Our Instructors


Sensei Steve Pohle started karate practice in 1972.  He is an ISKF certified “A” rank Instructor, Examiner and Judge* and a member of the ISKF Technical Committee.  He has been teaching in Hampton Roads since 1981, first at the YMCA, later moving to Warwick Village.  Mr. Pohle holds the rank of Hachidan or 8th degree.

Mr. Pohle moved from Ohio to Hampton Roads in 1981, starting his club at the YMCA having not found a Shotokan club in the area.  Since then he has actively trained and taught in the ISKF, setting an example of “Shoshi ni kaeru” – or retaining the mindset of a beginner, at all times as he progressed in rank and certification.  He continues to attend trainings with other instructors whenever possible, and often returns new drills and concepts to his own dojo to benefit his students.

Pohle Sensei counts half a dozen active instructor trainees and several certified instructors among his students.  He is active in the collegiate organizations, ECCKU and NCKA, which provide any collegiate Shotokan student access to training and tournament participation regardless of affiliation (or not) with a Shotokan school.

Sempai Guy Via has been training since youth and is Godan ranked – 5th degree.  He has been teaching at SKHR for over a decade and is a popular instructor, tournament judge and collegiate karate mentor.  Mr. Via graduated from William and Mary, where he also trained in Shotokan karate and participated in the collegiate organizations.  He is also a licensed Judge (Class C).

Sempai Kevin Dorst also started early with Pohle Sensei, at age 5.  He is ranked Yondan (4th Degree) and has also been an Instructor for over a decade.  Mr. Dorst is active on the collegiate karate circuit as well, as an instructor and now as a judge.   A graduate of ODU, Mr. Dorst has now begun work on a second undergraduate degree.

Sempai Johnny Miller is ranked Yondan and has been training with Mr. Pohle since 2005, when he returned to Hampton Roads from New York, holding Shodan or first degree.  Johnny is the Sensei (head instructor) at the Smithfield YMCA and assists in Newport News.  Mr. Miller is a professional percussionist and graduate of the Berklee School of Music.

Sempai Melissa McDowell, also an ISKF certified instructor and examiner,  began training in 1987, in Maryland, and is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park.  After moving to Virginia, she began Shotokan practice in 2005.  She is ranked Yondan, and holds a Class C judge license.

*ISKF certified instructors, or sensei, teach classes and mentor students.  Examiners are instructors who are qualified to test and promote students.  A judge acts as referee at sanctioned competitions.  Each qualification rank confers additional privileges and responsibilities to the license holder.