About Our Founder – Grandmaster Manuel R. Taningco

Grandmaster Taningco has been active in the martial arts since 1964. In 1976, he founded the Taningco Academy of Martial Arts (TAMA) in Dayton, Ohio to provide the means to share his unique mix of martial arts training programs in a single martial arts training center.

At the forefront of these systems is his family’s Willow System Kali (Robles Family Style), where he is the lineage holder and a 10th Degree Black Belt.

He is an 8th Degree in Shaolin Kenpo by Grandmaster Tim Gasper. Grandmaster Taningco’s Kenpo lineage came from Grandmaster Timothy Gasper as was handed down by the late Grandmaster Donald Fong from China.

MANUEL R. TANINGCO - Founder of Tama/Grandmaster
Grandmaster Manuel R. Taningco – Founder of TAMA Family Martial Arts
Grandmaster Gasper integrated the arts of Chinese Shaolin kung fu, Okinawan Kempo Karate-do, judo, and jujitsu to create a well-rounded program , 3rd Degree in Icho-Ryu Aikijutsu under Sensei Bernie Lau, 1st Dan Black Belt under Professor Ramon Ancho in Danzan Ryu-Jujitsu, 65th Generation Disciple of Tien Shan Pai Kung-fu under Grandmaster Chien Liang Huang, Master License Pekiti-Tirsia under Grandmaster Leo Gaje, Certified Muay Thai instructor under United World Muay Thai Federation –Vut Kamnark).

Early Life and Martial Arts Training Education

During Grandmaster Taningco’s childhood, gangs were rampant in the Philippines. So, under the tutelage of his older brother Alex R. Taningco, Grandmaster Taningco learned the family arts to protect himself in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila.

Grandmaster Taningco also studied Okinawan Shotokan Karate and weaponry under his older brother, Alex. After moving to the United States, Grandmaster Taningco integrated other Filipino martial arts’ (FMA) best practices from world-renowned Grandmasters with whom he has studied. These Grandmasters read like a “who’s who” of FMA and include such names as Dan Inosanto (FMA/Jeet Kune Do), Leo Gaje (Pekiti Tirsia), Remy Presas (Modern Arnis), Ciriaco “Cacoy” Cañete, and Dionisio Canete (Doce Pares).

Grandmaster Taningco also is recognized as a 6th Degree Black Belt in Doce Pares Eskrido and as a first-generation Disciple of Grandmaster Leo Gaje in the Pekiti Tirsia System.

Martial Arts Instructor Professional Career

In 1976, he founded the Taningco Academy of Martial Arts (TAMA) in Dayton, Ohio to share his unique mix of martial arts systems. At this martial arts center, he has trained numerous people through the rank of black belt with some continuing on to achieve master-level ranking. He also has had his martial arts training methods proven in the ring by Golden Gloves boxers and notable mixed martial arts fighters.

Grandmaster Taningco has numerous accomplishments both as an international competitor and as a martial arts instructor. Most recently, Grandmaster Taningco was inducted into the “Bruce Lee & Arnold Legends of Martial Arts Hall of Honor,” when he was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award as a Kali Grandmaster during the 44th Arnold Battle of Columbus Martial Arts World Games 2020. Grandmaster Taningco also has had the privilege to teach US and Filipino elite forces. He has provided martial arts training to the Philippine National Police’s elite unit, the Special Action Force. He also has taught Close Quarter Combatives (CQC) to US Armed Forces throughout his career to include US Air Force Security Forces prior to their deployment to Iraq.

Grandmaster Taningco also has assisted as a martial arts instructor at the US Marine Corps Base Quantico. There, he trained US Marine Instructors in CQC for both tactical knife and combative hands. For his contributions, he was awarded with a “Certificate of Martial Arts Excellence.”

Grandmaster Taningco currently conducts martial arts training seminars throughout the United States and internationally, often with his sons, Jaden and Lee, assisting. He is preparing to launch Kali America, a source for Kali Global Online Training.

