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). After pushing off rank advancement for many years, Sensei Keeling eventually returned to formal testing to reach the rank of rokudan (6th degree) in the WTKO (2017) and was awarded nanadan (7th degree) with North Cal Karate Kobudo Association (2022 – promoted by Shihan Leroy Rodriguez, who has been doing Karate since 1961). He has spent well over 20,000 hours doing Karate, including 15,000+ hours teaching it (including over 2500 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. He presently holds the rank of godan (5th degree) with Silicon Valley 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. When his schedule allows, he teaches evening adult classes, as well as sessions of the Instructors’ Classes, and often fills in for Keeling Sensei 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 she has won medals in tournaments both locally and internationally. Sensei Rachel holds the rank of sandan (3rd degree black belt).
Andrew – At SVSK since 2001, Sensei 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, teens or adult class at our main dojo.
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.”
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.”
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. He is also an avid weightlifter, having won medals in that as well.
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).
Novely – Now at the rank of nidan (2nd degree), Sensei Novely has accumulated a vast amount of knowledge and experience. She has taught many of the kids class, and has been doing so for over five years. Fun fact: Sensei Novely is a master of Karate trivia and kata variations!
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.
James, Chris 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- and black-belt teens including Keshav, Gaku, Sophie, Keira, Louise, Uta & Sonali help teach some 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)!
Please note that earning a black belt rank at Silicon Valley Karate is no easy task…It typically takes at least 1000 hours of dedicated training time to get to shodan (first degree black belt). At many other places, a black belt is awarded after less than half that time and our students typically learn much more quickly and thoroughly than elsewhere. So by the time they get to nidan (second degree black belt), they have usually surpassed the ability and understanding of many head instructors elsewhere. Don’t believe it? Come for a visit and see for yourself! 🙂
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.