Instructor Profiles

Master Leigh Rossi – Owner and Head Instructor

Checkmate Martial Arts - Master Leigh Rossi-Owner and Head Instructor

Checkmate Martial Arts – Master Leigh Rossi-Owner and Head Instructor

Leigh Rossi is a professional martial arts instructor who holds a 5th Degree Black Belt under Dave Castoldi in Small Circle Jujitsu.   Additional Ranks include 5th Degree Black Belt from JA (Jujitsu America), 4th Degree Black Belt and Life Member of USMA (United States Martial Arts Association),  a 5th Degree Black Belt with Kitoshakai International and a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Judo.

Leigh has been studying and training in the martial arts since 1978. Leigh is a certified Defensive Tactics Instructor and Spontaneous Knife Defense Instructor for Law Enforcement and Security Professionals through PPCT (Pressure Point Control Tactics) now currently known as Human Factors Research Group/Warrior Science Group.

Having most of his formal training under Professor David Castoldi, his teaching style is a dynamic blend of Castoldi’s Jujitsu, Small Circle Jujitsu, Wing Chun, Judo, and ground fighting.

Master Leigh Rossi received 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award for over 30 years of dedication and contribution to the martial arts.


Sensei Maria Tetley –  Youth Instructor

Maria Tetley- Fitness/Youth Instructor

Maria Tetley- Fitness/Youth Instructor

Maria began training in 2001, studying Yoshitsune Jujitsu and Hakkoryu Jujitsu and continues to train a range of styles including Judo, Small Circle Jujitsu, ground and striking combinations based in Wing Chun and Muay Thai backgrounds.
Maria is a black belt in Small Circle Jujitsu and a Youth Martial Arts instructor specializing in children ages 4 to 10 and has been teaching since 2008. .

-Small Circle Jujitsu Shodan
-Hakkoryu Jujtsu 3rd degree Brown Belt
-USMAA Life Member
-Certified Spontaneous Knife Defense Instructor
-Darkness to Light Steward of Children
-2011 Student Recognition Award
-2009 Jujitsu America Ohana Award recipient


Senpai Steve Gilcreast – Instructor

Senpai Steve Gilcreast - Instructor

Senpai Steve Gilcreast – Instructor

Steve Gilcreast began his martial arts training under Hanshi Richie Bernard studying Shorin-Ryu and Goju-Ryu Karate Do. Steve began training in Jujitsu in 2004 and is a Second Degree Black Belt with Jujitsu America. He is the recipient of the 2007 Ohana Award. Steve also holds a Black Belt under Dave Castoldi in Small Circle and is a life member and Black Belt with the United States Martial Arts Association. Steve has extensive experience teaching fighting skills.

*     United States Army Ranger

*     Former SWAT Team Leader

*     Training Officer

*     Senior Instructor SIG Sauer Academy

*     Instructor NHTOA & NHPSTC

*     Certified SKD Instructor


John Hoyt – Muay Thai Instructor

John Hoyt – Muay Thai Instructor

John Hoyt started his martial arts journey 20 ago at the age of 15. John first was reluctantly exposed to an Ed Parker style of Kenpo which incorporated street self defense with striking combos mixed with elements of Jiu Jitsu and Judo. After a few years of training John was curious about becoming a more complete martial artist and this led him to cross training in Wing Chun Gung Fu ( Ving Tsun, Leung Ting style), while retrieving information at pressure point seminars. John was then curious about street self defense concepts and got certified in Krav Maga. Finally in the late 1990s when the UFC came to TV, John was exposed to BJJ, Kickboxing, MMA and this answered the questions he had about becoming a more complete martial artist. John really identified with the concepts of what MMA and live training brought to the martial arts table.
The first MMA gym john trained at exposed him to the Chute Boxe style of Kickboxing. He then moved on to a gym that had a coach that came from Fairtex Muay Thai camp. John trained for a few years in this style of Muay Thai before finding a great teacher in Mark Metzler who owns and runs north shore Muay Thai academy. Mark has trained with many great camps and coaches including Kyu Mark Nardone, Kru Phil Nurse (owner and head coach of the WAT), Sityodtong Boston (owner and head coach Kru Mark Dellagrotte) and Eric Haycraft (coach and manager of Team Haycraft). We welcome John as a valuable addition to the Checkmate curriculum!


Michael Duffy – Instructor – Checkmate WestMike Duffy - Instructor

US Army service -6 years – Honorable discharge

1986-Began training in ITF (International Taekwondo Federation) Taekwondo under Grand Master Jae Hun Kim, Boston MA

1993 – Continued training under the WTF Taekwondo-World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) system. Summit County, Colorado

1999 – Earned Internationally Certified 2nd Degree Hanmudo Black Belt

2006-Earned Internationally Certified 4th Degree Taekwondo Black Belt –WTF

2013-Earned Black Belt in Small Circle Jujitsu and Checkmate Jujitsu system under Master Rossi

Michael attended a once in a lifetime trip to China and South Korea, Hosted by Hanmudo Founder – Dr. He Young Kimm. This trip allowed Michael to train at the Kukkiwon – WTF Headquarters Seoul Korea, visit the Korean War Museum, take 2nd place for self-defense competition at the 3rd World Hapkido Games in Gwanju, visit and train with Buddhist Monks (very rigorous training!), visit a remote monastery, attend the Chinese Circus in Beijing, visit the Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square, The Forbidden City and much more.

