Since 1976

PLEASE NOTE: Those listed here are PAID UP and CURRENT Dan (black belt) members. If your name is not here please contact us about renewing your AKATO membership.
Master instructors and black belts with their own classes include brief bios.
Please see
"Styles and Family Trees" for a listing of ALL Black Belts promoted by AKATO sanctioned schools and systems.


Jhoon G. Rhee Although not officially an AKATO member, Grandmaster Rhee must be listed here because he is the "great-grandfather" of the AKATO. He introduced America to the Korean martial arts when he came to Texas in 1956. Recognized by Black Belt magazine as the "Father of Tae Kwon Do in America" his many innovations (such as sparring equipment and musical forms) have changed the face of the martial arts in the United States and around the world. An instructor to many leaders in the U.S. government (including senators, congressmen and cabinet officials) he passed away in 2018. See jhoonrheetkd.com

AKATO ADVISORS


Allen R. Steen was the first black belt of Grandmaster Rhee on American soil. Mr. Steen is known as the "Father of Texas Blood and Guts Karate" and could also be called the "Grandfather of the AKATO,” since he was Mr. Yates' original teacher. He is a former International Karate Champion (he beat both Joe Lewis and Chuck Norris in a single evening in 1966) and a trainer of many national champions. Grandmaster Steen was one of the first martial arts business entrepreneurs building a chain of schools across the Southwest in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As Mr. Yates’s teacher he is a valued advisor to the AKATO.


J. Pat Burleson
is another advisor and instructor of Mr. Yates, Grandmaster Burleson became the first National Karate Champion in 1962 by winning the U.S. Nationals in Chicago. A well-known teacher and trainer, Mr. Burleson has given several AKATO seminars sharing his wealth of knowledge with us. See karateUSA.com



Keith D. Yates, our founder and president, is an internationally known author and teacher. See about Keith D. Yates.


DAN MEMBERS
The following list of
CURRENT (paid-up) AKATO member Black Belts is in alphabetical order. Their current rank is in parentheses. If you are a currently paid-up AKATO member and your name is not listed here please contact us.



Jon Alster
(7) Mr. Alster started his training in high school in Virginia. Moving to Texas to attend SMU, Mr. Alster started training with Keith Yates in 1980. He has trained with many AKATO instructors including Bryan Robbins and Mike Proctor. Mr. Alster taught at his own school in California for many years before coming back to Texas in 2018.
John Bain (5: Kickstart, 10: Kenpo) Mr. Bain teaches in the Philippines.
Aaron Barnett (6) Mr. Barnett assists in several AKATO classes in the Dallas area.
Judy Barnett (2)
Mike Bilderbeck (1)
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Bobby Blakey (6) Mr. Blakey has travelled all over the world training and teaching. See his Facebook Page.
Drusilla Blakey (2)
Mike Bonstaff (8) Mr. Bonstaff teaches at his school in Drestrehan, LA
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Tom Booker Mr. Booker owns Broadway Family Karate in Knoxville, Tennesse
Jackie Bradbury (2)
Kate Bradbury
(1)
Liane Buckley (2)
Kevin Buckley (2)
Daniel Cohen (1)

Kelly Cox (9) Master Cox is the founder of Marudo Karate-Do and teaches that system at his Richardson, Texas dojo. He began martial arts in 1973 under Master Hido Park, earning his 1st Dan in 1979 in Moo Duk Kwan. During the 1980s, he served as an instructor with the American Tae Kwon Do Association in Dallas. After affiliating with the AKATO in 1992, he has become one of our most sought-after instructors. He has earned a 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kobudo and was awarded his Master Instructor Certification in 2000. He teaches Technical Theater at J.J. Pierce High School in Richardson.
Cliff Dillehay (7) Master Dillehay teaches Kenpo Karate classes at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. He has won numerous competitions across the Southwest and is one of the most respected instructors of Kenpo in the country.
John Egan
(3)

Duane Ethington (10) After stint in Army Security Agency and a brief singing career with brother Hap, Mr. Ethington took up Tae Kwon Do at Allen Steen's TKI back in 1967. He is a member of the Living Legends of Sport Karate and the Texas Martial Arts Hall of Fame. Mr. Ethington also has penned many articles for martial arts magazines as well as written screen plays and has authored three books.

Caroline Goodspeed (8) Mrs. Goodspeed teaches classes at several locations in the Dallas area. She began her training in 1979 under Keith Yates at the Richardson YMCA to spend time with her daughter who was taking lessons. A certified instructor with the American Council of Martial Artists, she now teaches the Saturday classes at Richardson. She is the highest ranking woman in Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do. She is highly sought after as an instructor in women’s self-defense.
Alan Hammill (3)
Terry Heronime
(2)
Meg Hinkley
(1) Mrs. Hinkley is a well-respected instructor in women's rape prevention. She has taught throughout the North Texas area for several years and has served as a volunteer with the Dallas Rape Crisis Center.

Paul Hinkley (5) Mr. Hinkley started his martial arts career in Kyokushin Kai and made black belt under Mr. Yates in the late 1970s.He taught for a number of years at SMU and Richland College.
Niaal Holder (3)
Joshua Lay (3)

Ceasar Johnson (5) Mr. Johnson, a former US Army Drill Sergeant, has taught across North Texas. He won the 2010 AKATO Instructor of the Year Award.
Tony Kaufman (5)
Fadi Khoury (2)

Forrest Littlejohn (8) Mr. Littlejohn began his martial arts training in 1971 at Texas Karate Institute, under such martial arts greats as Kirby Fugate, Ronnie Cox, Demetrius Havanas, and Raymond McCallum. He has since earned black belts in American Tae Kwon Do, Karate, and Kenpo. Mr. Littlejohn teaches Kenpo, Tai Chi, and women's self-defense at various locations throughout the Dallas metroplex in his Chinese American Kenpo Way of Four Winds.

