About Us 2018-03-19T12:10:46+00:00



Head Instructor

Renshi Michael Bunton

I began my official martial arts training in 1993 studying the styles of Muay Thai kickboxing and Brazilian Jujitsu obtaining a black belt in a system the instructor composed.  I began teaching classes prior to making black belt asking to help out however I could.  Teaching became a big part of my learning process, and this is something I pass along to my students as well.

1997 began my study with American Open Karate (Shuri-ryu) and obtained the rank of 3rd dan (Third degree black belt).  American Open Karate finds its roots in Okinawan Shuri-te (karate) which was brought to America by Robert Trias, founder of Shuri-ryu.

In 2000 I began to study Kung Fu and obtained black belt certifications in Chang Quan (Northern Fist) and Nan Quan (Southern Fist) contemporary Wushu, and went on to learn and incorporate Praying Mantis Kung Fu, Taizu Chang Quan, Eighteen-Arhats Boxing Kylin Fist, Tai Chi (Omei water style and Chen style) and the many weapons systems that go along with these arts.

Other certifications I hold are in Escrima, Arnis, and Kali.

At Phoenix we teach all these systems in a curriculum we call Take Nami Do.

In 2001 I became a certified Level 2 ropes course facilitator and facilitator trainer for Iredell County Recreation Department and currently with Challenge Towers Aerial Adventure as well.  In 2005 I joined the team of Competitive Edge as a Global Leadership Developer.  Experiential learning and helping to challenge individuals and teams in physical and metal growth has greatly impacted the way I instruct.  This is why we feel we are the best martial arts school around!

It is my hope and desire to pass my lessons on to my students so they may better themselves as a whole and to understand how to use the martial arts as a tool for conflict resolution inside as well as outside.

In my experience a true master is always a student.  There is a quote I like to use to represent this.  “Seek those who seek the truth, avoid those who have found it.”  The path to perfection is an endless one, and as such I continue to learn as well.

Renshi Michael Bunton

Elena Bunton

Siji- Lead Instructor/Lead Instructor

Elena Bunton is the Office Manager and Lead Instructor at Phoenix Martial Arts.  She has been training with Renshi Michael Bunton since 1997.  Her experience in office management helps Phoenix Martial Arts to maintain an excellent level of productivity and efficiency.

“I began training in the martial arts initially for self-defense and protection.  As I progressed I began to understand that it brought much more than that to my life such as calmness and clarity.  The training for me was somewhat difficult and broken up at times since I had my daughter but no matter the hurdle I always found that I would come back with a desire to learn.  It’s so important especially for women to be able to defend themselves and I think some of the lessons you get from martial arts is not only that you can feel more secure but you also become more aware of surroundings and learn to avoid danger before it escalates to a potential threat.  Since receiving my first degree black belt in April 2014 I’ve felt such a sense of achievement but I also understand the path to learning never stops.”

Amaya Bunton


Amaya began her training as part of the preschool class in 2006.  She is the daughter of Renshi Michael and Siji.  Since then she has escalated in rank first as an assistant instructor and now as an instructor.  Amaya received her adult first degree black belt rank in January 2018.

“I was born into martial arts so I really didn’t have a choice whether I would practice or not.  I really liked doing it though and after awhile I saw people in higher belt ranks which made me determined to achieve that goal.  When I received my instructor rank it became more about helping other students to achieve the goals I had met and not just for my own advancement.  As a black belt instructor I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot of the goals I set out to meet while at the same time I know there’s so much more to strive for.  I believe it is good to better yourself but at the same time our school is a martial arts family and family tries to better each other.”

Sam Garrett


I began taking martial arts from Renshi Mike when I was about 9 years old.  At the time, I had zero experience and had no idea that I was about to begin a journey that would quickly become a passion of mine and a major influence in my life.  It didn’t take long before I was begging my parents to take me to every class that I could attend.  Once the school began to gain more students, I was fortunate enough to begin assisting Renshi with newer students.  This was a great learning experience for me.  The added responsibility gave me a greater sense of self and the interactions with younger students gave me another passion: teaching martial arts. I love to learn new things from the martial arts, and I love to see another student overcome each new challenge he or she faces. Earning the rank of black belt was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.  I am so thankful to be part of this martial arts family and I miss you all while I’m away at school.

Caleb Veach


I initially picked up martial arts as a hobby. It was my parents idea to start enrolling me in classes on a trial basis so that I could find a sport that I actually enjoyed. As a kid I struggled athletically, mostly because I found no interest in the sports that I got into. When I started taking taekwondo classes with my friend I honestly did not see myself making it very far in the sport. The classes felt a bit stale so I ended up moving to a different instructor. This is when I met Renshi Mike Bunton and his family, and the rest is history. I have been attending his classes for the past 14 years and have loved every class I have been to. Throughout the years I learned martial arts to be much more like a life style than a hobby because of the important virtues that Renshi and Siji infused into their lessons. First and foremost I learned how to practically defend myself, but I also developed a healthy respect myself and an even greater respect for those around me. Additionally, I learned to take pride in building my skill so that would invest much more into it and glean much more out of it. Through the years I eventually learned how to be an effective leader and how to work well with the kids. I see this as one of my most important developments because of the enormous role it played in shaping the steps I made towards becoming a man. In short, I have loved my time at Pheonix Martial Arts and I am looking forward to the many more years that will come.

Josiah Southern


I started martial when I was three years old. Since then, I have loved it. I became an instructor at a young age when I received my purple belt. I love teaching martial arts to the kids. I received my junior black belt when I was eleven and my adult black belt when I was fourteen. I love doing martial arts and learning new material. Martial arts has highly affected everything else in my life. It has taught me to defend myself and stay focused and disciplined.