Meet the Instructors

Steve Haydock

Head Instructor

Steve is a 3rd Degree Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  He started his martial arts training at age 19 with the study of Shorin-Ryu Karate.  During this period he saw UFC 1 and was intrigued at the fighting style used by Royce Gracie to defeat all his opponents.  

Steve began his BJJ training in 1999 with Dean Taylor, who was a blue belt under the legendary Rickson Gracie. This started Steve’s training journey that would take him to the Rickson Gracie Academy in Pacific Pallisades, CA where he would be exposed to the teachings of Rickson and his senior instructors.  

Steve continued his training with the association until he was promoted to purple belt by Roberto ‘Risada’ Atalla, Head of the Rio Grappling Club, eventually receiving his Black Belt in 2007. Since then Steve has taught and instructed  groups and individuals all over the world including SWAT / LEO teams, military, corporate groups and individual athletes.

Assistant BJJ instructor, Kids Jiu Jitsu Instructor

Sam Palmer

Assistant Instructor, Kids Instructor

Sam is Kokoro’s assistant Jiu Jitsu instructor and lead instructor for the kids program. He has extensive coaching experience in all areas of fitness and multiple athletic disciplines. He is a keen climber and outdoor enthusiast. He holds the rank of Blue Belt (Red Bar) in Jiu Jitsu in recognition of his coaching abilities. He is also a CrossFit L2 Trainer.

Nutrition and fitness coach

Natosha Willhite-Haydock

Nutrition / Fitness Coach

Natosha is Kokoro’s chief fitness coach and head of the nutrition program. Natosha has been a competitive athlete and involved in fitness her whole life. She is a Certified Level 3 CrossFit Trainer and works as part of CrossFit HQ’s Elite Team of Seminar Trainers. She travels the world to help deliver the CrossFit L1 and L2 seminars. She is also a L1 certified Precision Nutrition Coach. She can help tailor your nutrition to better support your goals on and off the mat.

Kokoro instructors

Luke Shepard

MMA & Striking Instructor

Luke brings over a decade of MMA experience to the team. He began his training and fight career at the world famous Team Quest in Portland, OR. Luke has competed in MMA and Kickboxing as an amateur and a professional. He is the former XCF Welterweight Champion and holds a purple belt in Jiu Jitsu under Steve Haydock. Whether you are training for self defense or to compete in the cage Luke can help you combine the striking and grappling arts and achieve your goals.


We’d love to have you join us!