Denise Valentine Laiosa

Massachusetts, USA

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Fitness and athletics were a big part of Denise’s upbringing; her parents, still fit in their late 70s, were great role models.  Because of her love of athletics, it’s really not a surprise that Denise eventually tried the martial arts.  When she started karate, she was one of two adults in a primarily youth class. Soon after becoming a Shodan, Sensei Jon Cierri announced that he was retiring and moving out of state. Denise was devastated and a bit anxious, especially when he asked her to accept the primary responsibility of keeping the school together. Denise was initially awkward with the idea being in charge of the junior black belt students who had studied karate longer than herself. With the encouragement of her students and with support from Sensei Jon Cierri and Sensei Jack Summers and his seniors in the area, she stepped up to the plate. It was a transitional time for everyone, but it worked out well. Denise says she will always be grateful for the encouragement and assistance she received, which supported the school’s growth. Denise believes that never has she derived such a great feeling of fulfillment and challenge as she has from karate and she hopes to grow old with the continuation of her studies.   Through karate, Denise has had many doors opened to her:  to new goals and skills, to new friendships and role models, to an enhanced career path, and last, to this unbelievable journey to Okinawa !

Contact Me 

Personal Information

Current occupation or profession:

Health Educator, Registered Dietitian/Licensed Nutritionist, Graduate Student

Marital status:



One daughter, (Born 1993)

Hobbies, special interest or skills:

a.  Family time, rollerblading, working out, anything health and fitness-related, reading, baking, music, volunteer and Board of Directors: American Cancer Society

b.  CPR, First Aid certified

Age 48

Karate Information

Current rank: Sandan
Total years of study: 6 ˝
Current style: Shohei Ryu
Current dojo:

a.   Cierri’s Okinawan Karate School, Norwell, MA

b.   Institute of Okinawan Karate, Quincy MA

Current instructor(s):

Jon Cierri, Jack Summers

Association affiliation

Okikukai/Shohei Ryu

Karate training and years attended:

a.   Nakamatsu/Summers Training, Quincy , MA , August 2002

b.   Mattson Uechi Summer Camp, 2001, 2002

c.   Robert Campbell, visiting instructor seminar, Boston , 1999

Other marital arts experience:  

Some Kobudo (Beginner level), bo, sai and sword

Karate Promotions


Certificate Number

Date of Issue

Location of Promotion



May 21, 2000

Stoughton , MA



May 19, 2001

Quincy , MA



May 18, 2003

Norwell, MA


Teaching Certificates

Certificate Number

Date of Issue



May 19, 2001

 Educational Background


a.  West Valley Junior College, Cupertino, California

b.  San Diego State University, San Diego, California

College Degree(s):

Bachelor of Arts in Nutrition, Minor: Spanish

Post graduate work:

a.  Dietetic Internship: Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, MA 1981

b.  Certificate: Sports Nutrition:  Simmons College; Boston, MA 2003


At what age did you begin to study karate?

42 ˝

Why did you choose to study karate?

I chose karate for a combination of reasons.  I love all athletic challenges, so karate was just one on my list of things to try.  In addition, one of my sisters was assaulted and my best friend was held up at gunpoint, so I felt that this would be a good thing to do from a self-defense standpoint. Finally, prior to having a family, my husband was my sports partner (racquetball, tennis, biking, hiking, skiing, etc), but while our daughter was still young, we needed to split shifts in order to get our exercise. I discovered that there were karate classes at the small YWCA near my home, on Saturdays and Sundays, which worked around my career and family schedules perfectly.  I fell in love with it immediately.

Was there a reason why you chose to study Uechi Ryu?

I knew nothing about the different styles of karate prior to taking Uechi Ryu and didn’t intentionally choose the style.  I admit I did no research prior to signing up; it was a convenience factor, the instructor, Jon Cierri, was professional and talented, the classes were challenging and I needed to look no further.

What does this tour to Okinawa mean to you?

I am both angry and sad that I found this passion so late in life, thus I feel a great need to gain as much experience as I can.  What an opportunity, to join such experienced and talented women on this unprecedented journey…to learn from some of the greatest teachers in Okinawa !  This trip will no doubt humble and enlighten me in more ways than I can imagine at the present. But I know that I will return with new friends and role models, as well as an expanded knowledge of karate, the Okinawan culture, the history/roots of Uechi-Ryu and its many great teachers. Thanks to Peggy Hess ’ vision and unrelenting energy, this once-in-a-lifetime trip is becoming a reality for many women.

How has your martial arts study affected or changed your life?

Karate has affected my life in so many ways, both personally and professionally.  It has improved my focus and concentration; it has given me strength, empowerment and confidence; it has taught me humility and patience.   For the first time in my life (outside of my parents), I found a teacher who took the time to be a mentor and had the patience push me to my capabilities; and I found a class which went too fast and wasn’t long enough!

Professionally, I found a new and meaningful path in my job as a health educator, when I began co-teaching self-defense courses with my instructor, Jon Cierri. I learned so much from working with him and respected his knowledge and real-life experience as a former police officer.  I also recognized that I enjoy working with the teenage population, which now makes up the majority of our school.  

The most important thing that I have discovered from karate, however, is that I enjoy the ongoing learning process as much as, if not more than, the end result (promotions). That’s a big change for someone who is pretty goal oriented.  I do not intend to race through this most enjoyable experience, and if my body cooperates, I hope to be practicing martial arts in my 60s and 70s, like my instructors. It has given me an unbelievable sense of accomplishment and pride. 


Women’s Friendship Tour association, inc. Marguerite Hess, 3576 N.E.Skyline Drive,  Jensen Beach, Florida 34957  Telephone: (772) 334- 7731 

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