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Exploring Life & Business with John Hileman of Japanese Karate Academy

Today we’d like to introduce you to John Hileman.

John, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Started training in martial arts as a teenager because I was a small kid with a smart mouth… I got beat up a lot. Trained with a friend for a couple years until I moved away for college at Texas Tech, which is when I found a legitimate teacher. Trained in multiple styles of martial arts, reaching black belt in a few. Upon moving to the Kansas City area, I was fortunate enough to find my greatest instructor, who taught a style of Karate that basically combined all the things I had learned in the past. I received my black belt from him in ’97, and at his urging, opened my first school the next year. I took some time off during medic school while becoming a Paramedic/Firefighter.

In 2011, I started this little school solely for the purpose of training my son. Slowly, other kids (and adults) would notice what we were doing and ask to join us. I eventually turned it into a legitimate business. We’re not a huge school. I would rather have five serious students than 30 who are just there to play around. Coming from a military family, and with my primary instructor being a counter-terrorism specialist, it seems natural that our focus is self-defense and hand-to-hand combat. But we do have a lot of fun with it and keep it enjoyable for the little ones.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have definitely been some difficult times along the way. When we first started, we were using an old racquetball court in the 360 Gymnastics building, which used to be a Gold’s Gym. Since we were not really bringing in a lot of money, we were the lowest priority, so we were moved from one room to another. We really didn’t have any punching bags or gloves, so instead, I just let the students punch and kick me as hard as they could… yes, even the adults. Of course, the Covid-19 shutdown almost closed our doors for good. When we opened back up in July, we had lost over half of our students and couldn’t even pay rent. We have slowly been building back up, and will hopefully be back to pre-Covid numbers by the end of the summer.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Japanese Karate Academy?
We are a Japanese-based Karate school focusing on self-defense. We enjoy the fun of competition, but it is not our primary goal. We try to keep our prices as affordable as possible and we do not limit how many classes a student can attend.

How can people work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
We’re always looking for any way possible to get our name out there and let people know what we’re doing. We offer self-defense classes customized to your specific needs. We also love coming to your office, location, or even home neighborhood to teach self-defense classes.


  • $75 per month
  • $60 per month for additional family members
  • 20% First responder and Military discount
  • $30/class for private, 2-hr self-defense classes

Contact Info:

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1 Comment

  1. Andrew

    July 31, 2021 at 3:40 am

    Our daughter has loved learning from Sensei John. I encourage anyone looking to get into karate to come by and give it a try. You won’t be disappointed!

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