Experience, Leadership, Guidance


“No one in Austin deserves higher praise or greater thanks from us than the Senseis at Life Ki-do. You all are very special people and extremely talented instructors. I have been thrilled with every single staff member."

—  Parent of Life Ki-do Student

Founder & Lead Instructor

Founder of Life Ki-do® Martial Arts & Life Education, Jonathan began his martial arts training and competitive athletics as a young boy. In addition to being a skilled martial artist, Sensei Jonathan was also a high school state wrestling champion and a very proficient soccer player.


His childhood quest to find the ancient inner life skill teachings of the martial arts led to his training and teaching in a wide variety of systems including Tang Soo Do, Tae Kwon Do, Kickboxing, JKD, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Street Self-Defense, Wrestling, and Systema. He is a certified Systema instructor under world-renowned Systema master Vladimir Vasiliev.


He has a degree in psychology from Emory University in addition to 25 years of study in meditation, mindfulness, and the brain-body connection. His great joy comes from sharing ancient, universal life skills to inspire students to discover and live from their inner strength


Youth Program Director & Lead Instructor

A black belt in Nisei Goju Ryu Karate, Doug is the Director of the Youth Program at the Life Ki-do headquarters at Austin Martial Arts Academy. In high school he competed regularly and was ranked first in the state in forms, weapons, and sparring by the Florida Black Belt Association. After winning his championships and feeling disillusioned with the traditional martial arts teaching methodology, Sensei Doug decided to give up martial arts to pursue a career in Montessori education.


While teaching at Parkside Community Montessori School, Sensei Doug came across Life Ki-do. He immediately knew that this would be the medium that would combine his love of martial arts with his passion for nurturing and supporting the natural growth of children. He has a rare talent and genuine love for working with children.


Camp Director & Lead Instructor

Deven comes to Life Ki-do after working at Parkside Community Montessori School as an assistant teacher in the classroom and as an assistant in Sensei Doug’s Life Ki-do classes at the school. In addition to training in Life Ki-do Martial Arts, Deven has trained in Aikido, boxing, and kickboxing.


He also has extensive physical fitness experience in gymnastics, baseball, and track and field. Exercise and healthy living have always been a big part of Deven’s life. He achieved his black belt and the title of Sensei in May 2017.


Sensei Gene Smithson is the owner of Austin Systema and Tai Chi which is a licensed Life Ki-do school. In addition to teaching Life Ki-do to his youth program, he teaches Life Ki-do at our headquarters and at local academic schools. He has 35 years of reality based martial arts training, holds black belts in several styles of karate, and has extensive training in Chinese boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Aikido, JKD, Systema and in the internal arts of Tai Chi, Qigong, and meditation.


He is a certified Systema instructor under Vladimir Vasiliev. His real-world experience combined with his internal martial arts training gives him a rare perception and ability to help students learn practical martial arts and life skills in a nurturing and flowing manner. Sensei Gene teaches Life Ki-do to children at his academy in northwest Austin. For more information, visit or call 512-207-0148


Ed comes to Life Ki-do from My Gym in the Los Angeles area where he lead martial arts classes for multiple locations over 15 years. He has over 20 years experience in martial arts including being a certified instructor in Wing Chun kung fu and Tang Soo Do Korean karate.


His 15 years with My Gym gives Sempai Ed a wealth of experience in teaching children. Sempai Ed can be seen both assisting and leading classes at both our Westlake and Lakeway dojos.


Etienne Vidal began working with Life Ki-do last year leading a series of ongoing Capoeira classes as well as teaching our instructors about this amazing African/Brazilian martial art.


Etienne also teaches mindfulness and leadership at the KO school. Etienne is leading our ongoing classes at Life Ki-do South where he’s blending traditional Life Ki-do Martial Arts and Capoeira.



As our Academy Director, Jeff runs our front desk and handles scheduling, billing, communication, marketing and customer service for the dojo. Jeff joined the Life Ki-do team in April 2013 after a long career as a store manager with Whole Foods Market across the country. Father, husband, musician, former DJ, pop culture trivia buff and recovering foodie are just some of the hats he has worn. A native Texan who grew up in Austin, while Jeff is not a martial artist by trade, he trains here a number of times a week as do his daughters.  You can also check out his blog at Middle Class Dad.



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