Since 1976

Promotions, Demos and Awards—March 25 marked the 2017 annual AKATO day of awards and festivities. The day started with examinations for second degree black belt. Impressive specialty demonstrations were shown by Ricardo Ponte, Fadi Khoury, Terry Heronime, and Ken Terrill. In a rare promotional event, Larry Wheeler was presented with a tenth degree black belt and Sam Perez with his eighth degree. Both men have had long and successful martial arts careers. Then Mark Lynn taught an Arnis stick fighting class that was enjoyed by all. Six AKATO teams demonstrated their routines with lots of action and up-tempo music. An awards luncheon was held where the AKATO schools got to give their Student of the Year Awards. Ginny Tyler of Disciples Making Disciples Tae Kwon Do of McKinney was presented the Instructor of the Year by Mr. Yates. See photos at the gallery page.
Katherine Weber–Cooper Karate
Mason Williams–North Texas Karate
Mark Harris–Axe Methodist Church Karate
Ryan Miller–Disciples Making Disciples
Justina Perez–Irma Rangel Karate Club
Eric Watson–Mike Bonstaff’s TKD, Louisiana
Becky White–Marudo Karate
Matthew Block–Cypress Martial Arts, Minnesota
Jerry D. Smith–Iss Hogai
Lauren CisneroHands On Karate
Nick Edwards–Denison Family Karate
Vidyuth SrinivasanPlano YMCA
Jihane Tahiri–Richardson YMCA
Kylie Downing–Alpha Self Defense
Pinak Parate–Alpha Self Defense
Brandon Lin–American Karate, Los Angeles

Don't forget the
BLACK BELT WORKOUTS on the third Saturday of the month at the Richardson YMCA from 12:30 to 2 pm (after the regular Saturday morning class for lower belts). You'll pay a five dollar fee to the YMCA as a donation to their scholarship fund.

Nam Seo Kwan black belts—The December 10 black belt promotion saw three young candidates earn their dan ranks in a demanding exam. Michael Khoury, Diego Rocha, and Kela Grotefend all achieved first degree black belt. Amazingly all three had parents who are also black belts (Fadi Khoury, Maria Rocha, and Dr. Julie Grotefend). Also on this exam were Andrew Poulton and Dr. Tom Pledger who both earned first brown belt. Congratulations. See the "photo page."

New Black Belts—Sam Perez and his Denison Family Karate hosted an AKATO black belt exam on November 19. Passing to first dan impressive fashion were Mateo Almazan, Rian Morris, Cecily Bradford and Savannah Bishop. Earning their second dan ranks were Nick Edwards and Tre White. Congratulations to all these outstanding martial artists. See photos on the "current photo" page.

"Totally Taekwondo" magazine publisher Stuart Anslow's Tul Tour in Korea 2018
Colin Wee reports that he is planning to go on the Tul Tour to Korea in April 2018. He says if anyone from AKATo is interested in going see more info at:

Keith Yates Inducted into Hall of Fame
Although Mr. Yates is in several Halls of Fame, this one is special. The Martial Arts History Museum in Los Angeles only inducts ten individuals every year (not 200 like some of those halls). This year was Pat Burleson: the first national karate champion (and an AKATO advisor), Gina Carano: MMA superstar turned Hollywood actor, George Chung: internationally known kata champion, Donn Draeger: author and historian, Pat Johnson: champion and one of Chuck Norris's first black belts, Pat Morita: Mister Miyagi from the Karate Kid movies, Steven Lopez: the first man to win an Olympic gold medal in taekwondo, Frank Shamrock: MMA legend, Gogen Yamaguchi (the "cat"): famous founder of the goji-kai in Japan, and our own Keith D. Yates, founder of the AKATO.
Mr. Yates traveled to Los Angeles in July to not only visit the MA History Museum but to attend the Dragonfest 2016. Here is who else was in this class of inductees. See more photos from Mr. Yates's California trip on the gallery page.
7/23/16 New Black Belts
After a tough exam the AKATO is proud to welcome new shodan ranks Amelia Poulton, Jonathan and Flor Castellanos, and Clay Servin. The new black belts wish to express their appreciation to all the instructors who helped them on this journey, including Keith Yates, Caroline Goodspeed, Tim Looney, Ysabel Mahout, Kathy Rhine, Ceaser Johnson, Steve Servin, and many more. See them on the "current photo" page.

