A-KATO DAN (Black Belt) RANK MEMBERS
Jhoon G. Rhee Although not an AKaTo member, Grandmaster Rhee is 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 still teaches in the Washington D. C. area. See jhoonrheetkd.com
A-KaTo Advisory Board
Allen R. Steen 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 A-KaTo," since he was Mr. Yates' original teacher. He is a former International Karate Champion (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. He is on the Advisory Board of the AKaTo.
J. Pat Burleson Another Advisory Board member 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. He teaches in Ft. Worth, Texas. See karateUSA.com
Skipper Mullins Grandmaster Mullins was named one of the top-five American Karate fighters by Black Belt Magazine in 1990. He won practically every major competition in the country during the 1960s and '70s. During this time he also served as the instructor for advanced belts at Mr. Steen's schools where he trained many champions including a young teenager named Keith Yates. Mr. Mullins, a retired captain with the Dallas Fire Department, currently gives seminars across the nation and is on the Advisory Board of the AKaTo.
James B. Toney Grandmaster Toney was another original black belt champions of Mr. Steen. He earned his first dan ranking in 1968 and currently holds a tenth dan. Also a member of the High-Dan board of the American Karate Black Belt Association (AKBBA) Mr. Toney regularly teaches across the country. See akbba.com
N. Jack Erickson Grandmaster Erickson also received his first dan rank in 1968 and with his late wife, Marian, founded the Dragon School of Taekwondo. See dragonschool.com
Keith D. Yates Grandmaster Yates, an internationally known author and teacher, founded the AKaTo in 1976. See about Keith D. Yates.
The following list of CURRENT AKaTo member Black Belts is in alphabetical order. Their current rank is in parentheses. If you are a currently paid-up A-KaTo member and your name is not listed here contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Master instructors and black belts with their own classes include brief bios.
NOTE: See Systems and Family Trees for a listing of Black Belts promoted by A-KaTo sanctioned founders.
Dan Ackerman (1)
Jon Alster (6) Mr. Alster owns the American Karate Academy in West Lake Village, California just north of Los Angeles. He started his training in high school in Virgina. Moving to Texas to attend SMU (where he earned his degree in business), Mr. Alster started training with Keith Yates in 1980. He has trained with many AKato instructors including Bryan Robbins and Mike Proctor. He currently holds a 5th degree Black Belt in Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do and 1st Dans in Kobudo and Escrima.
Victor Altamirano (2)
Richard Amon (4)
Zachary Ashmore (1)
Halleh Bahramnejad (1)
Danielle Baird (1)
Derek Baird (1)
Don Baird (3)
Sheryl Baird (2)
Aaron Barnett (3)
Judy Barnett (1)
Joseph Battino (3)
Jill Boudreaux (1)
Travis Brondsma (1)
Alex Brown (1)
Ben Couch (5) Mr. Couch is the senior instructor at Blue Cliff Tae Kwon Do in Tucson, Arizona. His martial arts training began in New York, where he earned black belts in both Kempo and Tae Kwon Do. In 2006, he contacted Mr. Yates about affiliating with the AKaTo, and drove all the way from Arizona to train with Mr. Yates and Mr. Proctor. Mr. Couch holds a 5th degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, a 2nd Dan in American Kempo, and a first degree black belt in Aikido.
Ralph Carrington (3)
Kelly Cox (6) Master Cox teaches classes at the YMCA in Garland, Texas. He began martial arts in 1973 under Master Hido Park, earning his 1st Dan in 1979 in Moo Duk Kwan. During the 1980's, 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 the most sought-after instructors in the organization. He has earned his 2nd Degree Black Belt in Kobudo and was awarded his Master Instructor Certification in 2000, and his 6th Degree in Nam Seo Kwan in 2006. Master Cox is also a certified instructor by the American Council on Martial Arts. He teaches Technical Theater at J.J. Pierce High School in Richardson, Texas.
Miles Crietzberg (1)
Danny Davis (6)
Rick Davis (1)
Chris Delgado (2)
John DeMattia (2)
Cliff Dillehay (6) 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 (2)
Rich Ernst (1)
Velmore Estillore (3) Mr. Estillore owns and operates ACT Gymnastics and Martial Arts in Dallas.
Duane Ethington (9) Born in Bloomington, Ill. Moved to Texas at age 7. After stint in Army Security Agency and a brief singing career with brother Hap, took up Tae Kwon Do at Allen Steen's TKI back in 1967. Now a 8th Dan with AKaTo and a 7th Dan in Jujitsu, Mr. Ethington has experienced a 'good run' in the arts. Southern California's Martial Arts Man of the Year in 1977 and in Who's Who in American Karate-2nd Edition, Mr. Ethington also has penned 498 published articles for martial arts magazines as well as written screen plays and has one book published and the second soon to be on the book shelves of America. Almost 70 years of age, he hasn't slowed much as he keeps his hand in the arts in various ways.
Justin Finley (2)
Garrett Foster (1)
Stu Fischbeck (3)
Caroline Goodspeed (6) Mrs. Goodspeed teaches classes at the YMCA in Richardson, Texas. She began her training in 1979 under Keith Yates at the Richardson YMCA to spend time with her daughter who was taking lessons at the Y. A certified instructor with the American Council of Martial Artists, she now teaches the Saturday classes at Richardson and Mondays at the Lake Highlands YMCA. She is the highest ranking woman in Nam Seo Kwan, holding a 6th degree Black Belt in Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do.
