The High Dan Board for the American Karate Black Belt Association–Chin Sook Hage Kwan is made up of distinguished leaders of the martial arts who must be 8th Dan or higher. They have been elected based criteria which includes their status as true Texas martial arts pioneers. They set the standards for membership and rank certifications. The High Dan Board serves as the legal Board of Directors of the Corporation. They are listed alphabetically (with the Chairman and Executive Director listed first).
Grandmaster Keith D. Yates, 10th Dan, Chairman
Chairman of the High Dan Board, 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.
Charles G. Bouton, 10th Dan, Executive Director
Charles Bouton began his training in a style that eventually became known as Dai Ni Gojuryu, but at the time called “Tode.” He developed an immediate love for the martial arts that has never left him. In addition to the Gojuryu system, which he heads as president and headmaster of its international association, he trained in judo, aikido, jujitsu, batto-jutsu, iaido, aiki-jujitsu, and two styles of tae kwon do.
Bouton associated with Allen Steen’s group in the 1960s. The average karate student of the era was generally in his 20s, Bouton, being 5 to 10 years younger than his peer black belt group in the Dallas area, was generally considered a “kid,” and not taken too seriously by the older generation who were active in tournament competition. But, two of Allen Steen’s instructors, Richard Jenkins and James Toney took him under their wing and instructing him in Steen’s brand of “Blood and Guts” Karate. Bouton had the opportunity to train under such Pioneers as Steen, Pat Burleson, and Skipper Mullins, Royce Young, and Art Heller, as well as train and teach with the likes of Keith Yates, David Archer, Bob Potter, Billy Simmons, Fred Wren, Dennis Gotcher, Ronnie Cox, Dennis Cox, Demetrius Havanus, Jim Butin, and the many other fine stars of the Steen/Burleson stable.
Because of his early entry into the arts he had a tournament career as a black belt that spanned two decades. He had wins in such national tournaments as the US Karate Championships, the Central North American Karate Championships, Jack Hwang’s All American Tae Kwon Do Open, and held a World Lightheavy Weight Full Contact Karate/Kickboxing title, undefeated, for three years. For years he taught in Steen’s Lubbock school, while continuing to practice and teach the Dai Ni Gojuryu System in both, his own school in Plainview, Texas, and in a club located at a local Lubbock television station. Almost all of his Dai Ni Gojuryu students, also, became students at Steen’s Lubbock school, and a number of Steen’s Lubbock school students became Dai Ni Gojuryu students. Thus began a marriage of the two systems.
After Steen sold the Lubbock Texas Karate Institute school to the local program director, Bouton, along with Andy White opened their own school, known as the American Ni-Goju Karate Association. Mr. Bouton, also known as “Father Photius Bouton,” is an Ordained Greek Orthodox Priest. Since opening his Lubbock school and promoting many fine black belts, his religious vocation became more and more demandingly, and he sold the Lubbock Karate School to his senior student, John Liles, 7th Dan, and relocated to his Parish responsibilities in Amarillo, Texas.
Mr. Bouton is the “senior member” of the current board in total years of training having trained over 54 years in the Dai Ni Gojuryu karate system and holding black belt ranking over 47 years.
While residing for 7 years in Amarillo, Bouton came under the instruction of Texas martial arts legend, Judo and Aikido instructor, Tim Joe. Mr. Joe, a 9th Dan in Kihara Aikido and an 8th Dan (USJA) in Judo influenced Bouton to modify concepts of movement in the Dai Ni Gojuryu System. Bouton earned and advanced in black belt ranking in both Kihara Aikido and Judo under Tim Joe. Bouton continues to teach and practice Judo and Kihara Aikido under Tim Joe’s direction.
In September of 2005, the Church transferred Bouton to St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in El Paso, Texas, where he continues to serve. He served as High Dan Board Chairman from 1981–1997 and as Executive Director of the Association since 1981. Bouton was inducted into the Texas Martial Arts Hall of Fame in May of 2000.
Bouton wears many hats. He is forever busy, traveling to give a test in some city, teaching a Karate, Aikido, Aikijitsu, Batto Jutsu, Judo, Jujitsu, or Tuite and Kyusho Jutsu seminar, and attending to the managerial duties of the Association.
Master Dennis Cox, 8th Dan
Master Cox was one of the first champions and teachers of Texas Karate in the 1970s. His list of tournament wins as well as champion students is long and impressive. He has served in law enforcement and as a special investigator. He is also the younger brother of Ronnie Cox, who was one of the founders of the AKBBA-CSHK.
