Ken Yu Kan Karate School   

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Ken Yu Kan Karate Atascadero
Welcome to Our Website!

Founded by Sensei Richard Gracie in 1973, Ken Yu Kan Karate School, now headed by Sensei Michael Croft, has been dedicated to providing the highest quality martial arts instruction, specifically authentic, traditional Japanese Karate, to the Atascadero, Templeton & Paso Robles area...

Ken Yu Kan Martial Arts is celebrating its 40th anniversary in Atascadero! Find out why so many people just like you have chosen to learn the martial arts and all it has to offer at Ken Yu Kan. We practice Shotokan Karate-Do, the most widely practiced style of Karate in Japan. Shotokan is a proven, balanced martial art that provides a student with unsurpassed self-defense techniques, as well as providing superior physical conditioning. At Ken Yu Kan, you'll learn the self-defense skills you need, sharpen your mental skills, lose weight, and develop lean muscle.

Train with the area’s finest, most experienced martial artists in a friendly, helpful, traditional, NON-COMPETITIVE environment. Whether you are complete beginner to the martial arts, or you've trained previously and wish to further your training, you are welcome & encouraged to visit our beautiful Dojo. Start enjoying the martial arts today, taught with intergrity, the way it was originally intended.

We hope you enjoy our website and will stop by and visit us if you are in the area. This site is designed to give you information about our facility, our style of martial arts, our staff and provide you with information on how to contact us as well.

New Dojo

Ken Yu Kan's state-of-the-art Training Facility

Ken Yu Kan (Translated "The House of Fists & Friendship") offers one of the finest Dojos (training facilities) in the U.S., located right here locally at 3210 El Camino Real. We're located about halfway between Kennedy Club Fitness and the Mission Oaks Annex at Del Rio Rd. (Big Lots, Etc.). Just look for the red "KEN YU KAN Martial Arts" sign on our building, along with the red Shotokan Tiger symbol. Our clean, modern facility is nearly twice the size of our old location and nothing has been spared to create this beautiful, 3,600 square foot Dojo. It promises to be the finest martial arts training center you've experienced. More news is coming, but in the meantime, please note our new address. We look forward to seeing you here!

Ken Yu Kan

What is Karate?

"True karate is this: that in daily life one's mind and body be trained and developed in a spirit of humility, and that in critical times, one be devoted utterly to the cause of justice."
-- Gichin Funakoshi, Founder of Shotokan Karate-Do and creator of the phrase "Karate"

Karate Karate translated either means "Chinese hand" or "Empty hand" depending on which Japanese or Chinese characters you use to write it.

Okinawan Karate styles tend to be hard and external. In defense they tend to be circular, and in offense linear. Karate Okinawan Karate styles tend to place more emphasis on rigorous physical conditioning than the Japanese styles. Japanese styles tend to have longer, more stylistic movements and to be higher commitment. They also tend to be linear in movement, offense, and defense.

Both tend to be high commitment, and tend to emphasize kicks and punches, blocks, strikes, evasions, throws, joint manipulations and a strong offense as a good defense. Karate techniques consist basically of hand and foot techniques. Hand techniques are divided into defensive or offensive moves. Foot techniques are divided into kicking techniques; snap and thrust kicks. Other important elements of Karate include stances, posture, body shifting, hip rotation, and breathing.


Training differs widely but most of the Karate styles emphasize a fairly equal measure of basic technique training (kihon), sparring (kumite), and forms (kata). Forms are stylized patterns of attacks and defenses done in sequence for training purposes.

An art of self-defense as well as a sport, Karate has in recent decades proliferated worldwide. It is one of the most widely practiced of the Asian martial arts, with a large following in the U.S., Japan and Europe. For more information about martial arts, click on "you should know" on the left of this page.

Ken Yu Kan Karate Dominates Valley Championships

Training paid off for the Ken Yu Kan Adult Competition Team. Lead by Coach Olaf Saul, nine competitors prepared with additional training for the Valley Championship since August. The dedication was rewarded in a fantastic manner, because these 9 competitors netted 19 trophies at the Exeter Karate Tournament in November, despite the large number of competitors from across California and many different martial arts. Certainly overcoming the odds stacked against them, since many team members never competed before.

To quote Sensei Olaf Saul, “It is beyond remarkable that every single team member either won or placed in their division.” The winning competitors were: Clark Hamann, Barrett Maki, Samantha Dunn, Lauren Robinson, Bako Lazarashvili, Jake Keller, Kyle Christiansen, Laura Tapanes. Additionally, Coach Olaf Saul himself made a clean sweep by winning Grand Champion in both Kata (Forms) and Kumite (Point Fighting), beating a total of 15 other Black Belts.

Head Instructor Michael Croft stated that he knew they'll do well, since they were so well-prepared, but this result exceeded his expectations by far.

Below are photos of (L-R,Front Row) Laura Tapanes, Samantha Dunn, Lauren Robinson, Bako Lazarishvili. (L-R, Back Row) Sensei Olaf Saul (Team Head Coach), Barrett Maki, Clark Hamann, Kyle Christiansen, Jake Keller, Sensei Renee Leton, and Sensei Michael Croft (Ken Yu Kan Martial Arts Head Instructor):

Michael Croft and Olaf Saul