Martial arts star high-kicks into Cayman

If your kids are fans of martial arts or the 2014 remake of the movie “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” then they will kick themselves if they miss out on seeing one of their favorite characters, Master Splinter, aka Matt Emig, when he arrives in Cayman next week to wow them with the “tricks” of the trade. 

Bob Daigle, master instructor at the Cayman Karate Academy, with the help of Cayman’s business community, has arranged for the martial arts star to lead free introductory classes for kids who are interested in learning about the discipline. He will also offer seminars to existing Karate Academy students, as well as provide a free martial arts demonstration at the Crescent at Camana Bay. Emig will be accompanied by Extreme Forms World Champion martial artist and stunt woman Nikki Stanley, who will also teach and demonstrate her skills. 

“We are really excited to have Matt and Nikki here in the Cayman Islands,” Daigle said. “With the recent release of the latest Ninja Turtles movie in Cayman, interest is at an all-time high for Matt’s visit.  

“Our goal is to inspire our students to reach higher levels in martial arts and in life.” 

Although Emig may be best known to kids as the character Master Splinter (he performed all of the martial arts moves for the Ninja Turtles movie via CGI technology), the 27-year-old Long Island native is a world champion (multiple times) in martial arts, with an impressive resume. 

Emig became enamored with martial arts at age five as a fan of the original Ninja Turtles movie and franchise. His parents signed him up for karate lessons and by age 10 he had earned a black belt and was a national competitor in the North American Sport Karate Association. From ages 10 to 18, he developed into a world-renowned forms and weapons competitor, winning more than 100 grand championships and 42 world titles.  

Emig is also considered an innovator in the martial arts scene, constantly introducing new approaches for arranging technical and artistic elements with precision and flare. For example, he has revolutionized the use of nunchucks in weapons competition, creating a style all his own that blends complicated manipulations and acrobatics. Nunchucks are a traditional Okinawan martial arts weapon consisting of two sticks connected at one end by a short chain or rope. One of the most influential and iconic martial artists of all time, Bruce Lee, used nunchucks in many of his films from the ‘70s. 

Emig is also a pioneer of martial arts tricking, which is a contemporary subculture that fuses acrobatic kicks and gymnastics. He explains that it is considered an extreme martial arts form.  

“It’s a fusion of Tae Kwon Do, Capoeira, Wushu, gymnastics and break-dancing all in one. There are a lot of kicks, flips and twists. It’s a performance-based martial arts,” Emig said. 

Emig incorporates “tricking” in his own sport karate completion and performance team, Team Emig, which is comprised of the four top junior competitors on the circuit. Additionally, as an in-demand instructor, Emig teaches more than 100 workshops around the world, coaching many world champions. The martial arts wonder also has his own line of instructional DVDs and signature nunchucks.  

“I am known for doing nunchucks, and my signature kick is a ‘900 double,’ which is a jump-kick where you spin two-and-a-half times in the air, kicking on both spins,” he said. 

Emig has lived in North Hollywood, California, since 2010 to pursue his career in stunts and entertainment. His unique style and natural athleticism has enabled him to cross over into films, TV, music videos, commercials, live performances and print. Some of his credits include “The Voice,” “Glee,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “The Grammy Awards” and Disney’s “Kickin’ It.”  

His long-term goal is to be a stunt choreographer and stunt coordinator, and he is already working in the field. “The last two films I worked on were ‘Scouts vs Zombies’ and ‘The Finest Hours.’ For both, I did stunts. I enjoy being a stunt performer,” he said, adding, “I get paid to have fun and do what I love.” 


Nov. 21 – Introductory class with Matt Emig and Nikki Stanley at Cayman Karate Academy (at Best Life Training Centre). These classes are ideal for children who don’t currently train in martial arts but would like to give it a try. Parents who are interested in having their child try karate should contact [email protected] to reserve, since space is limited.  

  • 3:30 – 4 p.m. Ages 3-5  
  • 4 – 4:45 p.m. Ages 6-8 
  • 4:45 – 5:30 p.m. Ages 9 and up.  


Nov. 22 – A free martial arts demonstration on the Crescent at Camana Bay right before the Christmas Lighting ceremony. Demos will be provided by Emig and Stanley, as well as locals Flow-Motion Parkout and Freerunning Team and the Cayman Karate Academy children’s demo team. 4:30 – 5 p.m.  

Demo will include:  

  • Cayman Karate Academy’s children’s demo team: forms, weapons, board-breaking and self–defense 
  • Flo-Motion Team: acrobatic tricks and kicks on the Air-Track 
  • Nikki Stanley: weapons and kicking 
  • Matt Emig: double nunchucks and forms with spectacular acrobatic tricks.  


Matt Emig will be available for autographs and pictures after the seminars and demos, but please note, he will not be in a Master Splinter costume. 


Extreme Forms World Champion Nikki Stanley will accompany Matt Emig to Cayman next week.


Matt Emig kicks into action.


Martial artist and stunt woman Nikki Stanley


World champion martial artist Matt Emig


Matt Emig has revolutionized the use of nunchucks in weapons competition, creating a style all his own.

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