Master Steve Doss, 8th Dan
Master Doss has traveled and competed (and won) around the globe. He grew up as a neighbor and family friend of the legendary Jim Harrison, with whom he has trained for many years. Mr. Doss also holds the distinction of being one of only a dozen black belts of Demetrius “Greek” Havanas. Besides winning many championships in the U.S. (including the U.S. Open, the All American and the Masters National) in 1990 he defeated the defending Korean National Champion with a head kick winning the Heavyweight Title of the Korean Nationals in Pusan, Korea. He holds black belts in five different arts and has trained with Dr. He Young Kimm, Remy Presas and Wally Jay. Master Doss currently runs a successful school in Austin and is the founder of a new fitness program, Impact Strong, for martial artists and people just interested in staying healthy and fit.
Master Linda Denley, 8th Dan
One of 12 children, Linda Denley was born in Houston. A natural athlete, she participated and excelled in many sports as a teenager. She began martial arts in 1973 in Tang Soo Do with Robert Torres in order to enhance her performance in other sports. Within two years she had earned black belt and was winning tournaments. While still in high school, Denley qualified for the Olympics in five track and field events, but was declared ineligible due to her professional winnings on the karate circuit. In 1979 she gave up an offer to play semi-pro basketball for the Houston Angels because of her burgeoning karate career.
Known across the nation as the “Texas Terror,” Denley’s aggressive, hard-hitting style made her the most feared competitor in the woman’s divisions (and for many men, if truth be told). She was rated number-one from 1973 to 1996. At one point she went nine years without losing a match. Denley won the Battle of Atlanta 11 times, The Diamond Nationals three times, The U.S. Open nine times, The Long Beach Internationals four times and the U.S. Capital Classic nine times. Denley was “Competitor of the year” by several Hall of Fame organizations including Mars Hall of Fame (1988), NASKA Hall of Fame (1994) and the Diamond National Hall of Fame (1989). She was the first female to be inducted into the Black Belt Magazine Hall of Fame (1980) and was the PKL and Kick Illustrated “Competitor of the Year” in 1982.
She runs her own school, the Texas Black Belt Academy in Houston. Denley gives seminars around the country and promotes her annual Space City Open Karate Championships in Houston. Each year her alma mater, Jefferson Davis High School, has a Linda Denley Day in honor of her achievements. We are pleased to have her serve as a member of the High-Dan Board.
Grandmaster Roy D. Kurban, 10th Dan
Roy Kurban began his martial arts training in 1965 under Texas Karate greats Allen Steen, Larry Caster and Skipper Mullins; earning his black belt in 1968. While in the U.S. Army he also spent a full year in Korea training with Grand Master Won Chik Park. Mr. Kurban is one of the most decorated fighters in the history of sport karate. He won 127 awards in national and international competition including over 80 first places and grand championships. He was ranked in the “Top Ten” fighters by Black Belt Magazine, Karate Illustrated, Official Karate and Professional Karate. Mr. Kurban was a founding member of the Amateur Organization of Karate (AOK). He was named the Black Belt Magazine Man of the Year in 1981 and is in too many world Halls of Fame to list. He served many years as a certified peace officer and judge in Arlington, Texas. He currently holds the Tenth Degree from the AKBBA-CSHK awarded by Allen Steen and J. Pat Burleson in 2011, an Eighth Degree Black Belt from the United States Taekwondo Grandmaster’s Society, and is one of the very few Americans to receive an Instructor Certificate from the Kukkiwon World Headquarters, Seoul, Korea.
Master John Liles, 8th Dan
As the Head Instructor and President of Premier Martial Arts in Lubbock, Texas, Grand Master Liles inherently believes that each student who walks through his door is someone whom he is meant to impact in a positive way. He also has the unique ability to personally connect with each individual (parent and student alike) while maintaining the Instructor/Student relationship. His sense of humor and smile create a fun, family atmosphere for learning.
Mr. Liles holds earned black belt in Tae Kwon Do (8th dan), Okinawan Karate (8th), Batto Jutsu (1st) and Kobudo (2nd). He serves on the National Board of Directors of Premier Martial Arts and received their 2008 Award of Excellence. His school was voted into the top 100 black belt schools in the U.S. by United Professionals and has maintained that distinction for 14 years running.
Grandmaaster Jose Santamaria, 10th Dan
One of the earliest black belts in MuDukKwan and Taekwondo in Texas Mr. Santamaria has operated schools across the state and one of the first promoters of sport karate and professional kickboxing in the country. Grandmaster Santamaria teaches at Santamaria’s Karate and Kickboxing in Wylie, Texas. He and was promoted to 10th Dan in 2013 in recognition of his achievements and contributions to the martial arts in Texas and beyond.
Master Steve Selby, 8th Dan
Master Selby inherited his love for the martial arts from his father, Prentiss Selby, an ex-navy lieutenant commander and collegiate boxing champion. At age three Steve got his first boxing gloves. But it wasn’t until his teens that he discovered Allen Steen’s Texas Karate Institute. He began his karate training in 1974 as a 14-year-old under the late Ronnie Cox, one of the toughest competitors in the U.S. during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Master Selby earned his 1st degree Black Belt from Allen Steen in 1978. He was a stable mate of U.S. Champion, Tim Kirby, and both were dynamic and successful competitors in the late 70s and early 80s. Following his instructor, Ronnie Cox’s unfortunate death, Selby continued his training with kickboxing pioneer, Demetrius “Greek” Havanas, and world champion, Raymond McCallum. However, his lifelong goal of becoming a world champion, in his own right, was shattered in 1981 when he sustained a near fatal basal skull fracture. Despite doctors’ poor prognosis for recovery, Selby, remarkably, rehabilitated himself to regain most all his previous abilities.
