Our instructors have a passion for high quality martial arts and practical compassionate peacemaking. Read more about them below:
Kris Polega, 1st Dan
Ms. Polega started training in TaeKwonDo at Peacemakers in February of 2009, and started teaching in January 2010. She received my black belt in March 2015. She received her Masters of Divinity in 2017 from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary in Elkhart, IN, which influences how she mentors students and teaches peacemaking. Ms. Polega is also a big fan of baseball.
Ms. Polega originally started training in TaeKwonDo and Peacemakers because her kids, in grade school at the time, were already training. She was drawn to TaeKwonDo to learn how to physically defend herself, and Peacemakers specifically because she heard the instructors constantly telling her kids that peacemaking is about doing conflict well, not the absence of conflict. This fit with her experience in life—avoiding conflict may be “peaceful,” but it doesn’t necessarily bring peace (or justice) to all parties involved. She also valued that the instructors constantly told her kids that martial arts are about honor, integrity, self-control, and harmony with oneself and others—all core principles to being a peacemaker. The more she watched her kids take class at Peacemakers, the more she wanted to join. Her biggest passion at Peacemakers is teaching women’s self-defense classes or seminars, helping women claim their power and voice.
Photo and bio coming soon.
Peter Anderson, 2nd Dan
Mr. Anderson has been practicing martial arts since he started wrestling and kickboxing as a middle schooler in 1997. He started TaeKwonDo in college, and earned his 2nd Dan in 2015. He previously taught for two years in the United Kingdom as part of the Hadri Taekwondo Academy in London. In addition to TaeKwonDo, Mr. Anderson has a wide range of experience with Hapkido, Tang Soo Do, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, Jeet Kune Do, and a mix of self-defense and combatives systems.
Mr. Anderson first learned about the Peacemakers Academy while a youth pastor in Chicago, and was keenly interested in the ways that the martial arts could be a tool for forming students into peacemakers. His interactions with Peacemakers and their curriculum shaped how he taught TaeKwonDo and peace while in London. Mr. Anderson has a passion for people learning to handle conflict well—both external conflicts with other people as well as the internal conflicts within our soul. To that end, he highlights the need for learning tools for personal and spiritual growth in addition to learning simple and effective self defense and peacemaking skills. Mr. Anderson has used his broad experience to shape the self-defense curriculum while adding elements of mindfulness and Nonviolent Communication to the peacemaking curriculum.
Nicholas Peebles, 3rd Dan
Photo and bio coming soon.
Wes Higginbotham, 4th Dan
Wes start training with Goshen Tae Kwon Do Academy as a member of the North American Tae Kwon Do Association (NATKA) in 1980. He went on to earn the rank of Master Instructor(4th Dan) with NATKDA. In 2001, after extensive discussion and planning, Wes, his wife Karen, and Steve and Phil Thomas, launched the Peacemakers program. With Wes serving as Peacemakers’ Lead Instructor, the program began with a class one night a week at the Goshen Boys and Girls Club. He continued to train and teach classes at Goshen Tae Kwon Do through 2005 while also conducting Peacemakers classes at satellite locations. To aid in his Peacemakers work, he also trained with the Alternatives to Violence Project and the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program.
Peacemakers opened its Academy space in 2005, and Wes continued as Lead Instructor through 2015. During that time he and his team conducted numerous women’s safety trainings, adult self defense seminars, and student demonstrations focusing on the Peacemaker program guidelines. Wes retired from Peacemakers in 2015.
Karen Higginbotham, 1st Dan
Karen started training in in Tae Kwon Do in 1985 at the Goshen Tae Kwon Do Academy. She received her 1st Dan in 1989. Karen’s influence was instrumental in the formation of the Peacemaker program. She designed the original Peacemakers patch, helped write the Peacemakers Pledge, and was a co-creator of the Peacemakers forms. Karen taught women’s safety classes and self defense classes in the community, as well as Peacemakers classes at satellite locations while she continued her training. She earned her Peacemakers black belt in 2006, and was an on-call instructor at Peacemakers until her retirement in 2015.
Steve Thomas, 1st Dan
Bio coming soon.
Misty Brown, 1st Dan
Bio coming soon.