Instructors

Silicon Valley Shotokan Karate’s instructors are among the best anywhere. They teach traditional technique in an innovative style, striving to accelerate the learning process.

Many of our instructors have over 25 years each of karate experience. And because our two primary instructors lived and trained in Japan for extended periods, each has spent hundreds or even thousands of hours learning from many of the best instructors in the world. They continue to pursue opportunities to learn more and further progress their karate. We bring in guest instructors to supplement our own extensive experience and train regularly with other instructors.

Chief Instructor

 Jon Keeling

At the Hoitsugan Dojo

With Kawawada Sensei at the Hoitsugan Dojo, 1990

Sensei Keeling has been doing karate since 1982. As a young man he went to Japan to pursue his passion and spent a total of 8 years in Tokyo honing his skills.  In the 1980’s he lived at the Hoitsugan Dojo, the private dojo of the late Japan Karate Association (JKA) chief instructor Masatoshi Nakayama, for 3 years prior to and following Nakayama Shihan’s passing. During that time he trained daily at the Hoitsugan and at the JKA Sou-Honbu (Headquarters) Dojo, learning from many of the world’s most highly regarded karate instructors. He spent an additional five years in Japan in the 1990’s.  Sensei Keeling received his nidan (2nd degree black belt) in 1987, sandan (3rd degree) in 1993 and yondan (4th degree) in 1997, all from the JKA in Japan and JKA ‘D’ level instructor/examiner/judge certification in 1998 (tests conducted entirely in Japanese). Keeling Sensei presently holds the rank of rokudan (6th degree) from the WTKO (2017) and also North Cal Karate Kobudo Association (2011).

Sensei Keeling is the author of over 100 articles on various aspects of karate. He is the moderator of several online karate forums, is Chief Referee for the thrice-yearly Shinkyu Shotokan tournaments in South San Francisco and frequently runs or participates in various karate special events in the area.  In addition to karate he has fairly significant experience training in aikido and boxing, and has had exposure to (=limited training in) judo, jujutsu, Muay Thai, kickboxing, Krav Maga, several weapons arts and other karate styles. Sensei Keeling has been one of the senior instructors selected to teach at the WTKO International Summer Camps in 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018. He has taught in seven countries on three continents. He also heads the Organizing Committee for the Shotokan Legacy Seminars, an unparalleled series of international training camps and teaches specialized self-defense workshops and has brought in dozens of guest instructors to the dojo. Sensei Keeling is also the Director for the WTKO’s National Technical Committee.

Sensei Keeling has won or placed in many tournaments, including qualifying to represent Tokyo in the JKA All-Japan tournament a total of four times by finishing among the top eight competitors in the All-Tokyo tournament.  Although he is certainly able to train students to excel in tournament competition, he considers tournaments to be far less important than training for self-defense and self-betterment.  That said, Sensei Keeling is often seen leading judging/referee efforts at various tournaments in the area and acts as Chief Referee at a minimum of three tournaments/year and often several more.

TeachingInLondon-ccIn addition to teaching most of the classes at SVSK, Sensei Keeling also teaches after-school classes at local elementary schools and is a Lecturer at San Jose State University — their official karate instructor, teaching beginning and intermediate karate classes for credit.  He teaches children at day-camps during the summer and also conducts private lessons and self-defense seminars at corporations, schools and private events.

Mr. Keeling holds a Masters degree in Kinesiology and received certification as a personal trainer from NASM. He is constantly working to further enhance his already deep knowledge of physical movement and related subjects.

He worked in the investment/financial services business for approximately 20 years in various capacities before leaving the corporate world at the end of 2012 to devote all of his time to karate and self-defense.

Mr. Keeling is also very involved in volunteer work, both in the local community and beyond. Almost all of this volunteer work involves trying to keep people healthy/safe. He put in about 18 months as a “Crisis Counselor” for CrisisTextLine, which he plans to return to when he has the time. He spent several years as a “Block Preparedness Coordinator,” where he volunteered with the Palo Alto Office of Emergency Services. He completed “Citizens Police Academy” with the PAPD and took part in a full active shooter scenario training with local LEOs in 2016 and is currently on the Police Chief Advisory Group for Palo Alto. He has taught self-defense to approximately 200 7th graders each of the past 5 years at a school in Los Altos and has taught all the 9th graders at Palo Alto High in 2017 and has taught self-defense at several other local schools as well. In addition, he is currently on the Safety Committee for Los Altos High School, volunteering to run the committee district-wide. Mr. Keeling has also made over 50 blood donations and has done annual volunteer reading and talking about bullying to elementary school kids in Mountain View for three years and mentors an at-risk teen. There’s more but those are the highlights. 😉

Mr. Keeling has a wonderful wife and 3 children, all of who have taken classes with him in the past but have their own interests as well. 🙂

Read an interview with Sensei Keeling from 2007 or another one from 2014,  in The Shotokan Way.

