Chief Instructor, Sensei Jon Keeling

Sensei Keeling has dedicated most of his life to training, understanding and teaching Karate. After 40 years being very active in Karate, he has risen to the level of what most would call “master level” (in many other martial arts, they use terms like “grand master” – but we do not in traditional Shotokan).

He is the author of over 100 articles on various aspects of karate. He has been 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, Jiujitsu, 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, as well as all the WTKO USA National Camps. He has taught in multiple countries on each of three different continents. He also heads the Organizing Committee for the Hoitsugan 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 was the Director for the WTKO’s National Technical Committee. He formed Shotokan International to act as a global community for those interested in collaborating on Shotokan training and teaching, including both those in structured organizations who want to expand their horizons, as well as independents looking for a home.

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.


In addition to teaching the vast majority of the classes at SVSK, Sensei Keeling also teaches after-school classes at local schools and for six years was a Lecturer at San Jose State University — their official karate instructor, teaching beginning and intermediate karate classes for credit.  And he will be teaching the martial arts and self-defense classes at Stanford University from the 2022-23 school year. He teaches children at day-camps during the summer and also conducts private lessons and self-defense seminars at corporations, schools and private events. He has taught in multiple countries on each of three continents. He has taught self-defense to THOUSANDS of people and Karate to MANY THOUSANDS of people.

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.

In addition to teaching traditional Shotokan Karate since 1984, Mr Keeling also started teaching self-defense in 1989 and has gone through extensive training in this field, including an intense Instructors Development Course with Mr Rory Miller, considered by many to be among the very best in the business

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, where he logged over 300 hours answering calls. He has done other volunteer work in the field of mental health, including volunteering many times for full-day school events with 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 thousands of students, including approximately 1000 7th graders at a school in Los Altos over the course of five years, many hundreds of 9th graders at Palo Alto High in 2017 and hundreds more high school students at Mountain View High in 2022. In addition, he spent three years as the parent representative on the Safety Committee for Los Altos High School. Mr. Keeling has also made over 130 blood/platelets donations and has done annual volunteer reading and talking about bullying to elementary school kids in Mountain View for three years and has mentored at-risk teens. There’s more but those are the highlights. 😉

Mr. Keeling has a wonderful wife and 3 children, all of whom 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.

A partial list of instructors Sensei Keeling has trained with (some as student, some training together in the same classes) over the past 36+ years: Senseis Nakayama, Nishiyama, Okazaki, Mori, Kanazawa, Mikami, Asai, Sugiura, Yamaguchi, Yaguchi, Enoeda, Ueki, Abe, Osaka, Isaka, Yahara, Tanaka, Imura, Omura, Yabe, Tabata, Takahashi, Kurasako, Kawawada, Imamura, Ogura, Seto, Murakami, Cruz, Ubl, Shapoff, Gayol, Friederich, Kato, Field, Rodriguez, Amos, Fisher, Schmeiser, Berger, Izumiya, Yokota(x2), Shiina, Morris, Naka…