Sensei Bettie (BJ Thomas) Vaughan began her martial arts career in 1971 at the Dravidian School of Self Defense and Karate under Sensei Russ Meeks, and her instructor Larry Tankson.
BJ had studied Tae Kwon Do under Master Kim of Chicago before becoming a student of Preston Baker. Under his and his brother Otis Baker tutelage^ honed her martial arts skills.
Traveling and competing throughout the Midwest with the Baker brothers, BJ became a notable competitor, being noted in martial arts magazines such as Black Belt, Official Karate, and Karate Illustrated.
In January 1977, BJ was awarded Shodan in Shorei Goju Ryu by the Bakers, thus becoming their first female black belt. BJ became the only female member of the Windy City Pros (full contact professional karate team).
In April 1977 she joined the military and was assigned to Munich Germany. During her stint in the military, she taught karate, and competed while traveling throughout Germany.
In 1985 while stationed in Bremerhaven, Germany BJ taught self defense and karate classes to children of active duty military and DOD civilians.
Today BJ trains and lives in San Antonio, Texas.