Michael currently practices the healing art of Reiki and has trained in various martial arts systems including:

– Krav Maga

– Hapkido

– Yudo

– Aiki Jujitsu

– Brazilian Jujitsu

– Kumdo

Michael currently holds the rank Shodan under Master Leigh Rossi, at Checkmate Self Defense in Small Circle Jujitsu and the Checkmate Jujitsu system and was honored to receive the 2012 Jujitsu America Ohana award for his continued contribution to his Checkmate family.

Michael now teaches at Checkmate West in Aspen Colorado and will be greatly missed in NH between visits.


Sensei Rick Wolverton – Judo Instructor

Sensei Rick Woolverton

Sensei Rick Wolverton

Rick Woolverton began his formal instruction of Judo and Danzan Ryu JuJitsu in 1972 under the guidance of his father Jack Woolverton (Godan; 5th Degree Black Belt).

Rick actively competed in Judo at both the state and national levels and held the Florida Sunshine State Games title for his weight class for 3 years.

Rick currently hold the rank of 2nd Degree Black Belt in Judo and 2nd Degree Brown Belt in Jujitsu.


Sensei Pat Cassidy – Judo Instructor

Pat Cassidy-Judo Instructor

Pat Cassidy-Judo Instructor

Pat studied Judo under Mr Roy Kirk and later Mr Phil Relnick Sensei at the Peoria, IL YMCA Judo Club in the 1960’s and 70’s. As a junior judoka, under Mr Kirk’s instruction, Pat qualified for the 1969 Junior Nationals by placing 2nd in the Illinois pre-nationals.

In 2006 Pat returned to the martial arts and began training at Checkmate Self Defense under Sensei Leigh Rossi. Pat has been privileged to study judo under, and be promoted by, Professor Bill Chestnut Jr. and Sensei Rick Woolverton at Checkmate Martial Arts.

Pat holds the rank of Shodan in Judo, a Shodan in Small Circle Jujitsu with Sensei Rossi, and is the 2010 recipient of the Ohana award. Pat Cassidy is a certified Spontaneous Knife Defense Instructor for Law Enforcement and Security Professionals through PPCT (Pressure Point Control Tactics) now currently known as Human Factors Research Group/Warrior Science Group.

Pat Cassidy received 2011 Martial Arts Symposium Student Recognition award for his continued dedication to the martial arts.


Sensei Sean Carmack –  Judo Instructor

Sean Carmack

Sean Carmack-Judo Instructor

Sean began his training with Checkmate in 2007 under Master Leigh Rossi, Sensei Rick Woolverton. Sean has had consistent success over the years earning him many gold and silver medals in various tournaments including BJJ, Grappling, Stand-Up Judo and Ne-Waza competitions.
Sean currently holds the following ranks:
-Judo-Black Belt
-Small Circle Jujitsu-2nd Degree Brown
-Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu- Blue Belt

Sean continues to train, share his skill with others, and is an instrumental part of the Checkmate Judo Program


Professor Dave Castoldi – Guest Instructor

professor-castoldi

Professor Dave Castoldi – Guest Instructor

Professor Castoldi has over 32 years experience in a wide range of styles including, jujitsu, judo, kung fu, professional wrestling, and bare knuckles street fighting. He holds an 9th degree in jujitsu, a 1st degree in Karate, and a 5th degree in Judo. His instructors include Albert J. Castoldi, John Hogan, Master Win Chil Wu, and Professor Wally Jay.

  • New England Regional Director – Jujitsu America
  • 2005-Inducted into the WWKO (World Wide Karate Organization) Hall of Fame
  • 2005-Awarded Jujitsu America’s Distinguished Service Presidential Award
  • 2004-Awarded Jujitsu America’s Spirit of Kodenkan Memorial award in memory of Prof John Chow Hoon
  • 2002-Awarded Jujitsu America’s Wally Jay Award
  • 1998-Inducted by Shihan Rocky DiRico into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame
  • 1991-Inducted into the Zen Do Kai Hall of Fame
  • 1991-Inducted into the World Martial Arts Hall of Fame
  • 1991-Received Jujitsu America’s Outstanding Ambassador Award
  • 1988-Inducted into Jujitsu America’s Black Belt Hall of Fame
  • 1983-Jujitsu America Instructor of the Year
  • Founder of West Suburban YMCA Jujitsu School – 1974

Joe Sullivan – Guest Instructor

Joe Sullivan

Joe Sullivan – Guest Instructor

Joe Sullivan Assistant instructor 3rd degree Black Belt under Prof. Dave Castoldi with over 15 years of experience in Jujitsu and Karate. Joe Sullivan has trained under Otto Pozzo of One Step Beyond, Wally Jay, James Demile, and many other notable instructors affiliated with Jujitsu America.

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