See and order photographs from the 40th anniversary banquet at Lyman Roark's photo site (click below).

40th Year Anniversary a Huge Success!
The 40th anniversary of the American Karate And Tae Kwon Do Organization was celebrated on March 19, 2016 in grand style. Seminars included Larry Miller and his team from Memphis, Jon Alster from Los Angeles, Kelly Cox from Marudo Karate-Do, and Colin Wee all the way from Perth, Australia. Participants were enthralled to learn skills from these experienced teachers. The evening banquet featured a retrospective video of the last 4 decades of the organization from its earliest days as the Southwest Tae Kwon Do Association in the late 1970s. Special guests included Allen Steen (Mr. Yates's original instructor), Pat Burleson, Larry Wheeler, Bryan Robbins, and some of the other masters and grandmasters of the AKATO's past and present. Mr. Yates gave an inspiring talk on "Leadership in the Martial Arts" and the demonstrations were exceptional (thanks to Mike Proctor, Kelly Cox, Aaron Barnett and Don Oliver). Well will be posting the names of all the awards winners soon. In the meantime click on over to the photo gallery to see some pictures from the day.

Renbudo Karate Black Belt Promotions 1.9.2016
Mike Proctor's dojo at the Cooper Center hosted a large exam right after the new year.
First Dan: Jesse Hancock, James Battino, Shane Small, Sydney Palis
Third Dan: Frank Binford, Jon Binford, James Binford, Heath Coles, Daly Montgomery, Justin Richardson, Trent Small, Connie Tempesta
Fourth: Vivica McNeil, Gary Mays
Fifth: Ben Robles, Don Oliver
Eighth: Vince Ortiz, Tony Tempesta, Forrest Littlejohn, David Wollard, Mark Lynn

New Brown Belts 12.19.2015
Brown Stripe: Ruth DeLeon
3rd Brown Belt: Henry Reddick, Audrey Reed, Paige Reed, Maya Grotefend, Alvin Tang, Andrew Poulton, Rachel Clinger, Sophie Pledger, Sumeesha Gupta, Liane Buckley, Kevin Buckley.
2nd Brown Belt: Mateo Cisneros, Martin Davila, Aarash Zakeri, Alan Mejia.
1st Brown Belt: Nicholas Mooney, Kela Grotefend, Jose Flores, Mark Harris, Diego Rocha, Heidi Regier, Helene Regier, Noah Cisnero.
See photo on the gallery page.

New Black Belts 12.5.2015
After a very impressive examination at the Richardson, Texas YMCA, these outstanding students earned their first degree black belts. Alyssa McPhail, Lauren McPhail, Abbie Cisnero, Amiee Cisnero, Joel Jenkins, Julie Royal Grotefend, and Angel Perez. See the gallery page for photo.

2015 AKATO Championships
Almost 150 competitors from 17 schools help set a record for the 2015 AKATO Karate Championships held October 31, at the Richardson YMCA.