Martial Arts Instructor Ranking (Year Awarded)

  • 10th Dan Black Belt—Filipino Kali “Willow System” (Robles Family Style), Grandfather Lorenzo Robles, George Robles, and Alex Robles Taningco—Started martial arts in 1964 under Alex R. Taningco (older brother) and Lorenzo Robles (grandfather) in the family’s Willow System of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) (2000)
  • 65th Generation Disciple of Tien Shan Pai Kung-Fu under Grandmaster Huang, Chien Liang—Began study of Tien Shan Pai Kung Fu in 1978 under Grandmaster Huang, Chien-Liang, 64th generation heir of the Tien Shan Pai System. On July 5, 1981, Manuel Taningco became a 65th generation disciple under Grandmaster Huang in the presence of Supreme Master Wang, Chueh-Jen. He was one of 14 in the original group of Americans with the honor of being recognized as Grandmaster Huang’s disciples. (1981)
  • 8th Dan Black Belt – Professor in Kenpo Jujitsu under Grandmaster Timothy Gasper—Began studying under Grandmaster Gasper in 1972 (1998)
  • 7th Dan Black Belt – Recognized by Grandmaster Al Tracy and Grandmaster Huang, Chien Liang certification Awarded (1996)
  • 3rd Dan Black Belt – Aikijutsu, Icho-Ryu Style under Sensei Bernie Lau (1991)
  • Shodan Black Belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu – Professor Ramón “Lono” Ancho Jr., a classmate of Professor Wally Jay under Henry Okazaki (1986)
  • 8th Dan Black Belt – Doce Pares Eskrido System under Grandmaster Cacoy Canete (1998)
  • Certified Ajarn in Muay Thai Kickboxing UWMTA – awarded by Ajarn Vut Kamnark and recognized by Ajarn Saekson, Sakasem, Matee, Hugh Miller, and Bernie Profato (Ohio State Sports Athletic Commissioner) (2009)
  • Lifetime Doce Pares member – signed by Eulogio Canete (1984)
  • Mandala Tuhon Grandmaster of Pekiti Tirsia – awarded by GrandTuhon Leo Gaje Jr. (2004)
  • Purple Belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu – Luis Palhares Brazilian Jiujitsu (2008)