Stephen Selby founded the Dallas Karate Academy in North Dallas in 1986, which has grown into one of the nation’s finest martial arts academies. The school’s unique concept incorporates serious training in kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu in a professional environment. His system includes formal training in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan, Modern Arnis, Small-circle Jiu Jitsu, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Selby, also, offers Kickbox Aerobics, a program that he developed along with long-time friend, Steven Doss. The two were the first in Texas to incorporate this into their schools.
He has trained with jujitsu great Wally Jay, as well as other top jujitsu instructors. Always considering himself a student, Selby continues to learn by promoting training camps with the world’s greatest instructors, such as Professor Wally Jay, Grandmaster Remy Presas, and Rorian and Royce Gracie. The camps attract martial artists to Dallas from as far away as Australia, Germany and India. Selby, now in his 40s, focuses on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu by training regularly with world champion, Carlos Machado, and Filipino Modern Arnis as a personal student under Grandmaster Remy Presas.
His era marks the beginning of the “second generation” of the Texas “rough and tough” karate style and he maintains the same high standards in his own school. His black belt examination is a tough one, requiring two weeks to complete. Like all of his excellent instructors, he accepts nothing less than perfection. To maintain high standards and respect for the arts, Selby requires that Grandmaster James Toney, Grandmaster Royce Young, and other High Dan Board members sit in on all black belt exams.
Master Selby joined the High Dan Board as its Tournament Director in October of 1996, and presently holds the rank of 8th Dan in Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan, Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan, and Okinawan Dai Ni-Gojuryu, as well as, a 3rd degree in Filipino Modern Arnis.
Robert Smith was born September 28, 1958 in Heidelberg, Germany (an Army brat), and began his martial arts training in 1974 at age 16. He was promoted to 1st black belt in 1982 by the American Karate Association. His first style is Tae Kwon Do Chung Do Kwan. Master Smith, also, holds a 6th dan grade ranking in Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwan. He taught at the local American Karate Association school from 1982–1988, when he opened his school, Tiger’s Den Martial Arts in Bryan/College Station, Texas.
Master Smith is employed in Bryan/College Station, Texas as a police officer, and also serves as Minister of his church. He is very active in his community with the training and assistance for at-risk juveniles.
He has studied tae kwon do under numerous instructors, including: Terry Lee Bryan, 5th Dan of the American Karate Association and Phillip Plumber, 5th Dan of the American Modified Karate Association. He received his his 5th dan from AKBBA–CSHK High Dan Board Members Richard Jenkins and Charles Bouton and currently holds the 8th Dan.
He has studied Pressure Point Defense Tactics at the Texas State Department of Public Safety Academy and is a State Certified Instructor in several areas of Police Officer Defensive Tactics, and Law Officer Street Survival. He is highly proficient in gun, knife, club, grappling, and tonfa self-defense tactics, and is an AKBBA–CSHK Certified Master Teacher.
Retired from competition since 1992, his tournament carrier was distinguished with numerous wins and Grand Champion honors in the black belt heavyweight fighting division including: Houston’s Karate Olympics, Austin’s Capitol City Martial Arts Open Karate Championships, Houston’s Open Tae Kwon Do Championship, Houston’s Southwest Texas Karate Championships, and the Texas Karate Showdown.
Robert Smith has promoted many talented black belts. His students are highly dedicated and skilled, but the most outstanding and evident attributes his students possess are their shining respectful attitudes, dedication, and spirit—a true reflection of the Master Teacher’s touch.
His school, Tiger Den Martial Arts, located in Bryan/College Station, Texas, offers a wide range of instruction in tae kwon do and self defense tactics. He brings to the High Dan Board and the AKBBA Members many years of experience as a teacher, practitioner, competitor, and promoter, as well as his unique background and experience in law enforcement.
Master Smith was elected to the High Dan Board in 1997. He shoulders the future of traditionally strong Texas martial arts and that of the AKBBA-CSHK. The mantle shall be aptly passed to the next generation such as Master Smith. His service is welcomed and has been executed with a maturity and dedication deserving of his stature on the High Dan Board.
Master Philip WIleman, 8th Dan
Grandmaster Wileman was one of the first true fighting champions in Texas Karate. He won tournaments across the Lone Star State and also in many national tournaments. Mr. Wileman was Instrumental in the founding of early full-contact karate and was also a training partner, coach and ring-man for many of the early fighters including Demetrius Havanas and Billy Jackson.