8 & Under White/Yellow
Xander James
Nate Joski
Nate Swindell

9-11 White/Yellow
Ethan Clinton
Aedan Culpepper
Skyler James

12-15 White/Yellow
Maria Villavicencio
Jihane Tahiri
Micah reeves

Adult White/Yellow
Jeffrey Limbacker
Tim Paluke
Kayshala Culpepper
Jorge Enderica

8 & Under Org/Pur
Francisco Rocha
Brady Servin
Maddee Berk

9-11 org/pur
Matthew Shugart
Syed Mustafa Sajjad
jasmine cloud
Jack servin

12-15 org/pur
Katherine Berkau
Caleb Berkau

Adult org/pur
Matt Berkau
Tim Meeks
Josh Berkau

8 & under grn/blue
Zack Kehoe
Addie Moore
Eli Stahr

9-11 grn/blue
Audrey Reed
Maya Grotefend
Sumeesha Gupta

12-15 grn/blue
Sophie Pledger
John "Trey" Berry
Calvin Todd III

Adult grn/blue
Ricky Hulkenberg
Rebecca White
Jeremy Ledesma
John Harris

8 & 9 brn
Cason Lanfear
Henry Oberg
Gavin Griggs

10-11 brn
Colton Rudder
Michael Khoury
Logan Kehoe
Rian Morris
Harrison Oberg

12-15 Brn
Angel Perez
Allysa McPhail
Kela Grotefend
Lauren McPhail

Adult brn
Naveed Papari
Julie Royal-Grotefend
James Battino
Joel Jenkins

Don Oliver for Mr Toney
Naveed Papari
Mike Burer
Nick Edwards

Jr Black Belt
Yair Or
Ricardo Ponte
Luke Sparlin
Layne Spradlin

Self defense
Ricardo Ponte
Nick Edwards


7 & Under White/Yellow
Nate Joski
Anastasia Grimm
Gavin Stahr

8 & 9 White/Yellow
Aedan Culpepper
Xander James

10 & 11 White/Yellow
Syed Mustafa Sajjad
Gabriel Enderica
Skyler James

12-14 Yel/Org
Caleb Berkau
Katherine Berkau
Maria Villavicencio

7 & Under Org/Pur
Francisco Rocha
Maddee Berk
Brady Servin

8&9 Org/Pur
Jasmine Cloud
Atiksh Chawla

7&8 grn/blue
Zach Kehoe
james Trimmell
Addie Moore
Jackson Buckley

9 grn/blue
Gabriel Nava
JaNessia Carhee
paige Reed
Gavin Griggs

10 & 11 grn/blue
Jovanni Arambula
Audrey Reed
Jordan Pierce
Zowie Todd

12-13 grn/blue
Calvin Todd
Cindy Salazar
Brandon Griffin
Ruth Deleon

7 - Under brown
Lillian Conroy
Charles Conroy

8&9 Brown
Cason Lanfear
Henry Oberg
Ayla Shohreh

10-11 brn
Logan Kehoe
Alan Mejia
Aarash Zakeri
Rian Morris

12-13 brn
Jonathan Castellanos
Grason Glidewell
Michael Berry
Diego Rocha

14-15 BOY grn/blue
John Berry
Aaron Luke

14-15 brn
Lauren McPhail
Noah cisnero
Angel Perez
David Borhanian

Women Yellow
Kayshala Culpupper
Gwyneth James

Men Yellow-Purple
Jorge Enderica
Tim Meeks
Matt Berkau
Joshua Berkau

Women grn/blue
Rachel Clinger
Lianne Buckley
Kristina Kelso

Women brn
Julie Royal-Grotefend
Helene Regier
Anne Whiteman
Heidi Regier

Men grn/blue
Henry Reddick
Kevin Buckley
Daniel Trimmell
Randy Shine

Men brn
Clay Servin
Naveed Papari
Jose Flores
Mark Harris

“Karate for the Cure” inspired by young black belt
“Karate for the Cure” is the inspiration of a young Black Belt student, Ryan Walton, whose goal is to make a contribution to the fight against breast cancer. Ryan, age 9, is bringing two local martial arts schools together with the Susan G. Komen Knoxville for this special fundraiser to raise funds to help patients locally and to fund breast cancer research. The instructors and students of the Samurai Dragons dojo in Farragut and Broadway Family Karate in Fountain City are working together to conduct this special “Karate for the Cure” workshop.

