Shotokan Karate Academy Head Instructor
Ricardo E. Llewelyn
Sensei Ricardo Llewelyn has been practicing Shotokan Karate since 1970. He holds a Kyu-Dan (9th Degree Black Belt) in Shotokan Karate and has been granted titles of Hanshi, Kyoshi, and Shihan with the International San Ten Karate Association (ISKA). Hanshi Llewelyn is the President of the ISKA, founded by Sensei Vincent Cruz in 1979. Sensei Llewelyn is also ranked with the Dai-Ichi Shotokan Karate Association (DSKA), headed by Sensei Ricardo Johns and the International Traditional Karate Federation (ITKF), headed by the late great Master Hidetaka Nishiyama.
Originally from Panama, Sensei Llewelyn began his karate studies in his native country in 1970 under Sensei Ricardo Johns, a student of Sensei Vincent Cruz. When Sensei Johns departed Panama in 1971, Sensei Llewelyn continued training under Sensei Enrique Kelly and Sensei Percival (PJ) Jordan, under whom he achieved his Shodan in 1973. Upon Sensei Johns return to Panama in 1973, Sensei Llewelyn resumed his training under him. In 1974 Sensei Llewelyn migrated to the U.S., where he continued training independently, with regular visits to Panama for training with Sensei Johns.
Sensei Llewelyn joined the US Navy, where he also taught Karate classes from 1975 to 1981. In 1985 he joined the Shotokan Karate Institute in Oakland, California, headed by Sensei Sharifi, 9th Dan, who was affiliated with the AAKF and ITKF, under Sensei Nishiyama. Sensei Llewelyn became affiliated himself with the AAKF and ITKF during this period. In this same time frame, Sensei Llewelyn re-established connections with his roots through the DSKA and became affiliated with the ISKA, headed by Sensei Vincent Cruz, headquartered in Madera, California.
Sensei Llewelyn taught Karate at the Mariners Square Athletic Club, Alameda, CA from 1986 to 1993 and in 1992, inspired by his daughter LeDonna, founded the Shotokan Karate Academy (SKA), fulfilling a life-long dream of owning his own dojo. LeDonna was his first SKA student and progressed to a high kyu level. LeDonna is now living and working in Sacramento and has 8 year old twins, a boy and a girl, who train when they come to visit.
Since the SKA opened in 1992, Sensei Llewelyn has promoted over twenty Black Belts. Each of his students receive the same instruction passed on to him from Sensei Johns, Sensei Cruz, and Sensei Obata (Sensei Obata, was a student of Sensei Gichin Funakoshi). Two of Sensei Llewelyn’s prominent students from Panama, Armando Jemmott and Ivan Haywood, are now both full Sensei in their own right and have sister dojos in Southern California and New Jersey, respectively.
As Sensei Llewelyn continues to train and further develop his karate, he shares his knowledge freely with his students. Sensei Llewelyn was deeply influenced by some of the best Karate practitioners, including Sensei Nishiyama, Sensei Hiroshi Shirai, Sensei Oichi, Sensei Kawazoe, Sensei Robert Stevenson, Sesei Gary Ellis, Sensei Kenneth Funakoshi, Sensei Okazaki, Sensei Yaguchi and Sensei Kanazawa, to mention only a few. Sensei Llewelyn was also influenced by Sensei Lionel Worrell, who recently departed us. The late Sensei Nishiyama and Sensei Vincent Cruz (RIP), continue to be the most influential forces in his continued growth.
The underlying principle of the SKA is to "seek perfection of character through the perfection of technique". Sensei Llewelyn is known among his peers for being meticulous about technique and form. He is often sought to teach the intricacies and details of kata. Emphasis on this principle, and drawing references to the application of kata in self defense and kumite (sparring), has helped his students to develop courage and a positive demeanor in karate, which transcends into their daily lives.
Since the passing of his teacher, Master Vincent Cruz, on December 24, 2015, Sensei Llewelyn has assumed the role of President of the International San Ten Karate Association alongside ISKA Technical Director, Sensei Robert Stevenson.