Barbara Lee White

This is my mother.  Though she is gone and I did not have the opportunity to know her during her years of teaching karate, I was fortunate enough to know her for the last 10 years of her life.  During my recent years at the karate studio there are a few who remember her – her strong personality, her remarkable way of teaching and communicating with students, the preciseness and beauty of her forms and the fact that she wouldn’t back down from anyone.  At 5’2 and light as a feather, she was a successful Kenpoist in a very male dominated art, the respect she received from her fellow Martial artists was not to be mistaken for anything other than earned merit.  I wish she where here today, she is missed and loved by all who knew her.

2015-05-23 11.16.44



Back in the late 1960s a small scrappy young lady walked into our Kenpo Karate studio. Little did we know that she would become one of the most feared female fighters of her generation. Her name was Barbara Marez (later to become Barbara White). She was extremely talented and had one goal, to be the best in the women’s division. She began winning trophies immediately in the lower division, and by the time she was a black belt, there was no doubt that she had achieved her goal. Barbara was a kind and sweet person, yet on the other hand she was a tiger in the ring, one of the toughest women fighters there ever was, I will always miss her and know how proud she would be of her three daughters, and their accomplishments, thru them her Kenpo Karate legacy will always be remembered.

Thank you and Blessings to all,

Bob Mitchell – 8th degree black belt


Barbara White was an active student and a dedicated and phenomenal martial artist. Barbara was a fierce fighter. I can vividly recall that the first time I spared with her I had to tell myself, “If you don’t hit this woman hard you may not be able to walk out of here tonight.“ I also remember Jim McClure once reminding me that when you spar with Barbara, “You better fight her seriously… like she is a full sized man!” There were not a lot of great women kenpoists or women fighters then and Barbara, along with some of the Kenpo Women honored on this website, blazed the trail for today’s female students. Barbara was instrumental in my preparation for my second, third, and fourth degree black belts. She spent many hours working with me and coaching me to develop my personal style in kenpo. Barbara always had a smile for you and was genuinely glad to see you. My life is richer because I was blessed with the pleasure of calling her my friend.

Ron Sanchez – 6th degree black belt




4 Responses to “Barbara Lee White”

  1. […] His skills are awe-inspiring and his teaching ability is second to none. When I was a kid, Barbara (Marez) White was an extremely focused and tough woman role model for me. Our studio has always had great women […]

  2. Daniel Yonemori says:

    Mrs. White was a great woman and mother figure to me. I had the privilege of being taken under her wing during my early preteen years and was definitely an angel. She was an inspiration and dedicated much of her time to help me succeed in my pursuit of being the best I can. I remember traveling all over Southern California to enter tournaments and even crossing the border and getting lost in Tiajuana on one of our many adventures. Her, along with Mr. White, instilled the values of confidence, dedication and self-esteem that have continued to guide me through the mystery of life. She will always have a special place in my heart.

    Daniel Yonemori – First degree black belt

    • Alia White-Cass says:

      Thank you Daniel, for taking the time to write such wonderful things about our mom. It means so much! I remember the time that you spent with her and I know she would be so pleased to hear that!

  3. mas says:

    A good person and who I considered a friend. Tough fighter and great teacher. As one of the above comments said, to not take her for a female when fighting her or you will lose. She is missed but her memory lives.

Leave a Reply