Duane Harbaugh (1)
Greg Harris (5)
Lauren Baird Henry (1)
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.
Paige Hubacek (1)
Daniel Hunt (1)
Abraham Iglesias (1)
Olga Iglesias (2)
Keith Ince (6) Mr. Ince began training in Lubbock in the late 60’s at Texas Karate Institute. He now trains with GM Yates at the Richardson location. Mr. Ince currently holds black belt ranking in Tae Kwon Do, Dai Ni-Gojuryu, Tang Soo Do, and Yo Sul Hapkido.
Ceasar Johnson (3) Mr. Johnson teaches classes at the Lake Highlands YMCA. He won the 2010 AKATO Instructor of the Year Award.
Tony Kaufman (3)
Jeff Kowalski (2)
Forrest Littlejohn (6) 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 Metroplex in his Chinese American Kenpo Way of Four Winds.
Tim Looney (3) 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.
Stephen Lucas (1)
Gayle Martensen (2)
Tim Masha (1)
Buddy Matthews (5) Dr. Matthews made his black belt originally under Roy Kurban. He has trained with the AKATO since the 1970s.
Amanda Maxon (1)
Rachael Maxon (1)
Rachel Maxon (1)
Thomas Merhout (4) Mr. Merhout holds the distinction of being the youngest person ever promoted to black belt by Keith Yates. Thomas now teaches in Bryan/College Station, Texas.
Ysabel Merhout (2) Mrs. Merhout holds classes in her own dojo built in the back of her residence. She also teaches tai chi and the little dragon classes at AWTC.
Larry 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.
Randy Miller (6) Master Miller is one of the most respected teachers in the AKaTo. He is the only person to have never missed a Kobudo class in the almost 20 years of its existence and has helped countless students improve their weapons technique. He is also a noted tournament coach and referee.
Lisa Montgomery (2)
Mike Moses (2)
Payton Mueller (2)
Chris Munger (1)
Zac Neill (1)
Lucy Nix (2)
Kelly O’Kelley (1)
Ron Owens (6) Begining his training in the 1970s, Mr. Owens has won numerous competitions over the years. He teaches Renbudo Karate at the Cooper Fitness Center, the Hockaday School for Girls and at several other Dallas locations.
John Patterson (2)
Sam Perez (6) 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.
Rob Preece (2)
Michael Proctor (9) 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.
Tim Pugliese (3)
Michael Randol (2) Mr. Randoll earned his black belt originally under J. Pat Burleson. He now teaches in South Texas with Alan Scrieber.
Kathy Rhine (2)
Lyman Roark (3) A certified offical in Olympic-Style Taekwondo, Mr. Roark teaches at the Alpha Self Defense Academy in McKinney, Texas.
Thomas Roesler (1)
Bryan Robbins (7)
Master Robbins teaches the martial arts classes at the Southern Methodist University. He began his training in 1980 under Keith Yates, a physical education student of his at SMU. Holding a 7th Degree Black Belt under Mr. Yates, he has gone onto earn a 3rd Degree in Aikido. He has also extensively studied the art of Aiki Ju Jutsu with Master Don Angier.
Jose Maria Rocha (1)
Yessica Rocha (1)
Max Rodriguez (2)
Elizabeth Rogan (1)
Kathleen Ross (1)
Celeste Rumphs (1)
Clarissa Rumphs (3)
Ron Rysavy (3)
Alan Schreiber (5) Mr. Schreiber began his training under Master Dick Strom in Seguin, Texas. He is the senior instructor at J&R Black Belt Academy in New Braunfels, Texas.
Alexandra Schreiber (2)
Elaine Schreiber (3)
Joshua Schreiber (2)
Michael Schulman (2)
Will Senn (1)
Dennis Shuman (2)
Erin Singleton (1)
Caleb Skipper (1)
Daniel Skipper (2)
LeAnn Spriggs (1)
Fred Stevens (1)
Dick Strom (8) 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 A-KaTo for several years. He is the founder of Jung Tong Moo Sul Tae Kwon Do.
Adam Strom (2)
Michele Strom (1)
Tony Tempesta (6) 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.
Alton Thibodeaux (7) Master Thibodeaux teaches classes at the Heights Recreation Center in Richardson, Texas. He started his Tae Kwon Do training under Mr. and Mrs. Jack Erickson. He is the head of the Dragon School of Tae Kwon Do.
Tom Thompson (9) Grandmaster Thompson owns and operates the Alpha Fitness Centers in Dallas. Beginning his training in 1970 under Allen Steen, Dr. Thompson is the founder of the Ki Il Do Kwan style of Tae Kwon Do.
Sara Van Driest (4)
Tommy Vaughan (4) An experienced teacher and combat veteran, Mr. Vaughan became affiliated with the A-KaTo in 1997 and teaches at Truth, Honor, Discipline Martial Arts.
Christian Villegas (1)
Jennifer Vilches (2)
Tim Vought (9)
Lee Washburn (2)
Colin Wee (4) Instructor of Hikaru Ryu Gendai Budo in Western Australia, Mr. Wee has been trained primarily by sensei Bryan Robbins. He is a 4th degree black belt with over 20 years of experience in the martial arts and was previously a national representative and coach in Archery.
Mark Wendell (7)
Rob Whapham (1)
Tabby Whapham (1)
Bob Woerner (6) 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.
Rodney Yates (1)