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About Us

Re-named the Tallest Tree Cuong Nhu Center years ago, our dojo has been known since the earliest days of Cuong Nhu simply as "The Center". Our original dojo was chosen to honor the memory of Grand Master Ngo Dong, whose name in Vietnamese means "Tallest Tree." Grand Master Dong employed this school as his martial arts headquarters for more than 20 years, and from here the style grew to encompass over 70 schools throughout the United States and overseas. In August of 2016 we moved from the original location on University Avenue due to the planned demolition of the building. However, Tallest Tree Dojo still lives on. Our current training still embodies the spirit of all who loved and worked out in the old dojo.

About Cuong Nhu

Grandmaster Ngo Dong

The Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association is a federally recognized non-profit educational organization. Cuong Nhu is a martial art that blends the basic elements of a number of different styles. Cuong Nhu has its roots in Shotokan Karate and combines aspects of Aikido, Judo, Wing Chun, Vovinam, Tai Chi Chuan, and Boxing. It is this blending of hard and soft styles from which Cuong Nhu (pronounced Kung New) derives its name, which is Vietnamese for Hard (Cuong) - Soft (Nhu). Cuong Nhu was brought to the United States in 1971, when Grandmaster Ngo Dong came to the University of Florida to earn his Ph.D. While there he founded the Cuong Nhu Karate Club. This club quickly grew into the largest intramural club on campus, with over two hundred students participating. Our previous location, the Center, was then established in Gainesville to serve people of all ages outside the university community.

The headquarters of the style was originally relocated to Gainesville Florida in 1977, following a daring escape from Vietnam by Ngo Dong and his family. Many of the early students from these schools went on to establish their own Cuong Nhu dojos after leaving Gainesville, thus spreading the style all over the United States and around the world. Grandmaster Ngo Dong was succeeded by his son, Grandmaster Quynh Ngo as the Head of Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts. The Cuong Nhu World headquarters is now permanently located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Meet our Instructors

Denise Guerin

Godan, Co-Head of School

I started my training in Cuong Nhu with Sensei Carolyn Frazier in 1983. I earned my Black Belt in 1987, Shodan in 1988, Nidan in 1991, Sandan in 1997, Yondan in 2007 and Godan in 2013. Senseis Howie Milwich and Karen Keisling have also played an integral part in my training as well as many other great senseis too numerous to mention. I moved to Gainesville in 1975 to go to school and graduated with a BS in Wildlife Ecology in 1980 and a MS in Botany (with a Soils minor) in 1988. I currently teach Biology and Ecology at Santa Fe Community College. I'm married to Sensei Ron Thomas and we have twin daughters, Kelly and Elena Thomas.

Ron Thomas

Sandan, Co-Head of School

I began training in Cuong Nhu in 1983. I earned my black belt in 1988, Shodan in 1989, Nidan in 1994 and Sandan in 2007. My primary instructors were Sensei Carolyn Frazier and Master Ngo Dong. I owe a debt of gratitude to many other senseis who have helped me, including Karen Keisling, Howie Milwich, Ulysses Ellis, my wife Denise Guerin, and all the instructors at Cypress School and the Center (now Tallest Tree), past and present. There are many things to enjoy about Cuong Nhu - the family atmosphere, the variety and quality of techniques - but the thing I like the most is to teach Cuong Nhu, at any rank.

Mike Chriss


I had my first experience with Cuong Nhu in 1974 when I got my first green stripe at the age of 23. I always knew I wanted it to be an integral part of my life. After a leave of absence, I returned in 2001 when I was 47 with my 11 year old daughter, Simone. It was a great experience for us to train together for four years. Since then, I have continued my training and have obtained the rank of Nidan. Throughout my training in Cuong Nhu, I have had the invaluable opportunity to train with Master Thu, Master Jason, and Master Ulysses along with and still under Ron Thomas and Denise Guerin.

Ralph Kuntz


I started my Cuong Nhu training at the Cypress Dojo in 1980 when I transferred to the University of Florida in my junior year. After completing my undergraduate studies and starting graduate school, I moved my training to the Cuong Nhu World Headquarters (“Center”) in downtown Gainesville and trained under Grandmaster Quynh and Master Anh. I earned my black belt during the Summer 1985 and my Shodan about 6 months later. While living in New Jersey, I established the Shojin Dojo. I moved back to Gainesville where I still live today with my wife Jamie and our four dogs. I am a retired physician and semi-retired software engineer.

Get Started!

Classes are $60/month

Tuesday:  6:00pm - 7:00pm
Thursday:  6:00pm - 7:00pm
Friday:  6:00pm - 8:00pm

This price is only for monthly tuition dues. It does not include additional costs such as annual organizational dues, a uniform, sparring gear, mouth guards, or training weapons. These additional items can be purchased as needed. For your first class, please wear comfortable athletic attire that you would stretch and or excercise in. For any additional information, feel free to call us at 352-213-2468 or by emailing We hope to see you soon!

Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association

Our Style

Founded by Grandmaster Dong Ngo in 1965 in Hue, Vietnam, Cuong Nhu is a unique system of martial arts. Our curriculum covers a wide variety of techniques, from striking and kicking to locking, throwing, and weapons. Today, the Cuong Nhu Oriental Martial Arts Association has grown into a federally recognized, non-profit, educational organization.

Stay Connected

Follow us on either Facebook to get the latest information regarding the dojo. The Cuong Nhu YouTube channel also has many helpful videos regarding the style and training.



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