Now in his 80’s, Dr. Jon Beltram no longer leads practices. He is godan (5th degree black belt) and a Senior Council member of Shotokan Karate of America. Jon joined SKA in 1966 while it was still called Southern California Karate Association or SCKA and started our dojo the same year. Dr. Beltram began martial arts training in 1959 and holds black belts in Judo (under Wey Sing Kim, 1959 World Judo Champion), Okinawan Shorei Kempo (under Mel Wise), JKA Shotokan Karate (under Mr. S. Mikami, 3 time All-Japan Champion), Goju Ryu Karate (under Shoichi Yamamoto and Gosei Yamaguchi), and Yun Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do (under Jang Yul Park, 1958 Champion of Korea). Dr. Beltram was a member of the U.S. Karate Team that competed for the 1970 World Karate Championship in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Ohshima awarded him godan, SKA’s highest rank, in August, 2000. Dr. Beltram has presented free-fighting and self-defense seminars throughout the United States. You can read some great stories about him in our 30th Anniversary Album and our 50th Anniversary Album. More than ninety of Dr. Beltram’s students (and his student’s students) have attained black belt rank.
Dojo leader and senior Instructor Mike Lyon, godan (5th degree black belt), was the director of SKA’s Midwest Region from 1988 until his retirement in 2023. After boxing as a child, in 1969 he began jiyu-jitsu training at the University of Pennsylvania. Lyon began training under Jon Beltram and joined SKA in 1984. He won the 2nd place medal for team kumite at the 32nd annual Nisei Week championship in Los Angeles in 1989. In 1991, he won 1st place for black belt kata at the SKA’s Midwest championship in Chicago. A few weeks later, Mr. Ohshima selected him to demonstrate jiyu-ippon kumite at the 60th Anniversary of the Waseda University Karate Club in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Lyon founded the KCAI dojo at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1988, and the AT&T dojo in 1994. He led practices at both dojos until June of 1999 when he passed leadership along to two of his nidan students, Sarah Oliver and Tom Peacher (d. 2019). Mr. Lyon was awarded SKA’s National Member of the Year for 2003, 2008, & 2016. In 2018, Mr. Ohshima invited him to test for godan and in 2022 he was promoted by a panel of the shihans of Israel (Eli Cohen), Canada (Norman Welch), and the USA (John Teramoto) during Canada Shotokan’s 50th Anniversary celebration in Vancouver, BC.
Senior instructor, Carl Johnson, yodan (4th degree black belt), began karate practice in 1980 under Jon Beltram. Carl represented the Midwest at the Nisei Week Tournaments of 1988 and 1989 and was pictured on the July/August 1989 cover of Shotokan News. In 1990, Carl was one of five members of the international team at Harmony, the first Worldwide Shotokan gathering in Santa Barbara, CA. Carl placed 1st in jiyu-kumite at the 1991 Midwest championship in Chicago, then traveled to Japan to compete during Waseda University’s 60th Anniversary in Tokyo. He was awarded SKA’s 1991 Midwest Member of the Year. Mr. Ohshima awarded Carl the rank of yodan in Montreal in the fall of 2000. Carl led the Longview Dojo (founded by David L. Mills in 1970), for many years until it was disbanded in 2016. Carl has led a number of Midwest special trainings and continues to lead Saturday practices at the Kansas City dojo.
Senior instructor, Takamasa Morita, nidan (2nd degree black belt) began Shidokan Karate practice in 1985 in Kyoto, Japan at age 11. He won the All-Japan Full Contact Karate Open Tournament twice in the mid-1990s. At the age of 22, Takamasa moved to Kansas City to complete his degree in accounting. Now president of Morita Taxes, he discovered Kansas City Shotokan Karate Dojo and resumed his practice. He was awarded SKA’s 2022 Midwest Member of the Year. “When I was young, we loved to punch each other. I’m no longer trying to be some kind of tough guy. Our Shotokan dojo emphasizes pushing yourself to do your best. Young or old, healthy or crippled, everyone can come and try to push themselves. The people I practice with are the best part!”
Instructor, Mike Kostroske, nidan (2nd degree black belt) began practice in 1997 at the AT&T Dojo in Kansas City under Mike Lyon. Mike K is a very patient and gentle teacher and a very quick fighter. He believes in the many benefits of karate practice and enjoys the outstanding people who stay with it. Mike also manages the annual Midwest Summer Special Training, our five-day intensive karate residency.
Manager, Ken Richardson, shodan (1st degree black belt), is Kansas City Shotokan Karate Club’s captain and dojo manager. Ken joined us in 2011 after a long military and quasi military background. His know-how and can-do attitude has helped keep the dojo running in good condition right from the start. He is responsible for collecting SKA and Dojo dues and keeps members supplied with high-quality uniforms, textbooks, and first-aid. He is tough as nails.
Paul Cepe, shodan (1st degree black belt), began his practice at Kansas City Dojo in 2017. John Teramoto awarded him shodan in 2023 remarking, “There is no question of Paul’s level – he has put in the work. At the Midwest Jiyu-kumite tournament July 1, Paul was selected to represent the Midwest at the 64th annual Nisei Week Tournament at Terasaki Budokan in Los Angeles.