GM Keith Yates
Chairman of the High Dan Board for the AKBBA, Grandmaster Keith D. Yates is recognized as one of the nation’s leading authorities on the martial arts. He serves in leadership positions in several other national and international organizations. He is founder and President of the American Karate and Tae Kwon Do Organization (AKATO), the Chairman of the Gospel Martial Arts Union (a world-wide organization headquartered in Indianapolis), and the Vice Chairman of both Martial Arts Grandmasters International (MAGI) and the Karate Masters Hall of Fame. He was also on the Advisory Board of Chuck Norris’ Kicks-Start Kids Foundation for a number of years.
He has written over five hundred magazine articles for numerous publications including “Sports and Fitness,” “Black Belt Magazine,” “Tae Kwon Do Times,” and “Inside Kung Fu.” He has been a regular columnist for “Inside Karate,” “Inside TaeKwonDo,” “Martial Arts Combat and Sports,” “Martial Arts Professional,” and “Martial Arts Success.” He contributed the chapter on karate for Prentice Hall’s sixth edition of the Physical Education Handbook, a widely used text in colleges and universities. His book, The Complete Book of Tae Kwon Do Forms, is considered a classic reference text and is now in its sixteenth printing and is sold all over the world. His other texts include a children’s book: Young Samurai, and The Complete Guide to American Karate and Tae Kwon Do. Grandmaster Yates also co-authored the popular Complete Idiot’s Guide to Tae Kwon Do. His latest book is Christianity and the Martial Arts. His articles prompted Jhoon Rhee, the “Father of American Tae Kwon Do,” to proclaim Mr. Yates as one of the leading authorities on Tae Kwon Do in the United States.
He has been featured in numerous articles in martial arts publications as well as in the “secular” press such as the Dallas Morning News. Mr. Yates has been featured in television stories on both NBC and ABC in the Dallas area and he has served as a guest on both cable TV and radio talk shows (in fact, he was voted the most popular guest for 2010 on the radio broadcast, Martial Arts Masters of Texas).
He wrote and produced the video documentary, “A History of Korean Karate in America” which received rave reviews nationally. He’s in the 1992 edition of “Who’s Who in the South and Southwest,” a honor that goes with his place in the Third Edition of “Who’s Who in American martial Arts.” In 1997 Grandmaster Yates was in the first class of inductees into the Texas Martial arts Hall of Fame alongside other Texas legends such as Allen Steen, Demetrius Havanas and Chuck Norris. In 1998 he was in the first class of the American Council on Martial Arts national instructor certification program training alongside Bill Wallace, Joe Lewis and Jhoon Rhee.
Starting his training in 1965 at the age of 14, Yates became one of the youngest black belts in the country when he earned his rank at age 17 from Allen Steen. He established a reputation as one of the top kata (forms) practitioners in the Southwest winning several championships. After his successful tournament career he embarked on a study of other martial arts and has earned black belts in Japanese Ju-Jitsu and Okinawan Kobudo (the art of ancient Asian weapons). Grandmaster Yates began the first college “karate for credit” program in the Southwest in 1972 at Southern Methodist University and he served as an adjunct professor at SMU for several years in both the Physical Education and Communications Departments. Recognized as an outstanding instructor and innovator he is in frequent demand nationally as a seminar leader and teacher.
Grandmaster Yates was a member of the original Southwest Karate Black Belt Association and was also on the Board of Directors of the original American Karate Black Belt Association. He was the designer of not only its original red, white, and blue shield emblem but the updated one currently in use. He created the original lineage chart of the Allen Steen Black Belt line which was published in Black Belt Magazine as “The House that Steen Built.” It was this chart that inspired our current efforts to create a complete lineage chart of all Black Belts descending from Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee through Grandmaster Allen Steen.
He graduated from SMU and Dallas Theological Seminary where he did his master’s thesis on the “Spiritual Aspects of the Martial Arts.” He and his wife have four grown children and ten grandchildren.We are proud to have such an accomplished member of the original class of Allen Steen black belts serve as our chairman.
It is a great pleasure to work with GM Yates in the upcoming months to the GOE and have him as one of the instructors for the event.