Tim Looney (7) Mr. Looney started his training in the 1960s under James Toney and Keith Yates. After pursuing other activities for several years he rejoined Mr. Yates and is now a senior instructor at the Richardson YMCA.
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Mark Lynn (8) Mr. Lynn teaches at Hidden Sword Martial Arts in Roanoke, Texas. www.hiddensword.com

Buddy Matthews (7) Dr. Matthews made his black belt originally under Roy Kurban. He has trained with the AKATO since the 1970s.
Tim Meeks (1)

Thomas Merhout (6) Mr. Merhout holds the distinction of being the youngest person ever promoted to black belt by Keith Yates. He holds a black belt in weapons and is also a medal winning Judo champion.

Ysabel Merhout (5) Mrs. Merhout teaches at Hands On Karate in Garland and also at the Plano YMCA. In addition she teaches tai chi classes.
Lawrence Miller (3) Mr. Miller is the senior instructor at Contender Martial Arts in Memphis, TN. A veteran competitor on the NASKA circuit, he earned his Shodan in 1990 from the Tennessee Karate Institute, founded by Patrick Wrenn, Bill Wallace, and Elvis Presley.
Don Mullins (3)
Jessica Myers (2)
Zac Neill
(1)
Yair Or (1)
John Patterson (3) Mr. Patterson teaches the Little Dragons class at the RIchardson Y.
Caitlin Pennell (3) Ms. Pennell teaches for the Dragon School of Taekwondo at Richardson Heights Recreation Center.

Sam Perez (8) Mr. Perez owns Denison Family Karate in Denison, Texas. A master instructor, he has been a top champion on the competition scene for a number of years. www.denisonfamilykarate.com

Michael Proctor (10) Proctor Sensei is the martial arts "pro" at the Cooper Institute for Aerobics Research, a position he accepted after several years in law-enforcement. He also teaches at Karate, Kobudo and Tai Chi at Presbyterian Hospital and several other Dallas locations. Mr. Proctor has been practicing the martial arts since childhood and is the founder of Renbudo Karate-Do. He heads the AKATO division overseeing martial arts with Japanese roots.
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Kathy Rhine (5) A U.S. Army veteran, teaches women’s self-defense classes.

Lyman Roark (5) A certified official in Olympic-Style Taekwondo, Mr. Roark teaches at Alpha Self Defense Academy in Dallas and at the McKinney Rec Center.
Robert Rothlesberger (3) He teaches for the Dragon School of Taekwondo at Richardson Heights Recreation Center.
Steve Servin (2)
Wendy Settle (3)
Dennis Shuman
(2)
Al Snyder (2)
Janet Snyder (3) Ms. Snyder is the head instructor at Cypress Martial Arts in Rochester, MN.
Lance Spradlin (1)
Layne Spradlin
(1)
Alisha Starnes
(3)
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Stephen Starnes (9) Mr. Starnes is the head instructor at North Texas Karate Academy in Bridgeport. He began his training in 1985 at the age of 7. He received his black belt at the age of 12 and taught for his instructor, Darrel Sanders, throughout his teenage years. He currently trains under Billy Smith as well as with Mike Proctor and Keith Yates. He also teaches Christian homeschool kids with the Koinos (karate) Homeschool Fellowship. www.northtexaskarateacademy.com

Dick Strom (9) Master Strom owns the Strom's Black Belt Academy and Family Fitness Center in Seguin, Texas. He started his martial arts career in Chicago and has been a member of the AKATO for several years. He is the founder of Jung Tong Moo Sul Tae Kwon Do.
Jihane Tahiri (1)
Alvin Tang (1)
Ken Terrill (2)
Susan Terrill (1) Mrs. Terrill teaches the Little Dragons class at the Richardson Y.

Tony Tempesta (8) Master Tempesta has studied the martial arts all over the world, including his native Italy. He currently trains under Mr. Proctor and instructs at the Cooper Center in both Renbudo and Kobudo. He speaks four languages fluently.
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Tom Thompson (9) Beginning his training in 1970 under Allen Steen, Dr. Thompson is the founder of the Ki Il Do Kwan style of Tae Kwon Do.
Dan Trimmell (1)
James Trimmell (1)
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Ginny Aversa-Tyler (3) Mrs. Aversa Tyler began her training with Keith Yates, and received her 1st Dan in 1999.  She has also trained under traditional Okinawan and Shotokan instructors in Virginia, and in Sherman, Texas. Ginny currently teaches for the First Class North Texas Homeschool Co-op, and is the founder of DMD Tae Kwon Do.
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Tommy Vaughan (6) An experienced teacher and U.S. combat veteran, Mr. Vaughan became affiliated with the AKATO in 1997 and teaches at Truth, Honor, Discipline Martial Arts.
Kimberly Wang (1)
Glenn Watson
(1)
Lee Washburn (4)

Colin Wee (7) Instructor at Joong Do Kwan Tae Kwon Do in Western Australia. Mr Wee has been trained primarily by Sensei Bryan Robbins and Sensei Michael Proctor. He has 40 years of experience in the martial arts and was previously a national representative and coach in Archery.
Jill Weston (2)
Paul Whiteman (1)

Bob Woerner (7) Master Woerner started training under James Toney and Keith Yates in 1969. He has taught at several Dallas area health clubs for several years and teaches private lessons at the Richardson Y.
David Wollard (8)
Rodney Yates (1)