Since 1976

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In 1976, Keith D. Yates, one of the original black belts of Allen R. Steen (the Father of Texas Karate) founded the Southwest Tae Kwon Do Association. It was the early days of the martial arts in America, and there were few associations which maintained quality standards and credible programs for both instructors and students. The group was born out of that need, and that need has driven it for well over four decades.
In 1996 we became the American Karate and Tae Kwon Do Organization, with membership standards for individuals and schools for two divisions—Korean arts and arts with Japanese/Okinawan origin.

The AKATO is committed to the benefits of traditional martial arts while acknowledging that we must keep up with the ever-changing society in which we live and practice. We are not the biggest organization but are one of the most credible and well-organized.

• To promote quality education of martial artists
• To provide professional standards for schools, instructors and rank promotions
• To cultivate friendship and mutual understanding between martial artists

We maintain an eclectic but traditional approach. Keeping the emphasis on the "art," we incorporate techniques from several other styles such as jui-jitsu and kobudo. In fact AKATO instructors can cross-train and earn black belt ranking in other systems.

We hold regular Continuing Education classes for instructors taught by master teachers. After you earn enough "credits" you are eligible for our Advanced Instructor's Certification. We also sponsor seminars, host tournaments and have an annual awards banquet and clinic.

Many AKATO instructors are direct black belts of our founder, Keith D. Yates, or are from his family tree of black belts. We have occasionally allowed other schools to join providing they:
• 1) are recommended by a senior AKATO black belt,
• 2) personally train with AKATO instructors, and
• 3) are voted in by a majority of the AKATO Membership Committee.

We do NOT require member schools to follow a set curriculum nor do we tell them how to teach—however we expect the very highest standards of martial arts. For a school to be considered an AKATO "member school,” a minimum of ten students must be AKATO members in addition to the senior instructor who can receive a FREE Black Belt Membership. Examinations are under the complete authority of the individual school, however black belt promotions can be sanctioned by the AKATO.

The AKATO is not a "mail-order" association. If you have approval from your AKATO instructor for membership you can download an application form here.
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"Grandmaster Yates has more than just a knowledge of the martial arts but of the philosophy and implications of a lifetime of martial study."
—Jhoon Rhee, the "Father" of Tae Kwon Do in America

"Keith, thanks for your leadership and numerous contributions to the martial arts."
—Chuck Norris
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