Silicon Valley Shotokan Karate’s instructors are arguably among the best anywhere. They teach traditional technique in an innovative style, striving to accelerate the learning process.
Many of our instructors started their karate training over 30 years ago, in the 1980s (five started in the 1980s and quite a few others in the early 1990s). 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 at a variety of camps and seminars.
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). Sensei Keeling presently holds the rank of rokudan (6th degree) from the WTKO (2017) and also North Cal Karate Kobudo Association (2011). He has spent over 20,000 hours doing Karate, including 15,000+ hours teaching it (including 1500+ hours teaching online), a large part of which was in Japan. There are not many people who can legitimately claim such experience or even close to it.
For more on Sensei Keeling, please see here.
Sensei Borda started his Shotokan training in the mid-1980s and started teaching in 1989. 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. He normally teaches the Tuesday evening adult 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 experienced black belt instructors also teach classes at our dojo; some weekly and some filling in from time to time. We are very fortunate to have Instructors and Assistant Instructors with such extensive knowledge and teaching skill, many of who have more ability and experience than most head instructors elsewhere.
Andreas – Beginning his Shotokan training in 1984 in his native Greece, Sensei 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. Sensei Andreas holds sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank.
Rachel – Sensei 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 and has won medals in tournaments both locally and internationally. Sensei Rachel holds sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank.
Andrew – At SVSK since 2001, Andrew started doing Shotokan in 1993. In addition, he has trained in Jiujitsu 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. Sensei Andrew holds sandan (3rd degree black belt) rank.
John – Sensei John started doing karate in early 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 run one of our after-school programs and leads the occasional kids or adult class at our main dojo.
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 some of the adult classes and 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.”
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. He has held the rank of nidan (2nd degree) since 2017.
Matthew is still a teenager but has already reached nidan level (2nd degree black belt) and is obviously very talented and passionate. He has helped teach kids classes for many years and has led adult classes as well many times. He has a large collection of medals and trophies from tournaments.
Jess started doing Shotokan in the early 1990s and spent time in Japan in the late 1990s. He is another who does a great job leading by example. Sensei Jess holds the rank of nidan (2nd degree).
Farshid – Having started Shotokan 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.
Novely – Although only having just graduated from high school in 2019 (studying at Berkeley now but still attending our classes many times each week) and attaining her black belt in 2019, Novely has already accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She co-teaches many of the kids class, as she has been doing for several years. The other youth students look up to her as a role model and guide. Fun fact: Sensei Novely is a master of Karate trivia and kata variations!
James and other black belts and senior brown belt students help teach classes as well sometimes when more senior black belt instructors are not available. Please note that our brown belt assistant instructors typically have more skill and teaching ability than many black belts elsewhere.
Brown belt teens including Keshav, Lindsay, Sophie and Gaku have helped teach many of the kids classes. Other brown belt teenagers also help out occasionally and Sensei Keeling provides mentoring for them.
In case you lost count, that is a total of well over 350 years of cumulative experience for just the black belt instructors (and not nearly all of our black belts are listed above as 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.