Each martial arts course taught at the Carbondale Park District emphasizes different things, and each sensei, or instructor, brings a different personality and teaching style to their dojo, or classroom. This allows our martial arts programs to suit students who come to us with different needs, skills, and learning styles. It also allows students who want to learn a broader range of skills to study multiple martial arts.

But each program has in common a commitment to excellence and high standards. In addition to teaching solid, effective martial arts techniques, they instill in our students the values of respect, discipline, and hard work.


Karen and Rob Gallegly, the top active aikido instructors in Southern Illinois, teach the Carbondale Park District’s aikido classes Mondays and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at Lakeland, 925 S. Giant City Rd. Eight-week sessions cost $48 for residents and $60 for non-residents


Carbondale Park District jujitsu students learn the Mushin Ryu style. This martial art sometimes spelled jiu-jitsu, originated in California. Professor David Bellman, tenth-degree (judan) black belt, heads up the style. The Carbondale Park District’s jujitsu instructor is Sensei Mark Hurling.

Mushin Ryu Jujitsu teaches:

  • Self-defense
  • Self-discipline
  • How to teach as well as learn

Mushin Ryu descends from the Danzan Ryu style of jujitsu, concentrating on self-defense. During its development, Sensei Bellman incorporated elements of Kenpo’s hand strikes along with joint lock flow techniques to control and subdue attackers.

Beginner sessions run Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. at Lakeland, 925 S. Giant City Rd. They’re open to students 10 and older, including adult students. Sessions cost $44 for residents and $55 for non-residents. The beginning class assumes that students have no experience with martial arts of any kind.

As the beginner progresses, they may attend an advanced class on Fridays at 5:30 p.m.

Sensei Hurling was promoted to second-degree black belt (Nidan) in Mushin Ryu in 2018. He began his martial arts training at age 15 in 1965 in Shorei Goju karate. He competed in NCAA judo while attending SIUC. During this time, he also practiced Shotokan karate. Later, during his law enforcement career, he practiced tae kwon do and continued to train in and coach collegiate judo at SIU. He has taught jujitsu at the Carbondale Park District since 2017.


Carbondale Park District karate students learn the Isshin Shorinji Ryu style, specifically the Midwest branch of the system. The Park District’s instructor, Chris Wissmann, earned his third-degree black belt in Isshin Shorinji Ryu karate in 2019. He started training in karate in 1984 under the late Tom Heriaud, the highest-ranking Isshin Shorinji Ryu instructor in the Midwest. Sensei Wissmann went on to study, among other martial arts, aikido and Moo Duk Kwan under Guido Bernstein. Sensei Wissmann has taught karate at the Carbondale Park District since 2013.

Among other things, Isshin Shorinji Ryu karate teaches:

  • Self-defense – Students learn the physical and strategic martial arts skills they need to survive dangerous situations.
  • Sports and fitness – In our karate classes, students develop the strength, endurance, and flexibility they need to make their self-defense skills more effective and improve their overall health. In addition, while we don’t require that our students compete, we do prepare them for success in regional martial arts tournaments, where they consistently prove their excellence.
  • Personal growth – The ethical bedrock on which we base karate, the physical trials we overcome, the mental strategies we learn in training, and the discipline we develop apply not only to self-defense and tournament competition but to the classroom, workplace, and other life challenges. In short, karate is an infinitely transferrable martial art, and the work ethic and insights you gain from karate can make you a better, more successful person.

In addition to the traditional karate forms of Isshin Shorinji Ryu, Carbondale Park District karate students learn a mix of other martial arts, including competitive, freestyle light-contact sparring.

Eight-class beginner sessions run Mondays at 5:30 p.m. at Lakeland, 925 S. Giant City Rd. They’re open to students 10 and older, and we welcome adult students. Sessions cost $40 for residents and $50 for non-residents. Students need no experience with martial arts or karate to start training.

After graduating from our beginner session, students may join the advanced class, which takes place Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m.

Self-Defense Seminars

For those who don’t want to make a long-term commitment to martial arts training, our instructors can hold free, single-day, group self-defense seminars for you. We teach simple, effective, easy-to-remember self-defense techniques tailored for your group, club, or organization. Our diverse approaches to self-defense allow students to learn skills that work best for them. In addition, we discuss not just how, but when, to use physical self-defense skills, emphasizing the need to avoid physical confrontations in the first place by first exhausting all realistic nonviolent options.

We are happy to host a self-defense seminar for you here. We can also come to visit you if you have an appropriate space.

Register Now for Our Martial Arts Classes

Those who wish to register for any of our martial arts or other Carbondale Park District programs can call Lakeland, 925 S. Giant City Rd. at (618) 549-4222 or register online at any time.