Thomas Knowles is the Director of Fencing and Martial Arts at Collierville Arts Academy. Coach Knowles is the Vice Chairman of the USA Fencing Tennessee Division. He has been teaching people how to wield weapons since 1991 and he estimates that he has probably taught more than 3,000 people how to fence over the years. He conducts the martial arts, historical padded weapons, stuntfighting, and modern fencing programs for young and mature, male and female students.
As an Adjunct Professor at the University of Memphis, Coach Knowles teaches the for-credit Modern Fencing Class and a for-credit Padded Weapons class. He is a member of the US Fencing Association, US Fencing Coaches Association, and the US Chanbara Federation.
Coach Knowles also actively competes in the Modern Fencing arena. In March 2011, he won 1st place in Foil and Epee in the Tennessee Division Fencing Championship, qualifying to compete in the annual US National Fencing Championships in July 2011. At the 2011 US Nat Fencing Championships, Mr. Knowles strove mightily over four days of intense fencing, attaining his best results to date: 12th in the nation in Division II Men's Epee, 8th in the nation in Division III Men's Epee, 15th in the nation in Veteran's 40 Men's Foil, and 5th in the nation in Veteran's 40 Men's Epee.
At the high school and middle school levels, Coach Knowles is seeking to develop Fencing as a viable and popular youth sport in the MidSouth region. He is the Fencing Coach for the Tennessee State Epee Team Champions: Christian Brothers High School (Memphis) as well as coach of the fencing programs for St. George's School in Collierville, TN, and the Memphis Home Education Association (MHEA).
Sensei Knowles oversees the Martial Arts classes at CAA. These include the Little Tigers and Tigers Karate Programs and the Samurai Academy™ Padded Weapons Program. He has a personal belief that within each of us is an inner hero that is normally dormant but accessible should the need arise. Developing the attributes and abilities that enable the proper and just activation of the hero-persona is not a common pursuit in a contemporary society of quick-fixes and 'give-it-to-me-now' mindsets. Sensei Knowles seeks to provide opportunities to reveal and release the inner hero within each of us in the hopes that the world can thereby become a better place. It is his personal opinion that there are already plenty of villains.
Mr. Knowles may often be found in the community demonstrating the historical authenticity and modern concepts that make up fighting with an edged weapon. Past public appearances have included:
The Collierville Fair on the Square
University of Memphis: Don Giovanni, Fight Choreographer
Comcast Fun Day
Westminster Academy: Demo
St George's School: Demo
Sheraton Casino: as Robin Hood
Pink Palace Museum: Demo
Woodland Presbyterian Day School: Demo
Macon Hall Elementary School : Demo
Presbyterian Day School : Demo
Grace-St. Luke's Canterbury Festival: Demo
Malco Theatres: as Zorro
Southaven, MS Public Library: Demo
Memphis University School for Boys: Demo
Lausanne Collegiate School: Demo
The National Ornamental Metal Museum: Demo
Colonial Hills Church: Sermon Demo
As co-owner of Collierville Arts Academy, Mr. Knowles also teaches music arts programs as well as the sword arts. As a musician he has played piano, french horn, trumpet, and guitar. After studying classical guitar under John Stover and then Lily Afshar at the University of Memphis, Mr. Knowles earned a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis on Recording Technology. Also, he has served locally as a music director and worship leader at several local churches and is a Christian singer and songwriter.
Mr. Knowles has worked as a recording engineer in the music industry, a staff member at WKNO public television, a video editor for commercial production houses, and editor for FOX news. His theatre background is extensive and includes work on productions for high schools, colleges, and universities. He has also worked in outdoor theatre with productions of Blue Jacket and Annie Get Your Gun in Xenia, Ohio.
He feels truly blessed to be married for almost twenty-five years to an incredible lady and is the father of four exceptional children.