Sensei Bettie (BJ Thomas) Vaughan began her martial arts
career in 1971 at the Dravidian School of Self Defense and
Karate under Sensei Russ Meeks, and her instructor Larry
BJ had studied Tae Kwon Do under Master Kim of Chicago
before becoming a student of Preston Baker. Under his and his
brother Otis Baker tutelage^ honed her martial arts skills.
Traveling and competing throughout the Midwest with the
Baker brothers, BJ became a notable competitor, being noted in
martial arts magazines such as Black Belt, Official Karate, and
In January 1977, BJ was awarded Shodan in Shorei Goju Ryu
by the Bakers, thus becoming their first female black belt. BJ
became the only female member of the Windy City Pros (full
contact professional karate team).
In April 1977 she joined the military and was assigned to Munich
Germany. During her stint in the military, she taught karate, and
competed while traveling throughout Germany.
In 1985 while stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany BJ taught self
defense and karate classes to children of active duty military
and DOD civilians.
Today BJ trains and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
Bettie "BJ Thomas" Vaughn Sensei
Sandan 3rd Degree Black Belt
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