Jim Kelton, the founder of Lakewood Budo Kai, being encouraged by his instructor to open his own dojo and did so on May 8, 1979. When the first class was held he had a grand total of nine students, four students in Jujitsu and five in Karate. That very first night there were no mats, so Jujitsu students worked out on the bare floor; the students weren't very happy with that and it wasn't long before Jim was gifted with some mats from his instructor, Professor Beaver.
Starting at the Lakewood, CA YMCA and eventually moved to the City of Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine where we hold classes out of a local city park building and has been doing so to this day.
During the 1980’s the foundation for a healthy school was laid with the teaching of Japanese Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate. Growing in students the school flourished. Some students from the 80’s, that have left for various reasons, have returned and continued to learn and train here.
During the 1990’s we continued to grow in size so much that we were moved to one of the City of Long Beach’s larger park social halls to accommodate the growing class. And when I say growing, we had a class in which we had 65 students on the mats at one time. At this time Jim felt he needed to give back to the community which had supported him so much in growing the school; so, he put together and started teaching a Women’s Self Defense Class to women in the area, and to this day it is still taught.
During the 2000’s the school continues to go strong. During this time the Jujitsu class got so big the decision was made to split it into two classes, a junior’s class and an adult’s class. In May of 2009, the school celebrated it’s 30-year anniversary. For this we not only received a Letter of Recognition from the Mayor of Long Beach we received one from the Governor of California. With the milestone we became the longest running martial arts school in the City of Long Beach, and one of the longest running ones in the County of Los Angeles.
In the 2010’s we have a total of 80 to 100 students split between the three class, junior’s jujitsu, adult’s jujitsu and adult’s karate. We continue to teach Women’s Self Defense Classes to the local women, and some for big entities such as County of Los Angeles Outreach, City of Hawaiian Gardens, Southern California Edison, and the Aquarium of the Pacific. In 2017, we participated in the 50th anniversary of the Kodenkan Yudanshakai, a major martial arts organization that we are a member of since our school’s inception.
Now in 2018, coming up on the schools 40-year anniversary, Jim Kelton, the Schools Founder, made the decision to retire from active teaching and has appointed a long-time student, Russell Kelley as the schools new Head Instructor. Even though he is retiring Jim will still be a figure head in the school and continue to be involved in all its aspects.
Each one of our past and present students have made this school what it is today.
Meaning of the Lakewood Budo Kai School Name
Lakewood – we use Lakewood because the school first started at the Lakewood YMCA in the City of Lakewood, CA.
Budo – is often translated as “the Way of the Warrior” or “Way of Stopping Conflict”
Kai – is the Japanese word for “School”
When you put them all together; Lakewood Budo Kai literally translates to “The Lakewood School of Stopping Conflict”. We use the words “Budo Kai” as a reminder that we learn martial arts not to fight, but to stop conflict.