Senior Instructor

Fred Borda

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Sensei Borda softens up a tough opponent with maegeri before closing in with the punch

Sensei Borda started doing karate over 30 years ago, in the mid-1980s. He trained at the Hoitsugan Dojo and the JKA Honbu Dojo in Tokyo for three years, as well as at JKA dojos in Santa Cruz, Redwood City and Palo Alto, California for extended periods.  After a very long term at nidan, Borda Sensei was presented with his WTKO sandan (3rd degree) certificate in 2011 in recognition of his superior skills, deep understanding and vast experience in Shotokan karate.  Sensei Keeling considers Sensei Borda to be among the most highly qualified instructors in the region and urges others to watch him for the best available example of proper form.

Sensei Borda contributes articles to karate publications and helps lead instructor training classes. In his professional life he maintains close ties to Japan, visiting there often, and speaks Japanese fluently.

Borda Sensei normally teaches the Tuesday evening classes, as well as sessions of the Instructors’ Classes, and often fills in for Keeling Sensei in other classes when he is away teaching seminars elsewhere.

Other Instructors

Other experienced black belt instructors teach classes from time to time. We are very fortunate to have Instructors and Assistant Instructors with such extensive knowledge and teaching skill.

Andreas – Beginning his Shotokan training in 1984 in his native Greece, Andreas continued his training in Boston during college, attaining shodan (1st degree black belt) in 1989. He has additional experience in Judo and TaeKwonDo but Shotokan is his passion. Sensei Andreas has been with SVSK since 2009 and teaches some of the adult classes.

Rachel – Formerly assisting with instruction of children at one of our former Palo Alto locations, Rachel enthusiastically shares knowledge and a positive attitude when she teaches, whether it be to kids or adults. She started training in the late 1980’s and has taught internationally for the WTKO. Sensei Rachel runs a female-only training group that involves women from all over the Bay Area.

Andrew – At SVSK since 2001, Andrew started doing Shotokan in 1993. In addition, he has trained in Jujutsu and Aikido.  Sensei Andrew has a reputation for smiling a lot, even while performing grueling exercises where most others can’t keep up. He is a great example for not only technical performance but positive attitude as well. He normally teaches the Monday evening adult classes.

Jean – With SVSK since 1999, having already spent several years doing Shotokan, Sensei Jean brings experience and understanding appreciated by all. She has attained a high level of technical skill and teaching ability.  She helps teach many of the kids’ classes on Saturdays. In her own words: “The aspects of martial arts training I enjoy most are the simultaneous mental and physical challenge, critically thinking about training and applications, and the emphasis on self-control and self-improvement.”

Ken – Involved in Karate since 1990, and experienced in other traditional martial arts as well, Sensei Ken has been with SVSK since 2001. He has a passionate teaching style that blends tradition with practical application. Along with wife, Jean, he helps teach many of the kids’ classes on Saturdays. In his own words: “I maintain my training despite an extremely busy work and family life, primarily because I love the art itself, enjoy the exercise and greatly value the complete focus that forces one to take a break from the stresses of daily life.”

John  – Sensei John started doing karate in the 1980’s and has taught at several locations since the mid-1990’s. He is patient while leading others through basic techniques.  He has helped running one of our after-school programs and leads the occasional kids or adult class at our main dojo.

Farshid – Started karate training in the late 1980’s, Sensei Farshid helps beginners understand fine points of techniques when called upon to do so and his kind nature is infectious.

Yong – Sensei Yong has been diligently working on Karate and other martial arts for many years and when called upon to help others he does so with an authentic desire to help. Yong has excellent basic form that others should try to emulate.

Matthew is still a teenager but has already reached nidan level (2nd degree black belt) and is obviously very talented and passionate. He has been helping teach kids classes for several years. Brown belt teens such as Novely & Keshav are also helping with teaching some of the kids classes; Novely taught an after-school program by herself for about a year and Keshav is teaching weekly classes now. Other brown belt teenagers also help out occasionally.

Akiko, Kostas, James, Kylie and other black belts and senior brown belt students help teach classes as well.  Please note that our brown belts typically have more skill and teaching ability than most black belts elsewhere.

In case you lost count, that is a total of well over 250 years of cumulative experience for just the senior black belt instructors!

Guest Instructors

We host guest instructors regularly and have worked to bring together excellent instructors from around the world and create learning opportunities for karate-ka in the Bay Area. Some of these events have received global recognition.