Grand Master Ajay
Michael Ajay is a native of Sacramento and is a graduate of Sacramento High School, Class of 1973. He grew up in an area of Sacramento that was not at all kid-friendly, living in a small apartment with his family just off K Street. On March 31, 1966, at the age of 10 he started his martial arts career. At a time when children were discouraged from participating in martial arts he was considered a child prodigy. Grand Master Ajay’s exceptional learning ability earned him his black belt at the age of 13. He started teaching students immediately upon receiving his black belt. In 1981 he opened Ajay’s Karate Academy – becoming one of the martial arts pioneers in Sacramento – opening one of the very few Taekwondo schools in the area at that time. He has attained his 5th Degree Master level in Tang Soo Do, and 8th Degree Grand Master level in Taekwondo. He celebrated his 50th year of martial arts training March 31, 2016.
Throughout his long career Grand Master Ajay has earned a number of accomplishments which have earned him the honor of being inducted into the Taekwondo Hall of Fame. Other accomplishments include: Member of the United States team participating in the 1st World Taekwondo Championships in Seoul, Korea in May 1973 (he was the youngest team member); American Taekwondo Association National Champion in 1983 and 1984. He retired from competition in 1984 because there was not a Master’s Division. In 1993 a Master’s Division was created, so once again he competed and won the Taekwondo World Championships in the Masters Division in 1993. He retired from competition after that.
Today Grand Master Michael Ajay resides in Elk Grove with his wife Lydia. Together they own and operate Ajay’s Karate. Michael is one of the few (and maybe the only) Grand Masters who still teaches all of his students from white belt on. He has students from age 4 up to 60+, and black belts up to 5th degree. Throughout his career, Grand Master Ajay has taught students of all ages and has helped hundreds become tournament champions, and has had students who have earned National Champion status. Every student benefits from his teachings.
As a professional, Grand Master Ajay continues his career by giving the best instruction in traditional martial arts along with its intrinsic and life-skill values to all of his students; yet he continues to train and hone his own skills to this day. After so many years in the martial arts why would Grand Master Ajay continue teaching and training at the rigorous pace he does? “I love this art … It’s in my blood.” he says.
1966 Began his training in Taekwondo at the age of 10
1969 Received his 1st Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo at the age of 13
1973 qualified for the United States Taekwondo Team in Dallas Texas
1973 Made history in competing in the first World Taekwondo Championships on the U.S. team in Seoul, Korea
1975 National AAU Taekwondo Silver Medalist – Yale University
1976 Pacific AAU Taekwondo Grand Champion – University California Berkeley
1981 Opens Ajay’s Karate Academy – Sacramento, CA
1983 Made the Top 14 in the 39th Annual Sacramento Union Athlete of the Year Award
1983 National American Taekwondo Association Champion
1984 National American Taekwondo Association Champion
1984 Highlighted in Karate Illustrated Magazine
1985 Magazine cover for ATA Magazine (professional Taekwondo publication)
1993 World Taekwondo Champion, Master’s Division – Little Rock Arkansas
2001 Made the Sacramento Bee Top 100 Sacramento Athletes of All Time list at #50 (listed above Pete Ranzany who was listed at #55)
2002 Received his 5th Degree in Tang Soo Do
2007 Inaugurated into the World Taekwondo Hall of Fame
2012 Received his 8th Degree in Taekwondo
2016 Celebrated 35 years owning and operating Ajay’s Karate Academy
2016 Celebrated 50 years in martial arts
Over the years Grand Master Michael Ajay has been featured in many newspaper articles for the Sacramento Bee, the Sacramento Union, and many other martial arts publications. He has also been featured in numerous television news interviews and appearances.
His competition career spanned 16 years in the black belt division (but 19 overall since his first competition was at white belt level), with over 300 tournaments across the United States and in Korea.