Ryan, a probationary Black Belt, was greatly touched when his aunt, Kim, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012, and underwent chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. “I
t touched him so deeply that he now wears pink with pride for her,” says Ryan’s mother, Kelli Walton. “He starts getting excited for Race for the Cure in about July every year. We walk in honor of my sister every year and I think it has instilled the mission in him that it is up to all of us to make a difference. He is very passionate about it.”

Ryan’s aunt, Kim, has been cancer-free in the years since.

This special martial arts/self-defense workshop is designed especially for women and girls, and will be led by Sheena Henderson of the Samurai Dragons dojo. Beginners are welcome – you don’t need to have any previous martial arts training to take part.

The workshop will focus on introducing you to a set of strong, practical self-defense fundamentals. Henderson Sensei is an experienced instructor who has studied karate as well as a number of traditional weapons, including the samurai sword. “I have had a long-time personal focus on making traditional techniques effective for female practitioners of the martial arts,” says Henderson. “We can practice effective self-defense by understanding and using our natural strengths and awareness.”

A $5 donation is suggested for all participants. Your donation will go to the Komen Knoxville. Please wear clothing you can move around comfortably in – a t-shirt and shorts or sweats should be just fine. All participants will receive a pink wrist band in recognition of their contribution.

“Karate for the Cure” will take place at Broadway Family Karate, 2902 Tazewell Pike, Suite J, Knoxville, TN. The school is in the Fountain City Business Park. The workshop will start at 10am on Saturday, October 17, and last until noon. To register please contact the school by phone at 688-0120, or by e-mail at

Welcome Lone Eagle Fighting Arts.
Steve Melton earned his black belt from Texas karate pioneer Danny Hale in 1971. Mr. Melton (now an 8th dan) is the owner and head instructor at Lone Eagle Fighting Arts in Richardson, Texas. Steve and his sons, Whitt and Wes, have trained with several outstanding instructors including Joy Turberville, Troy Dorsey and Duane Ethington. We welcome their school to the AKATO.

Click here for a viewable PDF.

On Saturday, April 18th, Duane Ethington held the Iss Hogai Jujitsu and TKD Upper belt test. Joining GM Ethington on the board were Grandmasters Mark and Mike Wiltfong, Masters David Arehart, Jason Wigley, and Yogi Ybarra plus black belts Chris Fowler, Candace Wigley, Desiree Day, Kenny Robbins, Joseph Ybarra.  Earning 7th Dan in both Jujitsu and Tae Kwon Do was Corey Grimm.  Jerry D. Smith earned his 6th Dan in Tae Kwon Do and Angel Montano, Bradley Jones and Lucas Castro all earned their first Dan in Iss Hogai Jujitsu.  It was an energetic and spirited test!

Marudo Karate Belt Exam
April 19. Kelly Cox reports he was honored to have Mike Proctor Sensei on the board for the examination. Afterward the students received wonderful feedback and inspiration from his insight.
Promoted were:
Tim Paluk - Hachikyu Connie Tempesta - Shichikyu Dave Burford - Gokyu Randy Shine - Gokyu Becky White - Gokyu Jeremy Hulkenberg - Gokyu Jeremy Ledesma - Yonkyu John Harris - Yonkyu Ricky Hulkenberg - Yonkyu Lyman Roark - Nikkyu Casper Winge - Nikkyu Naveed Papari - Nikkyu

All the AKATO students excelled on their Brown Belt examination on March 28, 2015.
See photo on the Gallery Page.
Making brown stripe: Maya Grotefend, Alvin Tang, Andrew Poulton, Paige Reed, Audrey Reed, Katherine Rodgers.
Earning third brown belt: Aarash Zakeri, Martin Davila, Rabab Khoury, Hannah Regier, Alan Mejia, Mateo Cisnero.
Passing to second brown belt: Kela Grotefend, Helene Regier, Nick Mooney, Isaac Guerra, Nelson Flores, Jose Jackes, Arman Ansari, Noah Cisnero, Deigo Rocha.
Earning First Brown Belt: Michael Khoury, Amelia Poulton, Flor Castellanos, Jonathan Castellanos.
We are proud of all these outstanding young martial artists.

