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We are proud to be part of the IMA Family, dedicated to teaching Shotokan Karate, a traditional Japanese Martial Art. We offer classes to children and adults of all abilities and levels.

IMA Utah is a family owned dojo that is run by Shihan Marius and his two sons, Nicolae and Elijah.

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Owner and Chief Instructor
Shihan Marius Gilca - 7th Degree Black Belt

Shihan Marius Gilca, chief instructor of IMA Utah, was born in Brasov, Romania in 1970. He started karate at age 13 and received his 1st degree black belt at age 19. He currently holds a 7th degree black belt in Shotokan after 40 years of training and is a certified USA Karate Referee. With over 30 years of teaching experience, teaching certificates from the Romanian Minister of Education and Sport along with 2 year certification from the Romanian Karate Federation, Shihan Marius is well educated in karate and teaching karate. Five years of his time in Romania he spent teaching Martial Arts to the Romanian Military Police which gave him diversity in teaching more than just karate. Sponsored by the Romanian Minister of Education and Sport along with various corporate sponsors, Sensei Marius also traveled Europe competing professionally for over 10 years earning several European titles. Shihan Marius came to the US in 1999 when he was offered a job as a karate instructor for a Florida University, after which he moved to Utah to pursue further career opportunities. He joined the IMA organization in June 2007 after searching for a family orientated organization with a great structured program. Shihan Marius’ teaching philosophy is to help students become better people through martial arts by helping them develop a stronger and healthier mind and body. With two locations in the Salt Lake Valley, Shihan Marius, along with his two boys, are working hard to grow their studios and to expand their IMA family.


Senpai Nicolae Gilca - 2nd Degree Black Belt

​Nicolae started karate when he was 3 years old. Since he was 5, he has been training 4-6 days a week at the IMA of Utah Honbu Dojo. He has competed in many tournaments such as the USA NKF National Championship, US Open, Junior International Cup, IMA Utah Championship, Utah State Championship and the Rocky Mountain Championship. Being on the podium in all of these competitions has helped to push him towards reaching his ultimate goal of going to the olympics.


Nicolae has a passion for not only practicing karate, but also helping the students that practice the art as well. He enjoys teaching students and helping them to be the best person they can be through karate. He also likes to have fun with the students while he teaches the students.


When Nicolae is not practicing or teaching karate, he enjoys playing tennis, drawing and playing soccer with his brother Elijah. He also likes to swim and was on the Cottonwood Heights Aquatics Team and competed at the Utah State Championship. He is also in the French Immersion program at school and studies Spanish as an elective. Nicolae is a very good and respectful student and loves to play sports and be active.

Kohai Elijah Gilca - 1st Degree Black Belt

Elijah started karate at age 3 and he has trained ever since. Elijah is now 14 years old. He is very passionate about helping students to get better not only at karate, but help them develop their mind and their body. Elijah loves doing karate and is very talented. His motivation to work hard comes from competition. He enjoys competing and attends all ranges of tournaments from local to national to international. Elijah is ranked #3 in the USA after his recent bronze in Elite Kumite and ranked #5 in the USA in Elite Kata at Nationals in 2022. His goal is to get on the USA National Team to be able to compete in the Pan American Championships and the Junior World Championships.

Outside of the dojo, Elijah loves doing other sports like playing tennis and he likes being active. Elijah also likes to travel to new places and to spend his time outdoors.

Academically, he is in 9th grade and is excelling in high school with a 4.0 GPA. He is good at learning new languages and has been studying French for nine years and Spanish for four years. His favorite subjects are art and math. Overall, Elijah is a very bright and athletic young man.



Questions‭? ‬Feel free to reach out to Shihan Marius Gilca.

Dojo Tel: 801-983-5262

Main Dojo Address: 2258 E. Fort Union Blvd B7-8 Cottonwood Heights, UT 84121

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