About Us

Mercer Academy of Martial Arts has been located in West Trenton/Ewing for 20 years. Founded by the late Master Denis James, the school was first called Zen Spas and, in addition to offering martial arts, provided a weight room and aerobics classes. Master James had trained at Shin Karate in Trenton for 12 years. He taught traditional Tang Soo Do, incorporating a more practical and realistic approach for self-defense. After many years as Zen Spas, Master James changed the name to James Karate and focused on martial arts and self-defense.

Master James began training regularly in Gracie Jiu-jitsu with Phil Migliarese and studied other forms of martial arts to expand his knowledge. He taught a unique system that combines the fundamental principals of a variety of martial arts and self-defense styles. The classic foundation of his style is based on the traditional Korean art of Tang Soo Do. The self-defense system consists of boxing, mixed martial arts, Japanese and Brazilian Jujitsu along with American Kickboxing. The weapon training has its roots in the traditional Okinawan, Korean and Japanese styles. Master James was dedicated to preserving the traditional values of martial arts, but at the same time was open to all styles and their contribution to a practical system of self-defense. His philosophy was "if it works, we'll use it."

Master Charles Irwin, an instructor of Master James and Master Jones, joined the James Karate club, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge and experience in martial arts techniques and weapons. Master Irwin started training interested students for tournaments and the trophies displayed at the school are a testimony to his and the students' dedication and success in the competitive arena. Through the leadership and dedication of Master James, Master Jones and Master Irwin, James Karate became one of the most successful martial arts schools in Mercer County.

After the sudden death of Master James in December 2001, Master Ron Jones took over the school and renamed it Mercer Academy of Martial Arts. Master Jones had been a student and friend of Master James for many years, an instructor at Zen Spas, James Karate, and owner of Jones Karate. Master Jones is the sole owner and President of Mercer Academy of Martial Arts.

Master Jones continues to honor the legacy of Master James by incorporating different karate styles into the teaching curriculum, which Master James successfully wove from the different styles he studied. Master Jones trains Gracie Jiu-jitsu, Japanese ju-jitsu, and has attended numerous seminars in other forms of martial arts. Master Jones continues to teach with the same philosophy as Master James. He remains open minded to all martial arts styles and actively pursues individuals from different martial arts disciplines to offer seminars/classes that will benefit all students and instructors of Mercer Academy of Martial Arts