Our school

AKKA Karate USA in Westport is Kansas City’s first Martial Arts school, opening its doors to teach Kenpo Karate nearly 50 years ago.

We take pride in this legacy of community and empowerment we have cultivated and continue to pursue. Whether it be the iconic graffiti of internationally celebrated local artist Donald “Scribe” Ross that adorns our walls or the Women’s Self Defense “Model Mugging” courses introduced in 198_ by AKKA Organization Master Rick Gibbins, engagement and appreciation for our community is an integral part of who we are.

Our classes invite people of all ages into our school- whether you are 6 years old or 65, we provide and environment and instruction that is inclusive, empowering, and supportive of your development in Martial Arts.

You are what you teach.

We believe that being a teacher means you are an eternal student, continuously practicing and refining what you have been taught, sharing what you have learned, and challenging yourself to grow into who you are.

Our instructors

Our lead instructors are all AKKA black belts with 4- 35 years of experience as AKKA Kenpo students and practitioners. Our teachers are held to the same expectations as our students and model what it means to be a martial artist within our school, and also out in the community.

Our assistant instructors are students who have been training for at least one year, and have been asked to further develop their own skills by being accountable for the curriculum they have been taught—teaching is one of the best ways to become proficient in what you have learned.

Junior Leaders are students between the ages of 8 and 17 who are a part of our STORM leadership and Demo team. These students are exceptional in their dedication to their practice of Kenpo and are role models and mentors to other students in class- either by leading a small group of students, or working one-on-one with a student who needs a little extra attention.

Our model of instruction is one that cultivates community, and allows students to develop and understand the importance and responsibility of their role within it.

Ritu Nanos

Head Instructor & School Owner

A 5th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate, is the Head Instructor of Kenpo and Tai Chi Chi Kung at AKKA Karate- Westport. She also co-teaches Women’s Self-defense Model Mugging classes with Mr. Bill Frank, and also teaches workshops in meditation, and energy movement/healing.

Ms. Nanos has been a student and practitioner eastern philosophy, energy work, and movement arts for over 25 years.

Her 17-year study of Kenpo Karate with her teacher Master Rick Gibbins, as taught by Grand Master Bill Packer, continues to be her primary focus. Her studies and practice include Vipassana meditation (20years+) as taught by internationally renowned guru S.N. Goenka, and Bharatnatyam (classical Indian Dance, 7year+) under the instruction of internationally renowned teacher Rathna Kumar, and Energy Therapy/Healing under the instruction of Marjorie Shapiro.

Through Master Gibbins, she began her studies of Tai Chi Chi Kung (as taught by Mantak Chia). She has also had the honor learning from internationally renowned Martial Arts Grand Master by Dr. Yang Jwing Ming.

Her own development of Tai Chi Chi Kung progressed as she began integrating her knowledge and experience from each of her different areas of study. This Pan-Asian, yet universal, philosophical lens is what Ms. Nanos uses to teach martial arts as a “whole-hearted” way of being and doing.

In addition to her experience in martial arts, Ritu Nanos holds a BA in Elementary Education, a BA in Psychology, and an MA in Health Psychology.

History & Lineage

Our school traces its roots back to masters who honed their style nearly a century ago.

Our curriculum at AKKA is primarily influenced by the original Chinese martial art and way of movement. Click below to read the full history of our American Kenpo Karate system.



“I discovered AKKA Karate Westport when I explored schools for my 8 yr. old; I knew immediately that Mrs. Nanos was the right teacher for her. As I watched her train, I recognized my interest in learning this martial art. As an adult, I thought it was too late to learn karate; not so! We have been training side-by-side for two years and plan to earn our black belts together. This practice takes commitment and grit and you just might surprise yourself (and your family). The teachers and the community of students are amazing and some of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met.”

‑ Jill Kohler, AKKA Westport Kenpo student

“I started attending AKKA Westport almost two years ago for tai chi, and my karate journey began almost a year ago. In the short time I have been taking classes with Mrs. Nanos I have improved my physical, mental, and spiritual health. This place is a welcoming community that provides comfort, strength, and support for many families and individuals. Mrs Nanos and her instructors are highly skilled, wise, and kind martial artists who provide the kind of inspiration and motivation which make students of all ability levels strive to do their very best. I anticipate being a member of this dojo for the rest of my life and look forward to being in better shape when I turn 40 than I was at 30 or even 20 years old.”

‑ Russell Thorpe, AKKA Westport Tai Chi and Kenpo student

“I love AKKA Westport, the whole family attends a mix of karate, self-defense and tai chi classes. Wonderful place, great teachers and workouts, and very motivational.

There’s a strong community at AKKA Westport, we’ve met wonderful people and developed strong friendships here. The methods of teaching and workouts have really helped to build self-confidence and respect in my children and gives them a framework for dealing with conflict. It also keeps them moving an age of digital screens for all entertainment!

Personally, I have improved my strength, flexibility, heart rate and endurance. Along with the physical benefits, karate has helped me balance work stress as well as mood and given me more thoughtful approaches to problem solving and the management of my teams at work.

Highly recommend for all ages!”

‑ Michael Eppelheimer, AKKA Westport Kenpo student

“Model Mugging was an invaluable experience to me as a survivor of an attempted robbery and other incidents that impacted my relationship with personal safety. Not only did the course rebuild confidence within my own abilities to protect myself it also was a safe space for students to process commonly shared fears and vulnerabilities. The camaraderie around navigating a touchy area for some made the experience fun and eased any tension I felt around not knowing what to expect. This course led me to discover the power that I hold within my voice, body and being then equipped me with the tools needed to protect it. Violence in our society is becoming more and more prevalent which can feel crippling. The Model Mugging course helps channel that fear into empowerment and strength, for this I am eternally grateful.”

‑ Kelsey Griffith, Model Mugging Participant

“I highly recommend AKKA Karate Westport! I have two children attending classes here, and have seen both of them grow their self-confidence, skills, and discipline! It’s a joy to watch the classes- you’ll even want to join in yourself! (The adult program is excellent as well!)

My little one is in the Little Dragons pre-skills class for 5 year olds. His teacher is the best karate teacher for kids in Kansas City, hands down! She is truly gifted! She has mastered a perfect balance of fun and discipline. She challenges and inspires all of the kids. The program follows a clear curriculum that allows the children to see their work turning into results and knowledge. I can’t say enough good things about the Little Dragons program!”

‑ Jen Lagerquist, AKKA Westport Kenpo student