Since 1976

KEITH YATES MARKS 40+ YEARS AT THE YMCA—Mr. Yates actually started teaching at the Town North YMCA as a brown belt assistant instructor in 1967. He was the head instructor at Allen Steen's Texas Karate Institute on Hillcrest Avenue in Dallas for many years and when Steen retired in 1976, Mr. Yates began teaching at various locations around North Texas including SMU, several dance studios and recreation centers until he became the martial arts teacher at the Richardson YMCA in 1982. He would also teach at the Garland Y, at Richland College, and at the Cooper Aerobics Institute. He oversaw other YMCA classes at the Lake Highlands Y and the Plano Y. Now after all these decades of service to the YMCA he is retiring from his regular classes in Richardson. TO BE CLEAR, he will continue to teach the black belt weapons classes in Dallas and the Tai Chi classes in McKinney (and, of course special seminars) but the Richardson Y held a retirement celebration on Saturday, April 20, 2024, with almost 70 people in attendance including many of his early black belts. Congratulations on decades of service to the Y.

NEW BLACK BELTS—November saw the promotion of five young, new black belts in Nam Seo Kwan Tae Kwon Do. Michael Lawler, Jeffrey Chou, Maya Grotefend, Trinity Tyler and Ethan Pledger survived a grueling exam to earn this honor. The day also saw Julie Royal promoted to second dan, and Kevin and Leanne Buckley earn their third degree black belt ranks. Mr. Yates also presented a surprise promotion of sixth degree to Ysabel Merhout. Congratulations to all these dedicated martial artists. See photos.

April 29th saw Teressa Trimmel, Elizabeth Shumake, and Kim Shumake earn their first degree black belts. Drake Pledger and Don Mullins were promoted to 4th degree and Julie Gargiulo and Alan Hamil earned their 5th degree "master" ranking. Also promoted were Ethan Pledger and Jeffrey Chou to first gup brown stripe.

In the summer of 2022, AKATO president Keith D. Yates was inducted into the "Official Tae Kwon Do Hall of Fame" in New York City. This honor is reserved for a select few individuals who have impacted the art worldwide. Past inductees include Chuck Norris, Jhoon Rhee, and Allen Steen. See photo on the Gallery page.

Mr. Yates' just released book, "Out of the Dojo: A Black Belt Legacy," is now available on Amazon. Historical photos, articles from Mr. Yates, and profiles of over 150 black belts he has trained over the last 5 plus decades. Click HERE.

Check out Keith Yates' YouTube page for the patterns for American Tae Kwon Do. You'll also find several other videos on Kobudo patterns, history, philosophy and training. For example, here's James Trimmel doing the form for yellow belt.

MORE BOOKS—Don't forget Mr. Yates's other books, Christianity and the Martial Arts, Martial Arts ABCs, and Sensei Sayings are also available exclusively on Amazon.

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