On the weekend of March 20 and 21, the AKATO held it’s 39th annual seminars and awards banquet. Our out-of-town guests from Memphis, Knoxville and Rochester (MN) meet with Mike Proctor and Keith Yates and several local AKATO black belts for the usual Friday evening workout. On Saturday over 50 students benefited from seminars by Mr. Proctor (tai chi) and Mark Lynn (Modern Arnis). SEE SOME PHOTOS OF THE SEMINARS ON THE GALLERY PAGE. That evening almost 160 AKATO instructors, students and guests met at the Empire Room near downtown Dallas for an exciting banquet featuring video clips from the AKATO Dragon Demo Team that went to Washington DC in 1995, and as a special treat a roundtable discussion on the history and philosophy of the martial arts from Mr. Yates, Mr. Proctor, Duane Ethington, Mark Lynn and Kelly Cox.
Hidden Sword
Dylan Serralta (arnis)
Kimberly Wang (tkd)
Alpha McKinney
Cole Adams (rich)
Michael Hernandez (mck)
American Karate (CA)
Jack Hardacre
Cooper Center
James Battino/Shane Small
Denison Family Karate
Luke Sparlin
Garland Y
Flor Castellanos
Richardson Y (Tue)
Sumeesha Gupt
Sophie Pledger
Richardson Y (Sat)
James and Theresa Trimmell
Lake Highlands Y
Ricardo Ponte
Julie Grotefend
Plano Y
Aakash Bhagvathi
Hands On Karate
Mateo Cisnero
Iss Hogai
Chris Fowler
NT Karate
Lance Spradlin
Marudo Karate
John Harris
Contender MA (TN)
Greg Post
Logan Dudley
Aaron Barnett
Layne Spradlin (NT)
Marissa Straus (CC)
Gaberial Nava (HS)
Jack Hurst (HS)
Nick Edwards (DFK)
Coltan Rudder (NT)
Christopher Jessup (NT)
Angel Montano (IH)
Rian Morris (DFK)
Jack Servin (RY) Julia Jones (HS)
Cason Lanfear (NT)
Ronald Moriera (IH)
Kaitlyn Wang (HS)
Tabatha Whapham

And stay tuned for information on next year’s 40th celebration. We have already set the date for MARCH 19, 2016.

After an impressive performance these four proudly earned their black belts in Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do on March 7, 2015. Fadi Khoury and Yair Or from the Richardson, Texas YMCA; Ricardo Ponte from the Lake Highlands YMCA; and Justin Davis (who earned an “excellent” on his test) from Mrs. Merhout’s Hands On Karate in Garland, Texas. Congratulations to these outstanding martial artists. See photos on the Gallery Page.

We are proud to announce the
black belt promotions from December 13. Promoted to second degree black belt were Tabitha Whapham, Eric McMurry and Steve Servin. Earning their third degree were Jeff Shumaker, Rob Whapham, and John Patterson. Fourth dan promotions were Ysabel Merhout, Kathy Rhine and Lee Washburn. Going to master level fifth dan were Aaron Barnett, Ceaser Johnson, Tim Looney, Clarissa Rumphs, and Lyman Roark. Thomas Merhout was promoted to sixth degree black belt, Caroline Goodspeed to seventh degree and Kelly Cox to the eighth degree. A very special and rare promotion was made to Duane Ethington who was elevated to the rank of tenth degree black belt. Mr. Ethington has taught for almost five decades and is still training and passing along his knowledge at the age of 77. Congratulations to all of these outstanding martial artists. See some photos from the examination on the Gallery Page.