Meet Our Instructors
ALEETA VAN PETTEN
Training at FKU since 1981, Sensei Aleeta is a fourth-degree black belt (fourth dan, pronounced “dahn”) in Sensei Chuzo Kotaka’s open-hand style of shito-ryu, and third dan in his traditional weapons system (kobudo).
“Of course I truly enjoy watching a physically gifted woman develop as a skilled martial artist under my coaching. But for me the most excitement and reward is in helping average women who come to my dojo. What I hope they find at my school, what I try to give them, is a place of acceptance.”
A recently retired physician, Sensei Aleeta brings knowledge of the human body and its capabilities.
“Whether they are a middle-aged middle-class housewife, an exotic dancer, a radical lesbian, a chador-clad Muslim, or a college or high school student, I try to accept my students as they come; whether they cannot possibly do one push-up or if they can do one hundred, if they don't know right from left, whether they're self-confident, over-confident or fearful. My job as I define it as martial arts instructor is to train each woman as she is, help her to set and reset her goal(s), and work with her toward those goals and beyond.”
Sensei Aleeta teaches the kids and adult classes on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.
Elementary School Program & Dojo Instructor, Kids Classes
Training at FKU since 1992, Sensei Joanne earned her second dan black belt in open-hand, and a second dan in kobudo in 2009.
“My focus is toward an intense awareness of the here and now: taking the unique gifts that each student brings to class today and helping them hone their talents to a more fulfilling, more aware, tomorrow.”
A small-business owner by day, Sensei Joanne brings an entrepreneurial spirit and years of experience empowering women. Today she owns Strategic Living LLC, a separate business focused on providing empowerment self-defense training outside a martial arts environment. She began teaching workshops and seminars for women and teen girls in 1995 by assisting Sensei Aleeta in community classes, expanding offerings to the University of Washington’s Women’s Center and beyond.
Sensei Joanne’s current teaching focus is on elementary school enrichment programs at Thurgood Marshall, Fairmount Park, and Cascadia.
Dojo Instructor, Adult Classes
Training at FKU since 1993, Sensei Tracey started teaching classes in 1997. She is a first dan black belt in empty hand and a first dan in kobudo. She is pursuing her second dan this year!
“I have been teaching classes at FKU for over twenty years and consider myself a student with so much more to learn.“
A school teacher by day, Sensei Tracey brings a passion for teaching and years of practical experience teaching to various audiences.
Sensei Tracey teaches the Saturday morning adult class.
Dojo Instructor, Kids Classes
Training at FKU since 1995, Sensei Kim is a first dan black belt in empty hand and a first dan in kobudo.
“At FKU, I enjoy being part of the community and watching our kids grow up to be young adults.”
A Logistics and Inventory Controller by day, Sensei Kim brings a passion for encouraging our youngest students to do their best. Sensei Kim teaches kids classes on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings at the main dojo, also at the Cascadia Elementary School on Tuesdays.
Dojo Instructor, Adult Beginners Classes
Sensei Jennifer began training in August 1998, and earned her sho-dan, first degree, black belt in 2013. A former French teacher and current criminal appeals attorney, she generally teaches the Thursday night class focused on beginners and basics. Jennifer particularly enjoys introducing new students to the benefits of martial arts training.
“At FKU, I have found an environment of determined discipline and supportive camaraderie that encouraged me to reach my potential and push beyond my comfort zone.”
Sensei Jennifer is dedicated to continuing to help create that environment for others. She teaches the Thursday evening adult class, which is focused on beginners.
Dojo Instructor, Tournament Prep Class
Sensei Judy has been training in various martial arts since 1995, first earning her second dan in the Korean martial art Tang Soo Do, then teaching kickboxing for more than 12 years, and finally finding Shito-Ryu in 2014. She is currently a provisional blackbelt in empty-hand and first dan in kobudo, and pursuing her first-dan in empty hand this year. She actively competes in tournaments, and encourages other students to join her.
“I consider myself a life-long learner. And the best way to learn is to teach something to someone else.”
A medical science liaison (MSL) with a doctorate in neurophysiology, and a certified fitness instructor, Judy brings an understanding of body movement and best practices in physical fitness.
Sensei Judy teaches the Tournament Prep class on Monday evenings.
Dojo Instructor, Adult Classes
Renee has been training at FKU since 2009, and is currently a 1st kyu brown belt. She loves the community and people she's found at FKU. Renee would like to emphasize the importance of practice and hard work, and to continue learning even if something is challenging.
“Karate is important to me because it helps me empathize with my students that might take longer to learn something than others, because body intelligence is not one of my strengths.”
A science teacher in the Highline School District, Renee brings a passion for teaching and equality to the dojo.
Senpai Renee helps teach during the adult classes.
Dojo Instructor, Kids Classes
Deb started training at FKU in 2002, and has earned the rank of 1st kyu brown belt.
Senpai Deb helps teach the kids classes on Saturday mornings, and supports the dojo during school events, including our annual fundraiser “Kickathon” and our Spring Demonstration.
Elementary School Program and Dojo Events support
Kinny started training at FKU in 1996, and has earned the rank of 3rd kyu brown belt.
She assists Sensei Joanne with the elementary school programs at Cascadia and Fairmount Park, often working with beginners on basics, zenkutsu stance, and kihon kata ichi. Kinny says, “I have ability with knots because of past lives as a Girl Scout and a tall ship sailor, so I’m very good at tying little kids into their gis and belts!”
Senpai Kinny also continues to support the dojo during school events, including our annual fundraiser “Kickathon” and our Spring Demonstration.