Kiado-Ryu Karate

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Photo of the Week: Who’s Watching You?

Who's Watching You?

Being aware of your surroundings is one of the first lines of self-defense. Yet, many women go through their days not really paying attention to who’s watching them. Remember, this is a predatory world, and although most people are decent there are those who are not, who have nefarious agendas of molestation, kidnapping, rape and more. Being responsible for one’s safety means surveying your environment to assess any potential threats. Therefore, it is critical to know Who’s Watching You?

Read the full article.

3 KIA Dudes and a Chick Under Cover

3 KIA Dudes and a Chick Under Cover

This is a fun photo. Four of the Karate Institute of America’s “Tried & True” don the new Kiado-Ryu baseball caps during class on 21 April 2016.

Front row (all by his lonesome): 5th Dan Master, Kim “Cultivator” Thomas

Second row (left to right): Blue belt Zemia “Barracuda” Garrett. 1st Dan Black Belt James “Psycho” Griffin.

Back row (standing tall): 1st Dan Black Belt Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet.

Black Belt Benefactor

The Karate Institute of America has been extremely blessed throughout its thirty-seven year history with wonderfully generous people who have given their time, energy, skill, and support to ensure its success. Without question, the one individual whose generous endowment blessed the KIA with its own studio in the early 2000s is 2nd Dan Black Belt, Jeff “Boa” Norman — the 61st Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu.

In 2001, the KIA was without an indoor facility. Jeff’s brother, Todd — also a 2nd Dan (Black Belt #51), invited us to hold classes at his Cutting Edge sports facility in Lake Forest, for which all the students were extremely grateful. Next, Jeff offered to pay for a “build out” of a room on the second story to house the KIA, stating that it was his gift based on all the KIA had done for him and his business. That wonderful facility lasted until November 2010 when it finally fell victim to the global financial crisis of 2008. There was simply not enough business to keep it or the Cutting Edge afloat. Yet, that studio, made possible by Jeff Norman’s generosity, was a great home for the KIA during those years. Jeff Norman was recognized and honored for his exceedingly generous gift on 28 August 2006.

Boa-Thank you plaque

Boa received his 1st Dan rating on 25 October 2003. In the photo below from his Black Belt test, he is parrying a kick from KIA 2nd Dan Black Belt, Dr. Tim “Odin” McCord.

Boa & Odin, sparring

Boa poses with Mr. King after his test and coronation.

Boa & Whitefire

And here’s a nice shot of Boa prior to competing with a bo in the Black Belt weapons division.

Boa with bo

Life, of course, is never static. Boa and his family moved to Queen Creek, Arizona, approximately twenty-five miles Southeast of downtown Phoenix.

Jeff is now the Managing Director of the National Association of Family Services, which provides families access to legal services at greatly reduced prices with an emphasis on estate planning benefits. His website is Boa travels a great deal in his business giving free seminars and, regarding his work, states:

I can’t tell you how much I have incorporated KIA principles and concepts into my daily business dealings.

When he’s not busy with his work, Boa loves spending time with his lovely wife Michelle, his son and two twin daughters. In fact, Jeff took his son to his first NBA game this month. Two weeks earlier he and Michelle took their daughters to a Justin Bieber concert.

Boa with Michelle & Justin

Oh, and by the way, Boa claims to be the biggest Rams fan on earth and is glad they’re now back in L.A.

Boa in Rams helmet

Thanks for everything you’ve done for the Karate Institute of America, Boa. We’re deeply grateful and miss you and your family! All the best!

Wolverine of the Highest Order

Wolverines are powerful, solitary, tenacious predators. Highly aggressive and fearless, they’re blessed with such great fighting skills that bears, big cats and wolves avoid confrontations with them.

The Karate Institute of America has its own Wolverine, Tejas Maniar, the 57th Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu. Wolverine earned his 1st Dan rating on the 23rd of January 1998, eighteen long (or is that short?) years ago. How fast time flies!

