete Gay, Chiropractor - Kennebunk, ME

"I began practicing the ancient oriental martial arts in 1967 and have studied two other styles before studying Tai Chi. As I've grown older, I've developed degenerative arthritis in various parts of my body, so it made it difficult to continue my studies in the "hard" styles of martial arts. Tai Chi is considered to be a "soft" style. Now I feel Tai Chi is a spiritual thing for me.

I started studying Tai Chi with Sensei in October of 1993 and have never looked back. Tai Chi enables me not only to continue my martial arts study but my arthritis pain is much diminished. I will continue doing this for the rest of my life. I do it every morning, it's wonderful."

      Bob Jacobson - Springvale, ME

"About seven years ago I was fortunate enough to mention to my sister that I had never had a massage and always wanted one.  I had come from Albany, NY to visit her on my birthday and she gave me a very special gift - my first massage with Phil Perez. During the past seven years, I have visited her and had a shiatsu massage with Phil about four times a year.  Phil is a most caring and accomplished therapist.  He knows of my medical history of breast cancer and deals specifically with my physical conditions with great awareness.  I have had both the traditional and Japanese massage and enjoyed both, but will keep coming back for the Japanese healing massage.  My body and spirits are both grateful for having Phil as a part of my life.  He invited my husband to observe the massage one day and he was duly impressed with Phil's professionalism and caring. I only wish an office in Albany was not out of the question!"

      Sandy Stone - Albany, NY

"I am writing to put into words my gratitude for all of Sensei Phil's help and support over the past eight years. His guidance in, and approach to, the practice of Tai Chi -Tai Chi Chuan Taiji or Taijiquan - drew my interest from the very first. After my first series of classes with Phil ended and I learned he had no immediate plans to begin another course, I failed to find anything that worked as well for me. It was a long wait, and my practice waxed and waned during that time, but I found I always returned to my attempts to keep going. When Sensei recently began to teach Tai Chi again, I enrolled immediately and, to my great delight, I discovered that his teaching is more thorough, structured, skilled, and patient than ever. Your historically informed instruction is opening up an understanding of the beauty of the form and an appreciation of Tai Chi as a martial art that I had never before suspected I would find.

I have also benefited greatly from his skillful massages over the years. I have vivid memories of the first few times I sought Phil's services.  I was having severe back pain and would limp down the hall from my office to his studio. Phil always made the pain subside and I would be limber and comfortable for days! Now, the combination of his wonderful massages and Tai Chi instruction provide me with feelings of invigorated relaxation, physical self confidence, and increased discipline.  These results are invaluable aids to my efforts to maintain a healthy level of fitness.  Thank you so very much."

      Myrna Higgins - Kennebunk, ME

"Phil gives an excellent massage!  I recently saw him for work on an old injury and felt great for days.  he is holistic in his approach; and a true professional in his work.  I recommend him highly."

       Annie Lemieux, Art Teacher - Kennebunkport, ME

"Mr. Perez is a rare find.  An expert in the martial arts who is also a gifted massage therapist.  His treatments have left me feeling both deeply relaxed and revitalized." 

      Dr. Marc Kaplan, Psychiatrist - Kennebunkport, ME

"I have benefited physically as well as spiritually from my karate training and massage therapy with Sensei Perez.  My only wish is that he lived in Orlando or I lived in Maine so that I could have more access to him."

      Sensei Ralph Sanchez, Sheriff - Orlando, FL

"My life changed greatly once I came to the Dojo, I was skeptical at first. Although Sensei has taught me things I never knew were there to be taught and continues to. I honestly think if I had not started studying at his Dojo I would be like many of my friends smoking weed and getting in trouble. Not to mention getting in fights all the time, but there is one thing above all I have learned here: Self Control.

Not only is it fun for kids, it teaches them a lot of valuable lessons and is a good way to spend time. I thought it was going to be all about muscle strength, it's not. It honestly doesn't matter what shape you're in. You adjust in time and it's so fun you won't get tired, well maybe a little."

      Chris Boucher, Student - Kennebunk, ME

"I couldn't raise my right arm, now I have total mobility.  My back, indeed my whole body  thanks you for taking such good care of it for the last 6 years."

       Betty Davis - West Newfield, ME

"Phil Perez has been my massage therapist for over 5 years; I cannot overstate the relief and improvement to my physical well being his work has provided for me. I travel nationwide on business at least several times a month and my work is fast paced and stressful. Each massage from Phil is welcome, whether Japanese Shiatsu or Swedish style, and I always leave his facility relaxed and rejuvenated. Recently I joined one of Phil's Tai Chi - Tai Chi Chuan, Taiji or Taijiquan classes, and while I cannot attend or practice as often as I would like each time I leave the class feeling stronger and healthier."

     John Clinton - Kennebunkport, ME

"We have seen a great improvement in our grandson's self-esteem since he joined Karate at Northern Crane.  Nick, our grandson, has also lost weight.  Phil Perez, the owner-instructor, is very patient with the kids.

      Monique Webster - Arundel, ME

"I first met Sensei Phil through my fourteen year old daughter, who was attending and studying Karate under him. I was impressed with the amount of knowledge he has in the Martial Arts as well as the passion he feels for it. He has a natural ability to instill confidence in his students. All his students are treated with respect, all are equal, no one is above another. After watching his teaching technique, I enrolled myself in his school and it has given me a great sense of accomplishment. I always look forward to my next class with the same feeling of excitement every time I walk thru the schoolís door. Being an over the road truck driver, I go to a lot dangerous areas. With what I've learned, and will learn, it has given me a great feeling of confidence. It is a joy studying under Sensei Phil. As I climb the ladder in my course of study, I look forward to my next challenge."

      Steven Silva, OTR  - Wells, ME