Notable Accomplishments

  • 1976 to present – Founder of the Taningco Academy of Martial Arts (TAMA) in Dayton, Ohio
  • Promoting Filipino Marital Arts (FMA) in Ohio since 1976 through teaching regular classes and seminars
  • 1977, 1978, 1979 – Three-time International Karate Champion, (United States Karate Alliance [USKA] International Championship)
  • 1977 – Won first place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in Tang Soo Do tournament, competing in seven straight consecutive continuous-fighting matches
  • 1979 – Trained 5-time Dayton, Ohio Golden Glove Champion, Alan Schroeder
  • 1979 to present – Continue training full-contact fighters for Professional Karate Commission (PKC), boxing, bando, and Muay Thai events
  • Held the longest USKA Tournament Circuit streak going undefeated in 26 consecutive, competitive weeks
  • 1979 – Recognized by GM Remy Presas as an FMA practitioner/teacher
  • 1979 – Recognized by Dan Inosanto as FMA practitioner/teacher
  • 1979, 1980 – 2-time U.S. Open Superstar Kung-Fu Champion
  • 1980 – Full Contact Stick Fighting Champion, Great George, New Jersey
  • 1982, 1983, and 1984 – 3-time Chuck Norris United Fighting Arts Federation Award (taught FMA) – Awarded as Weapons and Self-Defense Expert by UFAF
  • 1986 and 2017 – Inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame as “Instructor of the Year”
  • 1987 – Inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame by United States Police Defense Tactical Association as “Martial Arts Practitioner”
  • 1987 – Certified State of Ohio Police Defense Tactical Instructor
  • 1987 – Taught Dayton and Kettering, Ohio S.W.A.T Teams and US Marshall forces
  • 1988 and 1989 – Two-time Ohio State Junior Olympics Coach
  • Taningco – trained fighters won two gold medals in 1988
  • 1989 – Inducted into Martial Arts Hall of Fame by National Martial Arts Federation as “Instructor of the Year”
  • 1988 – Awarded “Sultan Award” by GM Leo Gaje, Jr.
  • 1989 – Recognized by Educational Funding Corporation (EFC) with a “Top Martial Arts School Award” (National winner for performance and quality standards regarding student’s enthusiasm, support, and diligent effort)
  • 1992 – Promoters’ Excellence Award by Eastern Martial Arts Association
  • 1992 – TAMA was recognized as Black Belt Magazine’s “School of the Month” (August issue)
  • 1993 – Inducted into the Eastern USA International Martial Arts Association (EUSAIMAA) Hall of Fame as “Martial Artist of the Year”
  • 1993 – Competed in the World Champion in Kumite (fighting division) held in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 1993 – Performed a Kali demonstration in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 1993-1996 – Martial Arts Professor at University of Dayton
  • 1994-1995 – Martial arts movie appearances – Fightzone, Superfights, and Deadly Dance of Swords
  • 1994 – Performed an FMA demonstration at the International Martial Arts Event in St. Petersburg, Russia
  • 1994 – Served as Coach for TEAM USA for World Kuoshu Tournament in Taiwan.
  • 1994 TEAM USA for WKT in Taiwan took 3rd Place
  • 1994 – Silver Medalist in Tai-Chi and Chinese Weapons Forms in Friendship Martial Arts Tournament, Shanghai, China, competing against five other countries
  • 1994 – Won 1st place as the Weapons Full Contact Grand Champion, Denver, Colorado
  • 1997 – Recognized by the Martial Arts Gallery of Fame with the “Golden Achievement Award”
  • 1998 – Awarded “Grandmaster of the Year” by the Filipino Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • 1998 – Served as Chief Referee for Arnold Martial Arts Festival Columbus, Ohio
  • 1999 – Recognized by the Chinese martial arts community with the “World Kuosho Competition Demo Award” in Baltimore, Maryland
  • 2001 – Started promoting Muay Thai fight promotion both locally and nationally
  • 2004 – Created the Integrated Self-Defense (ISD) combative fighting system for US Armed Forces (US Air Force Security Forces)
  • 2004 – Taught US Armed Forces training in Close Quarter Combatives to over 250 Air Force Security Forces members
  • 2004 – Awarded Golden Lifetime Achievement Award by Sport Karate Museum’s Living Legends
  • 2004 – Taught Close Quarter Combatives to Philippine Marines, Special Action Force Instructors, and Philippine National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) (equivalent to FBI and CIA)
  • 2005 – Taught Close Quarter Combatives at US Marine headquarters at Quantico, Virginia
  • 2005 – Inducted into the “Ohio Black Belt Hall of Fame”
  • 2005 – Presented the “Martial Arts Excellence Award” by US Marines
  • 2005 – Inducted into the “Legion of Honor” by Miami Valley Tournament Association (MVTA)
  • 2006 – Created “Daystar in Action,” a non-profit charitable organization to help underprivileged kids
  • 2006 to 2011 – Served as Director of Martial Arts for Arnold Schwarzenegger Martial Arts Festival (San Shou and Muay Thai)
  • 2007 – Presented “Martial Arts Pioneer Award” by EUSAIMAA
  • 2007 – Recognized by the US Marshals for teaching Close Quarter Combatives
  • 2011 – Inducted in the Ohio Martial Arts Magazine’s Hall of Fame
  • 2011 – Named to the Association Boxing Commissions Unified Rules and Regulations Committee – nominated by the Athletic Commissioner, State of Ohio, Bernie Profato
  • 2012 – 2013 – Led Team TAMA to President’s Cup Runner Up at the MVTA
  • 2014 – 2019 – Awarded contract by Mad River Schools to teach the District’s martial arts summer program
  • 2015 – Created “Kali America” curriculum for FMA online training
  • 2015-17 – Presented the Hall of Fame Award by the Circles of Masters in Cleveland, Ohio for donating time to teach and helped raise funds for US Veterans.
  • 2019 – Received an award from Manila, Philippines, The Bayanihan, as recognition as a Grandmaster in Filipino Martial Arts, earning the “Heroes of FMA/Bayanihan” award
  • PHN0cm9uZz4=2019PC9zdHJvbmc+ – Honored with a trophy By Master Robert Perry of MVTA for recognition as an “Exemplary Grandmaster of Martial Arts”
  • 2020 – Presented with the “Bruce Lee & Arnold Legends of Martial Arts Hall of Honor Lifetime Achievement Award – Filipino Kali Grandmaster”
  • 2020 – Named Chief Referee at Arnolds Schwarzenegger Martial Arts Festival – Columbus, Ohio

Books Written and Published

  • Wings of Thought – Martial Arts Handbook (ISBN-13: 978-0692460993)
  • Doggone Truth About Meditation
  • Chi of Life (ISBN-13: 978-1981613953)
  • Secrets of Tao
  • TAMA Student Handbook
  • Aikijutsu Student Handbook
  • Kali Student Handbook

Videos Created and Published

  • Sticks of Fury – 6 DVDs (each DVD are one hour) instructional Kali (published 2000)
  • Kali America (will launch soon) Online Kali Training
  • Community Support Fraternity
  • Dorwood Optimist International (Kettering, Ohio) – “Bringing Out the Best in Kids”



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