Tejas' Black Belt Ceremony

Pictured with Tejas in this photo of his Black Belt ceremony is Mr. Dave “Rugman” Sampson, the 42nd Black Belt of the Kiado-Ryu, a KIA instructor and great mentor to Wolverine. Other visible individuals in the photo are, from left to right: Taka “Wadachild” Wada (Black Belt #43) seated in the black gi on the wall; Mr. Vince “Sly” Weber (Black Belt #41) seated on the floor behind Mr. Sampson; Heather “Burner” Corn (Black Belt #37, now Riggs) seated to Mr. Weber’s left; Anna “Wildcat” Griffin (Black Belt #55) in the white gi.

Tejas was always the epitome of a great young man and great student. Respectful, honorable, smart, disciplined, controlled, good-natured and humorous, Wolverine was one of those young men you just liked to be around. Such an instructor’s dream!

And, true to his nature, he has continued living his life in the same manner, but why would he not? After attending UC San Diego, where he met his future wife, Shweta, Tejas joined a small start-up company that successfully grew and was eventually sold. He moved to Cleveland, Ohio, becoming a Midwest sports fan. The Cavaliers are his favorite basketball team.

In 2013, he moved back to California, joined Google, and continued learning and honing his business skills. Moving up the ladder, he joined Mayfield Fund, a venture capital firm. He is now Vice-President and enjoys his job working closely with entrepreneurs in growing their businesses.

Tejas and Shweta welcomed their first son, Taavish, in December of 2015, and are now experiencing the joy of parenting, inclusive of all its demands, responsibilities and sleepless nights. Ah! The joys of parenthood. But not to worry. The Maniar family is wonderful. Their second son, Soham, achieved a 2nd Degree Brown Belt before he went off to college. Great memories. Great family. We wish them all well in their future endeavors.

Tejas and Family

Robert Barnhart Accounting

Robert Barnhart Accounting

Need a good accountant? Robert “Bob” Barnhart, owner of Barnhart Accounting in San Clemente, has been the official accountant of the Karate Institute of America for over thirty years. The reason? Bob is an excellent accountant, honest and personable. He does great work at a reasonable fee. If you need or are looking for a competent person to handle your tax needs, Bob Barnhart is a great choice. He’s easy to talk to and will give you excellent service. The KIA recommends him, so give him a call.

1810 South El Camino Real # F
San Clemente, CA 92672
(949) 498-2710

KIA National Forms Champion, CEO & Successful Entrepreneur

Our KIA feature of the week highlights another National Forms Champion who is also Founder and CEO of a very successful business enterprise.

Steve “Coyote” Vertun, Kiado-Ryu Black Belt #39, received his 1st Dan rating in December of 1995.

With a determined, relentless, never-give-up mindset, Coyote won the Brown Belt Forms Championship in 1993, a competitive circuit of thirteen major United States cities. Steve is one of four Karate Institute of America students to win a coveted national martial arts championship hosted by the North American Sports Karate Association (NASKA). The other three are Doug Krause, Steven Ho and Steve Maynock.

Magazine Cover of Coyote

Steve Vertun’s success in life is not restricted to the world of martial arts. He is the Founder and CEO of Segue, a Lake Forest–based company which “designs, implements and executes cutting-edge Reverse Logistics strategies and processes” for businesses, a company which Steve is proud to say is now in its twenty-eighth year! Quite an accomplishment, indeed.

Coyote Segue

Segue is not a small company either. It’s huge and befits a man whose spirit, courage, business acumen and success are worthy of its size and stature.

Coyote Segue Full

Steve “Coyote” Vertun’s accomplishments are not limited to business and martial arts. He is also an accomplished guitarist and lead singer for his own band, a “hot yoga” instructor, long-distance runner, husband and father—quite a lot of talent for one man, for one extremely accomplished and successful man. We’re deeply grateful that Coyote is one of our very own Kiado-Ryu Black Belts!

Photo of the Week: KIA Karate Kids - Early 1980s

KIA Karate Kids - Early 1980s

Here’s a wonderful flashback to the early 1980s and a Saturday morning KIA kids class with instructors Greg “Maddog” Bendel and Rose “Renegade” Hoberg. Rose became the 12th KIA Black Belt; Greg the 14th.

How cute these kids were! And they could never be tired out! The ages of these children were 5 to 7. Simply adorable.

