Lakewood Budo Kai Instructors - Lakewood Budo Kai

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Lakewood Budo Kai Instructors

About Us
Jim Kelton, Shihan
Dojo Founder
Hachidan 8th degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate
Shichidan 7th degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu
Sandan 3rd degree black belt in Kodenkan Judo
Nidan 2nd degree black belt in Iai sword drawing

Jim began his martial arts training in 1964 at the age of 11 while living in Tucson, Arizona where he was introduced to the art of Judo. Two years later, Jim expanded his grounding in the martial arts studying Danzan Ryu Jujitsu under Dai Shihan Joe Holck, founder of the Kodenkan Yudanshakai and the art of Shorin Ryu Karate under Shihan Barry Holck.
Jim continued training with the Kodenkan Yudanshakai until 1977 when he relocated to California. In California, Jim concentrated his training in Jujitsu under Professor Carl Beaver, co-founder of Jujitsu America. Two years later, with Professor Beaver's encouragement, Jim started his own Dojo. Jim is widely regarded in the martial arts community as a traditionalist. He strives to uphold traditional Japanese Samurai martial arts and Okinawan philosophies. Jim passes the arts down in the purest, most historically accurate manner possible, as his instructors passed down the arts to him. Jim is proud that Lakewood Budo Kai is recognized as one of the longest running martial arts schools in Los Angeles County and celebrated its 40-year anniversary in May 2019.
Russell Kelley, Sensei
Head Instructor
Sandan 3rd degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu
Sandan 3rd degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate

Russell, a Long Beach native, had a long-time interest in the martial arts always visiting local Martial Arts schools to watch their classes. After contemplation and with some persistency, he convinced his parents to allow him to train. Together they performed a detailed search of the local area and found Lakewood Budo Kai, where he began Danzan Ryu Jujitsu in April of 1986. It was a family affair introduction to Jujitsu, where his brother and sister were also participants! Eventually, since Lakewood Budo Kai emphasized dual training, he decided to begin Shorin Ryu Karate.
He has had the honor, early in his martial arts career, to travel to Tucson, AZ for introductory and advanced training classes from both Dai Shihan Joe Holck and Professor Carl Beaver, two very high-ranking individuals under the Kodenkan Yudanshakai and Shoshin Ryu organizational umbrellas. After leaving to serve time on active duty in the United States Marine Corps, he returned to Long Beach and Lakewood Budo Kai, bringing with him the leadership traits and principles he retained from the Marines, along with his strong personal drive, positivity, determination and dedication. He believes that everyone with the ambition can learn martial arts and excel in them; His overall Motto is: "A black belt is just a white belt that never quit!"
Jeff Smith, O'Sensei
Godan 5th degree Black Belt Danzan Ryu Jujitsu

Jeff began his martial arts training in Tucson, AZ more than 50 years ago in the 1960's participating in both Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and Kodenkan Judo competition. As an avid outdoorsman, he has travelled all over the United States hiking and camping, completing the 210-mile John Muir trail on multiple occasions. His numerous facets include: Former Boy Scout Leader, Youth Sports Coach, YMCA group leadership instructor and possesses a certification in youth safety training. Some of his hobbies are automotive restoration, acoustical guitar in the classical form, artistry/sketching and deep thought.
He has been a member and instructor at Lakewood Budo Kai for 25 years and is also a current Kodenkan Yudanshakai board member. Jeff’s talents and accolades have helped him pursue martial arts to the highest level. When he is teaching or demonstrating, students are always impressed with his commitment to the martial arts program at Lakewood Budo Kai.
Robert Mekemson, Sensei
Yondan 4th degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu
Yondan 4th degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate

Rob has been involved with martial arts for over two decades. He was initially introduced to the arts while in elementary school, where he joined a local Judo school that travelled to competitions throughout the San Joaquin Valley. Another element that drew him towards the arts was that his area was a very prolific wrestling magnet for middle and high schools as well as local colleges, where he thrived in competition. In the back of his mind he had always had a desire to learn martial arts to the instructor level and when the opportunity came, he grasped it.
The reason he chose Danzan Ryu Jujitsu and eventually Shorin Ryu Karate is because of his background in wrestling and strong desire to learn a traditional form of self-defense. It turned out they were an excellent complement! He believes that the basic fundamentals and functional body movements, combined with clear mental focus are the building blocks of any system. This is the essence of martial arts training! The ability to visualize several alternatives to any scenario, and combining that with the trained confidence that you can get through any situation, is a foundational mindset he tries to convey to all students. “The true martial artist steps into the dojo with a clear mind and ready to train.” This along with his strong desire and commitment to fitness training, mentoring, ability to motivate & inspire, collaborating with the staff of Black Belts on student direction, as well as simplistic approaches to teaching, are all part of his philosophy and instruction.
Dan Weinell, Sensei
Sandan 3rd degree black belt in Danzan Ryu Jujitsu
Sandan 3rd degree black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate

Dan has been with Lakewood Budo Kai for over twenty-four years. His primer to martial arts was that of a spectator, since his sons were enrolled in the junior jujitsu class.  When the head instructor told Dan he should participate, it was at that moment his journey began.  His professional background, a retired Special Education Teacher with a Master's Degree in Theatre Arts, allows him to take on a unique approach.  His teaching skills and experience combined with his knowledge of Lakewood Budo Kai’s core arts are part of his collective.
Dan is a great role model, and is constantly working with students, looking for improvement on any level.  He also takes the initiative by responding immediately to questions and requests to demonstrate.  He is continuing his martial art journey by becoming familiar with a variety of weapons and other advanced techniques and by embracing the Japanese culture by learning their traditions. He intends to keep teaching and being involved with Lakewood Budo Kai for as long as he can.
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