A couple things of note:

  1. This photo was taken at the main studio on the corner of Lambert and Aspen streets in Lake Forest.
  2. Notice the blue bags on the floor. We still have them, although they’re quite worn. Real troopers.
  3. The only Black Belts at the time were Steven “Widi” Ho and Jerry “Bones” Gentry, both 2nd Dans as is noticeable by the two red stripes on their Black Belts hanging above the mirror (Ho’s is the grey gi top in the foreground; Gentry’s the black gi top with the red bandana he used to wear). The KIA now has 64 Black Belts on its distinguished Wall. With an average of six years training time from white belt to Black Belt, one can appreciate how challenging it was and still is to ascend to the Black Belt level. It is an elite group, to be sure, representing 2% of all Karate Institute of America students throughout its continuing journey to date (March, 2016).

Photo owned and copyrighted by Genny “Cougar” Edge, KIA Black Belt #13; published with permission.

Photo of the Week: Black Belt Biker

KIA Black Belts are diverse individuals. Mike “Shooter” Benedict is one such person. One of his hobbies is being a biker, and he’s placing that “Benedict focus” into a fun and healthy passion.

Shooter is the 62nd Black Belt of the Karate Institute of America. He is also a 2nd Dan. His youngest son, Greg, aka, “Earthquake,” is the 59th Black of the KIA – another terrific father/son Black Belt duo.

Mr. Benedict stopped by class last week after another 2-3 hour bike ride. In this first photo he’s flanked by 5th Dan Master, Kim “Cultivator” Thomas, and 1st Dan, Tristan “Raptor” Ligtvoet.

Raptor, Shooter, Cultivator

Shooter has been riding three days a week on average since the Fall of 2008. His average rides are 2 to 3 hours. He loves it because the cardio helps keep his weight down and health in check. He has two bikes—one road and one mountain, the latter being his favorite. Four years ago he became a member of the ASG racing team, which races in local cross-country events during the summer months. The best aspect of belonging to ASG for Shooter is the fund raising the team does for local charities. This is true to who Mike Benedict is. He is and has always been one to help others. He has been a great asset to our Kiado-Ryu legacy and we are all very proud of his accomplishments.

Shooter, Whitefire

Photo of the Week: A Black Belt Pinky Champion

What in the world is “A Black Belt Pinky Champion?” It is a rather interesting question, is it not? Well, the Karate Institute of America has its own one-of-a-kind Black Belt Pinky Champion?

He is Doug “Pinky” Krause, KIA Black Belt #48, who received his 1st Dan rating on 1 February 1997, nineteen years ago!

Pinky’s National Championship was earned in 1993 on the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA) circuit, which consisted of 13 cities in the United States hosting open, all comers tournaments. Mr. Krause won the Intermediate men’s open hand forms division.

A Black Belt Pinky Champion

But Pinky’s forms championship doesn’t tell the whole story. He was also the runner-up in the men’s fighting division, having lost a national fighting championship by only one point! It was a marvelous year for Doug Krause, and he represented the Karate Institute of America honorably and professionally.

It was a wonderful reunion when Mr. King met Mr. Krause for lunch. Always the respectful gentleman, Pinky was front and center with our KIA salute. Returned, of course, by Whitefire with sincere respect and joy. It was especially delightful because there was Pinky wearing his patented pink headband, so ubiquitous during his tenure at the KIA, and he was even standing in front of the same brand of vehicle he owned back in the day! Amazing. Talk about deja vu!

Dual Vehicle

Pinky is more than a martial artist. He is also an accomplished dirt bike racer. He loves to go fast! Still does, although he’s slowing down a bit, as we all are in these advancing years. Check out Pinky’s racing jersey! Pretty cool, eh?


It was such a heart-warming, positive and tender moment reconnecting with Mr. Krause, as it is and has been with so many KIA faithfuls. Thanks, Pinky, for all the wonderful memories and for being such a substantive part of our rich Karate Institute of America legacy and history!


Photo of the Week: Great Words of Freedom

Dwight D. Eisenhower
5 Star General & U.S. President

Great Words of Freedom

The following quotation is from one of America’s greatest men, Dwight D. Eisenhower. It is highly germane to today’s environment. It is also important for millennial children to understand because America’s future will one day be in their hands.

If all that Americans want is security they can go to prison. They’ll have enough to eat, a bed and a roof over their heads. But if an American wants to preserve his dignity and his equality as a human being, he must not bow his neck to any dictatorial government.

History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid.