AMAA Martial Arts History – Bob White Interview



AMAA Martial Arts Masters Radio Show with Guest Host Professor Gary Lee interviews Master Bob White. I’m incredibly proud to promote not only our Kenpo History, but am also very proud of my father for all of the contributions that he has given to our art.

There are honorable mentions to three of our Kenpo Women here – Andrea Pfefer, Barb White and Tara Van Duesen.

Have a listen here.



Black Belt Thesis – Alexis Susidko


 With great pleasure, Kenpo Women is proud to present our newest Black Belt, Alexis Susidko.  Alexis is a fine example of all that being a black belt entails.  Her thesis was created to help other young girls stay on the path and to not give up.  Congratulations Alexis.



Alexis Susidko


I remember the day as if it was yesterday.  I sat next to my mother on the bench in the middle of the front door and behind the Aquafina (Gatorade) machine.  My mother and I were watching my little brother in class, whom had just started Karate. Moments went by before an older gentleman greeted my mother and myself. He introduced himself as Mr. White and told me he would see me Sunday.  Wait, what? I thought, Why would I see him Sunday?  I turned to look at my mother for some kind of explanation and instead she just smiled. I learned later that my father told Mr. White he wanted me to join, but wasn’t sure I would want to. Mr. White told him to bring me by for an introduction with Mrs. White and that when we were done I would want to join.


I had my introductory class that following Sunday with Mrs. White and my parents asked me afterwards if I wanted to join. With hesitation, I said, “I guess,” I didn’t want to, but only agreed to make my parents happy. My father explained that it would be a commitment to go to class at least 2-3 times per week to get the most out of the lessons.


Even though we talked about joining it hadn’t quite registered with me. I pleaded, I cried, I begged my parents that I didn’t have to go. They wouldn’t budge. I’m not sure why I was so against it. Maybe it was from a past experience when I was four years young. I don’t remember much but crying in the middle of class and running to my parents. I haven’t stepped foot into a Karate dojo since.  Or maybe because it wasn’t a typical girl sport you hear about, like tennis or volleyball.   Regardless of the reason I had no choice but to stick with it.


Thursday evening, I suited up in my white Gi and white belt and participated in my first group class.  Not without a tantrum first.  Still, my parents didn’t budge. It was intimidating to be the only female in a group of men. It also didn’t help being only thirteen. Thirteen – the awkward stage. The time where you transition from child to teenager. I was insecure then. I always felt like my young age determined my worth, or ability. I felt like people judged and looked down on me, even though that wasn’t exactly the case. The students were all so welcoming that I’m not sure why I continued to feel that way. I continued to protest to not go to the next class, or others thereafter. I found every excuse I could. Looking back, I admire my parents persistency.


Two weeks into starting my father had a discussion with Mr. White to keep me motivated so I wouldn’t quit. Mr. White knew exactly what to do in which he told my father he would assign a mentor. It was great insight for Mr. White to make this decision which turned out to be the perfect solution to keep me interested.


That same week, I was introduced by Mr. White to my mentor Jessica Stewart.  It was nice (and a relief) to have a fellow female. I knew she understood all I was feeling, and was once in my position. She had the strength to overcome the uncomfortable moments and I couldn’t help but admire her. Without Jessica I truly believe I would not have continued.



Being a woman in a world full of uncertainty and random violence is not easy. Every waking moment we step foot out of our homes and into the world at risk. According to the RAINN organization, every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted. Each year, there are about 293,000 victims of sexual assault. 44% of victims are under age 18; 80% are under age 30. The statistics are scary. Women are prey. We have to walk with keen awareness. We always have to be on our toes. Of course, I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I’m sure we all do. Unfortunately, this is our reality and I can either take charge or hide in the state of denial that I won’t ever be a victim. Since I have started Karate, I have noticed a drastic improvement in my confidence. For someone who was once timid, I am now confident when out alone. I’m stronger, more assertive and have more self-esteem. I’m not afraid to speak up, be demanding, and determined. Karate has also taught me to listen to the voice within. Identifying when something just doesn’t feel right, and to react on that feeling. I encourage women everywhere to sign up for Karate or seek a self-defense course. A University of Oregon sociologist found that women who took a ten-week self-defense training were significantly less likely to experience unwanted sexual contact. It is best to be prepared than to not be.


November 30, 2011 – my yellow belt test was upon me. I was a bundle of nerves. I’ll never forget Jessica assuring me that nerves were normal and meant you cared. Fifteen minutes later my white belt was replaced with yellow. It wasn’t until then that I actually began to enjoy Karate. I remember telling my father, “Okay fine I’ll stick with it. But no fighting.”   Unbeknownst a couple months later I was introduced to Jaime Matthews whom became my sparring instructor. I took first place at my first tournament, as well as my next four. I had a continuous winning streak for someone who once said she refused to sparr.


My advice to anyone just beginning Karate is to give it a chance. Have patience with yourself. Understand that there will be times you’re frustrated because you’re not picking something up as easy as everyone else. Or maybe you have floating why’s in your head, “Why don’t I punch as hard as him? Or why don’t my kicks look like that? Or why can’t I react quick enough? Why am I so uncoordinated?” However, it becomes much easier. Stay committed! Once you have a firm understanding of basics you’ll notice how everything relates making it easier to pick up new material and proceed forward with your training. It’s a mental hurdle we all were faced with and once gotten over, it’s a huge relief.


Fall 2015, Mr. White sent me a message unexpectedly asking if I would be willing to teach at the school. My initial reaction was to hide under a rock and politely decline. However, I immediately recognized that was only out of fear and uncertainty. After careful consideration I realized the universe aligned the stars and was gifting me my first teaching opportunity. My career dream is to become an English teacher for High-school/college students and inspire the next generation.   I knew in my heart this was for me. I accepted his offer and eagerly began teaching right away.

I’m a firm believer that every single thing is calculated for our best interests thus, I don’t believe in coincidence. Twelve days before my Black Belt test, one of my students had his first belt promotion.  To everyone else it was another belt promotion but to me it was much more. Watching him go through his testing and promotion I saw a reflection of my journey. Yellow belt, the first test, the beginning of a miraculous journey. I felt myself become emotional because of the profound symbolism. I knew in less than two weeks I would be tested on all my knowledge. I also knew my first yellow belt test was the beginning of my developing passion for Kenpo.

As I continue to reflect, I see an obvious correlation from when I first enrolled in Karate to present day. For someone who was timid to be the only girl in class, I am now the only girl testing along three men whom I consider all great friends. I don’t feel insecure but empowered and ready to take on the world.

We think it’s our responsibility to determine ourselves what should and shouldn’t be in our lives; what we should and shouldn’t do. We don’t usually know what’s best for us. What is given to us can be a blessing and be of great value that lasts a lifetime. It’s about learning to not think about pre-conceived ideas, labels, opinions of others, and taking a leap of faith to feel one-hundred percent comfortable about who you are and what you’re meant to accomplish.

I’m not playing tennis or volleyball because I was meant to be in Karate. One of my favorite quotes, author unknown, “You may not see it today or tomorrow, but you will look back in a few years and be absolutely perplexed and awed by how every little thing added up and brought you somewhere wonderful – or where you always wanted to be. You will be grateful that things didn’t work out the way you once wanted them to.”

Achieving my Black Belt is my first real accomplishment. It is a dynamic symbol I hold very close to my heart and something I hope to share with my future children.   I want to carry on the tradition of imparting knowledge onto other students as black belts have done to me. This skill is the greatest gift teaching me discipline, confidence, respect, team spirit, poise, loyalty, and self-control. This is not the end for me but a new chapter, to a new journey.


Thank You:


First and foremost I would like to give many thanks to God for blessing me with the talent and ability to pursue Kenpo, and guiding me on a path that led to encountering BWKS as well as, establishing all the relationships I have developed being apart of the studio family.  Also, for His strength during this journey leading up to May 7th.  It is a journey I could not have faced alone.

My mother and father for persistently pushing me and never allowing me to give up.  My 13 year old self wouldn’t believe I am saying this now – thank you for enrolling me in Karate.

Mr. White for his constant encouragement, guidance, and instruction. Thank you for believing in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.  It is an honor to be a student at your school.

Mrs. White for her nurturing spirit and always being so kind.  Seeing your passion for helping and empowering others is truly an inspiration and has gifted me with courage.

Jessica Stewart for devoting her time every week to help me become the martial artist I am today. Thank you for being so patient and strict on the quality of my stances, kicks, forms, techniques, eating habits, and to focus not just on meeting expectations, but striving to exceed them.

Mr. Matthews, Ms. Pfefer, Mr. Wilgus, Mr. Alexander, Mr. McGeough, Mr. Cammann, Mr. Wilson, Miss Alcala, Mr. Gundlach, Mr. DeAngelo, Mrs. Flessing, Mr. Bartolomucci, Mr. McClure, Ms. Ramierz, Dr. Smith, and all the other students I have trained with over the years – thank you for all the constructive criticism, enthusiasm, and support.


Jordan Lamas, Adrian Lamas, Wade Ganes – it has been a wonderful past few weeks training alongside these athletes. Being able to all coach each other and see our vast improvement from when we first started to now is very special and something I will cherish forever.

The unity at Bob White’s Karate Studio could not be more profound and for that I am forever grateful.






congratulations are in order

Congratulations to these young Kenpo Women from Roy MacDonalds IKKA Jersey Kenpo Karate  for earning their junior black belt.  Hard work and dedication pays off.


Left to right, Bella Pesco, Lola Nixon and Mia Deeks earned their junior black belts on the 11th of March 2016 with Dawn Venton.


Kenpowomen Hats!

Andree sporting the new Kenpowomen Trucker style hat.

Andree sporting the new Kenpowomen Trucker style hat.

Get your Kenpowomen Hats!

The all new Kenpowomen Hat! The Kenpowomen hat is a trucker’s style hat with a performance twist. Specially made by Boco Gear using the latest wicking fabrics this technical trucker is designed to meet your athletic needs.



Sexual Assault on Campuses – Education & Preparedness


When Andree asked me to contribute an article on women’s self-defense I began considering the many topics I have researched that I can write about.

Draft one was started the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris.  It centered on the need to personally arm ourselves with the mental and physical tools of self-defense, in order to be better equipped to deal with the real life atrocities of our world.

Then, I watched the CNN documentary entitled ‘Hunting Grounds.’ This inspired me to change the focus of this blog to sexual assault on university campuses.  Much of what was discussed in this documentary was the same information I have been reading about throughout the last 3 years pertaining to sexual assault, and its aftermath, on university campuses in the U.S.  The documentary covered the statistics of assault, the reporting of assault, and the way  it is handled by school officials, police, victims, and other students, as well as the physical and psychological trauma experienced by it’s victims.

Statistics indicate that 1 in 5 young women will be sexually assaulted in college before she finishes school, and she most likely will not report the rape. A study by the U.S. Justice Department found that more than 95% of students who are sexually assaulted remain silent. According to an article by Jessica Bliss, entitled, “Police, Experts: Alcohol Most Common in Sexual Assaults,” 43% of women did not report because they felt that nothing would be done, 27% felt the crime was a private matter, 12% were afraid of police response, and 12% felt the assault was not important enough to report. Once a report is made, the victim becomes a victim once more through the handling of the process, also considered a second assault.  The victim may be asked, “What could you have done differently?” “Were you drinking?” What were you wearing?” Why didn’t you fight back?” Why did you wait so long to report?”  Some of the women interviewed in this documentary had not told their parents about the incident due to shame and embarrassment.  They also faced name-calling, death threats, and isolation from peers.

According to research provided by clinical psychologist and forensic consultant, Dr. David Lisak, many college administrators are reluctant to address the problem of sexual violence on campus because of the negative publicity it would attract to their school, and the potential impact it would have on their athletic teams.  The John Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal of March 2012 reports that 1 in 3 college assaults that get reported are committed by student athletes who are popular and influential. It is much more a priority to make sure that a case against a star football player, potential Heisman trophy winner, be overturned to save the school embarrassment and funding issues.  Most schools receive their funding and support from alumni, so it behooves them to support the star athletes and financial supporters.   At the end of the documentary, numbers of reported rapes versus the numbers that were found guilty were very low, and the punishment for the crime ranged from being suspended for one day of school to one semester.  One decision that was utterly appalling was the punishment of suspension only after the final championships were over.  Another was suspension after graduation.  Still another was a $25.00 fine. The list went on and on.

In an interview with David Lisak, only about 2-5% of reported cases are false accusations and most rapes are perpetrated by a very few number of men.

What is also troubling is the myth that that many men and women do not consider the assault to be “rape” if they were intoxicated and that “date rape” is not necessarily considered a “rape,” but merely a case of a nice guy who had a little “too much” to drink.  Clearly, women and men leaving for college need to receive education on sexual assault prior to leaving home.

An idea for those who are studio owners would be a college preparatory class for both women and men outlining all areas of sexual assault, reporting, the aftermath, etc.

If you are serious about addressing sexual assault to our young women and men, I recommend researching as much as you can on the topic.  I have put in countless hours reading books, research papers, documentaries, and more, so that I can be a better advocate to young women.  Two books to read that provide education on the recent interest in college assaults are, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, by Jimmy Carter and Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by John Krakour.

This blog has come full circle back to the need to equip ourselves, and our loved ones, with the mental and physical tools necessary to defend ourselves, and to bring about a change in our communities. How can we make a dent in such a huge problem?  While we can’t “change” the problem overnight, we can, as martial artists, and women, address the issue by educating ourselves, our children, and our students, while including basic self-defense principles, and boundary setting in our classes.  We can hold seminars on self-defense and urge young women and men in college to become involved in a campus rape and assault crisis center.  It takes courage to take a stand that may be met with antagonism.  Two women in the documentary did just that, and together, they began a personal journey of healing, and encouraging other victims to step forward and report assaults. They challenged a Title IX complaint against the University of North Carolina, and were able to create attention to the issue of sexual assault and how it is dealt with on American universities.  These courageous women were victims who saw the need and took the steps to create change.  Lets us, as Martial Artists, find the courage to fight for what is right and fight against what is wrong.


Barbara White, 5th degree black belt







Challenging yourself with 10 suggested tips

Virginia Woolf


What is the true nature of our human condition that drives us to push beyond what we thought was ever possible?   How we face adverse or triumphant challenges mold us into who we are no matter if  those challenges are brought upon us by ourselves or we are caught unawares.    Most of my challenges are self inflicted, some are not.   I do wonder what I was thinking when I start, but after I’ve dove in head first, I end up enjoying the ride, mostly after the challenge has been completed though.

Here are some ways to challenge yourself.

1.  Set Goals and stick to them – I’ve found that without goals, life is just plain boring.  I need to goals to keep me motivated. I find that writing down my goals, figuring out a plan to obtain said goal and implementing that plan start to finish is one of the most rewarding feelings.

2.  Take a class.  Whether it be a karate class, go back to school, dance class, fencing – challenge your brain to work on something that gives you pleasure, or at least the end result will.

3.  Travel more – there is so much more to see in this world, you’ve heard the term The World is Your Oyster – I believe this is true. This means that you can achieve anything you wish in life or go anywhere because you have the opportunity AND ability to do so, you just need to find a way.

4.  Eat better –  this is a never ending challenge for me.  I’m good some days, others not so much.  Earlier this year I challenged myself to a Whole30 – 30 days of no alcohol, no grains, no refined sugars and I did it.  Lost 10lbs.  It was harder than childbirth, but I did it because I set a goal and stuck to it.  I’ll do it again in the new year.

5. Exercise more – be a mover, whether it be karate, running, Cross-Fit or walking,  setting fitness goals are so important.   I think that most people need some form of motivation, whether it be your next belt rank, weight loss, certain milage, competition with yourself or even those shiny metals you get at the end of running 13.1 miles, the end result is that you’ve challenged yourself and you’ve succeeded. What a great feeling.

6. Drink Less –

7. Get out of your comfort zone:    Fill in the blank  _______ makes me uncomfortable, so I’m going to focus on it for a week and overcome this issue in my mind.

8. Learn a new skill:  Language, take up knitting (didn’t work for me, but it may for you), woodworking, photography, writing,  painting, pottery, underwater basket weaving.. you get my drift.

9.  Read more – educate yourself with books that inspire and motivate.  Read the classics.

10.  Hear the silence.  This summer, we had constant background noise at our house with fans in every room.  Noise from the TV, the news, Facebook,  music, video games, kids.  Challenge yourself to shut it all down and open your mind to whatever form of meditation that works for you. I need this more often than not.


I was thinking about the challenges I’ve had in my life, the good and bad, on a personal, physical and emotional level and the list is so long that it’s slightly overwhelming.  I take each challenge as they come along, one day at a time, sometimes I set myself up for failure with too many things all at once, or maybe that’s just my defense mechanism that will help me prevail over the tougher, unwelcome challenges that come in my direction.  I set positive ones to off set the negative.

Keep challenging yourself to be better and you will be.

Carol-Le’s Story to II Brown

3rd Brown 2012** Editors Note:  Thank you Carol-Le for sharing your story with us.  You are an inspiration. It’s admirable that you set your mind to do something, you stuck to it and now the end result is celebrated with your second stripe.  I have no doubt that you’ll continue on your path and excel in achieving the goals you set in front of you. Two more to go…. Congratulations!!! Andree

Carol-Le’s Story

September 17, 2015


I was never one of those who was enamored with the martial arts from a young age, I didn’t grow up wanting to be Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan; in fact karate was probably the last thing I would have expected myself to fall in love with. I began my Kenpo journey at age 18 on July 21, 2008. My father had accepted a job transfer so my family and I moved to Missouri from my home state of North Carolina literally the day after I graduated high school. It was July so school wasn’t in session yet and was looking for something for my younger brother to do. I took him to try a free lesson at this karate school that I had heard of and out of sheer boredom I ended up taking a free class as well. Clad in sweatpants and a t-shirt standing in the worst Horse Stance imaginable I began to fall completely in love with Kenpo. I will be forever grateful that the under belts line up in the back; in my very first lesson we were working on Side Kicks to 12 o’clock with the rear leg, I immediately fell on my butt with the very first kick. I started Kenpo with both a bruised tailbone and a bruised ego.  My first instructor took me from White to 3rd Brown in a little under three years; no that’s not something I’m proud of anymore but it is a part of my story.

White Belt 2008

I remember in April of 2011 being overwhelmingly excited to receive my 3rd Brown a week before a seminar that was being held in Oklahoma because this seminar was divided into colored belt classes and Brown/Black belts. I was able to participate with the higher ranks and I felt on top of the world. I was a 5-day-old Brown Belt but it didn’t matter to me, until the seminar. The seminar that broke me was taught by Mr. Rich Hale, and one of the things that he had highlighted was Kenpo’s utilization of the principles. Now I’m an avid note taker especially during seminars, I’m often scribbling furiously trying to preserve every bit of new knowledge that I can glean while on the mat with those who have so much to share. As I found myself writing Mr. Hale’s words of “Kenpo is much more than just a kick, a punch, or a chop. It has principles, that’s what makes Kenpo so different.” I felt ill, I didn’t know what he meant completely. How could I not know what he was talking about if I was a 3rd Brown Belt? I’d heard of Marriage of Gravity, but there’s about where my list stopped on principles that I was familiar with. That was the hardest lesson that I had to learn, the fact that I knew very little indeed. The emphasis on principles that Mr. Hale was talking about had not been a part of my training, which meant that I was not truly learning Kenpo. I knew that weekend that it would be a long time before I saw 2nd Brown, but I had no idea it’d be nearly 4 ½ years.

2nd Brown 2015

On September 26, 2011 my fiancé Gene Braden and I opened our first school together in Saint Joseph, Missouri, Scholar and Warrior Kenpo Academy (SWKA) and Gene also became my instructor. Here begins the second hardest lesson that I had to learn, how to deal with your significant other transitioning from your classmate to your instructor. I am stubborn, and argumentative, and fiery which are all terrible things to be when you’re in the position that I was. It took me a long time (far too long of a time) to develop enough respect for my instructor to really be able to receive his teachings. Again this is not something I’m proud of, but turning my attitude around is also a part of my story. He never gave up on me, and that’s something I am truly indebted to him for, because for a couple of years I was not a quality student.  Blue Belt 2010

When Gene became my instructor I asked him to take me back through the entire system; starting with Delayed Sword, but this time I wanted principles. I wanted to shake this guilt that I felt every time I put on my belt. I wish I could say that it was a wonderful experience, but honestly it was so frustrating, humiliating, and painful. Having to extensively relearn things hurt, and with every lesson I felt myself becoming more and more devastated. I contemplated quitting, talked about quitting, wished I would just quit, thankfully that never happened. I started teaching a lot more and when you’re an owner and an instructor of a school, your own training time is often easily the first that is sacrificed.  Especially when your school is brand new, but that sacrifice is never something that I’ve regretted. In fact for a time it’s what kept me anchored to Kenpo. SWKA still remains the best thing I’ve done with my life, I may never again be a part of something so rewarding. I started volunteering to work with the under belts almost every class and Gene eventually began to catch on, I was hiding down in Yellow and Orange. I didn’t want to work on my own material with Gene, I didn’t want another class where I felt like a failure.  Parade

My weight is something that I have always struggled with as an adult, but especially from about 2010-2014. Last July I realized that I could hardly wear my gi pants anymore and in that moment as I stood in the dressing room considering just quitting (again) so I wouldn’t even have to wear my gi it occurred to me that I was being ridiculous. It took me a little over a year, but I lost 65lbs, and 2 gi sizes. The more weight I lost the more I realized I was absolutely loving Kenpo again. These principles that I had been working on and trying to learn for the past few years under Gene were starting to click. I was able to start making my body do what my mind was learning. I felt that flame bubble up inside my chest again and I began to really start wanting and working towards my 2nd Brown Belt. I finally had that burning love for Kenpo returning after so many years of thinking perhaps I had lost it.  SWKA Selfie

Every year in September we host a seminar with Senior Professor Rich Hale, and it’s always a great weekend filled with new knowledge and a chance to fix some things that need cleaning up. The last thing I expected Gene to say to me after Mr. Hale’s seminar on Saturday was that they wanted to promote me to 2nd Brown. I was blindsided, I begged him no. I didn’t feel ready, I didn’t feel deserving, and I hadn’t even tested! The test was the biggest factor, it was extremely important to me. My biggest fear in becoming Gene’s student was that people would think I was given my rank because we are a couple. I would rather be a 3rd Brown for 10 years than let that happen, but I also didn’t want to lose this opportunity. If Mr. Hale thought that I deserved 2nd Brown then that would bring me full circle from where I was 4 ½ years prior where it was in his seminar that I realized I didn’t deserve to be a 3rd Brown.  So the next morning I was tested and that was the fastest two hours I’ve ever experienced. That was the most stressful test of my life, I had no time to prepare mentally for that amount of pressure, but I passed. Green Belt 2010

I’ve never been more proud of a rank than this one, as of September 13, 2015 I have earned my 2nd Brown Belt after 4 ½ years. In reality this is probably the first belt rank that I’ve ever really earned by utilizing Kenpo, not by just memorizing movement and regurgitating it. I continued to trudge towards 2nd Brown even when all I wanted to do was throw in the towel and walk away and I’m proud that I didn’t; you don’t develop tenacity, self-confidence, and skill by giving up. You get out of this Art exactly what you put into it and while Kenpo has helped mold me into the person that I am now, and I know that we’re not done. I have plenty of more work to do on both myself and my Kenpo but I’ve never been happier overall than I am in this particular moment of my life. Orange Belt has always been my favorite rank, so much so that I even had one of the sayings for that rank tattooed on my shoulder; “Condition and guts take over where knowledge and skill end.”  I had to build some condition and guts before I could build my Kenpo. Here’s to many more opportunities to build condition, guts, knowledge, and skill!

Tripping Arrow

Tripping ArrowBarb White and Rod Smit


Sometimes we all get “tripped up” in learning and teaching too.   To have an articulated explanation of a technique is key, whether your learning it for the first time or have practiced it 1,000 times.

The two inward horizontal palm hell strikes to the head, palm strike to the chest and tigers mouth to the throat along with that reverse bow take down is highly effective.   There are so many things happening here,  strikes, marriage with gravity, more strikes and an awesome kick to the head, it’s hard to not LOVE this technique.

Several years back, I participated in a BWKS demo, my husband Sean was my partner, I had just recently returned after 6 months of recovery from left leg ACL repair surgery.   When I did a reverse bow take down on him, he landed on my leg resulting in my right ACL snapping on the spot.  I knew it when it happened so every time I do this technique, I have a slight hesitation, this is unfortunate, but factual.

So when I was teaching it yesterday, for a brief moment, I hesitated in the partner work only out of my own person experience as noted above.   To teach in the air is one thing but in order to learn properly, partner work is a necessary must.  There are many variations that I’ve seen over the years and I’d be interested to have your thoughts on the different effectiveness you’ve learned with Tripping Arrow.  Please leave in the comments below.




A Kenpo Journey – Anne Moskoviz

Kenpo lineage Left to right - Steve Cordaro- Anne Moskoviz - Sigung Stephen Labounty


*Photo: Kenpo lineage — left to right:  Steve Cordaro, Anne Moskoviz &  Sigung Stephen Labounty


A Kenpo Journey

By: Anne Moskoviz

I didn’t go looking for a Journey. I got into martial arts on a dare from my then 15 year-old son.  We were driving past a local shopping mall, and he noticed a blow-up King Kong advertising the grand opening of a karate school he’d seen ads for on television.  Naturally, he asked if he could ‘check it out’ by taking a demo lesson.  I said  “Sure.  Maybe I’ll go too”.  “Mom.  You could never do this.”  That did it.  No one tells me I can’t do something.   And so it began.

Of course, not knowing the difference, I thought I was learning a traditional martial art.

How cool was this?  I had a uniform and a belt!  And, if I came to class regularly, every ten  classes I’d get a stripe;  after four stripes, I’d test and get another belt.  I could be a black belt in TWO AND A HALF YEARS!

I never ‘got’ that black belt.  I had a falling out with the head instructor and subsequently left the school.

At that point, I started questioning whether I would continue in any martial art.  Had I really learned anything?  I talked with two high ranking women in jiu jitsu who own and run a dojo in my town, having been referred to them by my cousin’s girlfriend, also a jiu jitsu black belt.  Their advice? “When it is time, your teacher will appear.”  I didn’t understand it at the time, and ultimately decided to continue my Journey with taekwondo.

The ‘master’ was a fourth degree and direct student of YH Park, despite being a Caucasian American man.  I asked when he trained with GM Park to continue learning and improving upon his skills.  He told me he didn’t train with anyone anymore, that he had ‘done it all’, had won many trophies, which were on display at the school.  I should have left then.  Another nudge came, literally, the first time I tested for a belt.  Everyone of the same rank tested in a line, both for the two self defense techniques per level, and forms.

Now, I am a form nerd.  I work my stances to the death and beyond.  I will work one little piece of a form for hours until I’m almost satisfied with it; it’s never perfect, far as I’m concerned.  That first test?  I was bumped into by the people on either side of me, because they were making wrong turns due to not practicing the form.  At the end of the test, everybody got their stripe or belt.  Everybody, no exceptions.  After all, you paid your $40 belt test fee, so you passed.

I witnessed a woman get a black belt, even though she could not get through her red belt form.  Shortly thereafter, I left because I felt I was in the wrong place — again.

One of my besties lived around the corner from a Kenpo school, and since she already had a taekwondo black belt, she figured it might be good to cross-train, so she signed us up for a demo lesson.  I showed up early, since I wanted to meet the instructor one-on-one.  I was, I thought, behaving properly by bowing and saying Osu;  when he was finished chuckling, he invited me on to the mat and asked me to show him something I already knew and felt I did well, since I was quick to tell him I had had previous martial arts training, and held this belt in this art and that belt in that art.  I did a form from my first school, which I was quite proud of.  He then asked to see a couple self defense techniques.  At the end of all that, my friend had arrived, and he showed us Kimono Grab, aka Twin Kimono.  I was hooked, as was my friend, and we signed up.

I couldn’t wait to learn a new technique each week!  What a wonderful thing!  That is, until I realized I had to remember them all, and there were 10 techniques for Yellow, and 20 techniques each belt thereafter, as at the time, the school taught Tracy techniques through Blue belt and EPAK Green and up.  In my ignorance, I figured I had it knocked, since I had ‘experience’ and held high rank in two other arts.

First test, for Yellow belt.  “Delayed Sword”.  I just stood there at attention.  Everyone else did the technique, and my instructor repeated it.  I just stood there, at the opposite end of the mat.  So he says “Anne, please show me Delayed Sword”.  I looked at him and said “I don’t have that one.”  At which point, he put the clipboard down, walked the length of the mat to stand in front of me, and said “Oh, you do.”  I insisted I didn’t.  He demo-ed it, and asked me to do the technique, which of course I knew,  and did.  Finally.

That little legend has followed me on my Kenpo Journey, for good reason.  I am always the one who tells it, cautionary tale that it is.  Confidence is a good thing to have, but pride has no place in a martial art, especially Kenpo.

I cried and screamed my way through the Blue belt techniques because they brought me to my knees.  I could not remember which name went with what, and I became frustrated and ashamed because I wasn’t testing and “everyone else was”.  Of course they weren’t, at least not until they were ready, but I was so used to testing and being passed that when it wasn’t happening, I thought something was wrong.  And said so.  Frequently.

My instructor has the patience of a saint.

We also test in groups because people are allowed to come and practice test, which is a wonderful way to handle it.  It helps calm those who are ‘really’ testing, and promotes camaraderie among the students.  When I was told I was ready to test for Green belt, I spent hours practicing, both at the studio and at home.  On test night, I showed up prepared — or so I thought.  There were six or seven people senior to me testing and practice testing, all my friends, so I was calm.  I thought I did my techniques well, including ‘the one I didn’t have’, and nailed my forms and sets.  At the end of it, we all lined up and knelt, awaiting the verdict.  Belts were awarded to three people to my right and one to my left.  Stripes were placed on two belts.   And there I was, not called upon.  I stayed quiet and fought back the urge to say something, and tried not to cry, since I am not a crier in public.  Our instructor asked us all to get up and stand at attention.  No one did, except me.  One of my friends who’d received her Brown III that night said “But you forgot Anne!”  You could’ve heard a pin drop.  I stood at attention with my eyes closed tight, feeling very vulnerable, and sensed my instructor standing in front of me.  “Please open your eyes.”  I did, as he removed my blue belt and replaced it with the green belt I had EARNED.  “I’m so proud of you.”  And he walked away.

Lesson learned.  For all the times my pride took over and I didn’t pay attention to the warning signs, for all the times I questioned when I would test, I finally realized how much better it felt to try my best and not expect to receive anything as a reward, other than the feeling that I did the best I could.

One of the truly memorable days of my life is once again approaching;  my Kenpo ‘birthday’, August 20th. The day I earned my Kenpo black belt.  All these years later, I’ve learned it’s really about the knowledge acquired, the understanding of the concepts and principles built into each technique, form, and set, and the passing along of all those things to others who come after you;  not the belt, which is only there to hold your uniform together.

And I am still learning.  Osu.


Kenpowomen:   We are always pleased to share the stories of our Fellow Kenpo Practitioners, we are honored that Anne has shared hers. Thank you. 

Quality and Longevity

Live-Healthy-402x300What motivates you? What inspires you?


Note: For months now, I’ve been focusing on healthy living and eating. The Kenpowomen site was created as a platform for positive reinforcement and to be a place where women can go for any topic.  Lately, I haven’t been writing per se about Kenpo, such as techniques, forms or any politics for that matter, this site more about the life inside and outside of Kenpo as well as honoring women who have made a positive impact on our art.  Kenpo is very much a part of my life, I teach two days a week, and I still have privates with my instructor weekly.  I will only focus on positive aspects of everyday living, whether that be karate, food, exercise or recovery from an injury because that’s what we do.. we multi-task, we train, learn from others and hopefully with all of these experiences we become a better martial artist by living a healthier lifestyle.  If I can make an impact on one person by helping to change their lifestyle for the better, then I’ve succeeded in my goal in the creation of this site.

So what does Motivate and inspire you?

I’ve been listening to a podcast on Paleo eating – NomNom Paleo, Sean thinks that nothing could be worse than listening an hour long podcast on healthy eating, I disagree.  This got me thinking about why I do the things I do. (of course it also helped with what I’m making for dinner tomorrow night) In the past, I’ve written about goals and how important they are to me, but not why I’m so motivated and inspired to do so.  So, why do I push myself?    The answer boils down to two words Quality & Longevity.  I’m selfish in wanting my husband to do the same thing because I want to live a long life with him.    Quality and Longevity equals Opportunities and Challenges in every form.

This past weekend I met a gentleman who’s name is Rudy , he is 92 years old.  In his pocket there were two folded up pieces of paper,  the first was a picture of him 2 years ago hiking at a high elevation in the Eastern Sierras (at 90 years old).  He is headed up there again in a couple of days to do some more hiking.  The second picture was of him hiking in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico. If I heard him right, one of his secrets to longevity is that he walked 5 miles per day, though recently he’s reduced it to 3 miles a day.  This amazes me.  He’s in great healthy shape at 92 and he’s proud of it, he wears his good health like a badge of honor, as he should.

To test myself this week, I’ve walked 5 miles each day.  It’s only Thursday, I’m up 20 miles, but I found that I’m enjoying my hour and a half in the mornings or late at night by not being connected to my screens, I’m listening to my podcasts, or music, or maybe just walking in silence with the only sounds being my feet on the gravel.  This is important time for me.   (I’ll add, that walking is harder than running in my opinion, it makes me slow down which I’m not used to doing)..   Rudy has something here, and from what I see he’s living proof that if you physically treat yourself right, you’ll be re-paid with a long healthy life. (obviously this doesn’t happen with everyone…… but you get the gist of it)

My few readers know that I did a Whole 30 back in March through April.  This kick started my healthy way of eating. I found that afterwards, when I wasn’t on a strict regimented eating schedule, that I tend to cheat much much more than what I should and I would basically fluctuate with in 5lbs of my ideal weight, never quite getting where I want to be.  Monday I was very serious about completing this week with ZERO cheats.. not one ounce of carbs, dairy, processed foods, dangerous additives and no alcohol.  This morning (Thursday) I got on the scale and holy shit!!!  135lbs.  My drivers license weight.  This morning I posted on FB that I had hit that milestone and it was a big one, it felt good to tell everyone who would listen, I love sharing good news.

My husband isn’t fully on board with Paleo lifestyle and I understand,  he has to make his own decisions, but he’s been tolerant of my week long paleo challenge.  Shhhhh, next week, we’ll do the same thing.

To answer the question above, “what motivates you?”  I’ll tell you what motivates me, LIFE.  There’s so much to do and never enough time to do it in.  I’d love to have 40 years of healthy retirement. Hiking, moving, LIVING!  In order for me to do this I have to create these opportunities like walking 5 miles a day, going to the studio to workout, keeping my brain fresh by learning new things, spreading the knowledge that I have to anyone who will listen as well as living with the challenges and roadblocks of everyday life.   I’m inspired by people like Rudy who has this thirst to explore and try new things even at 92.

Bob Dylan wrote:  “May your hands always be busy, may your feet always be swift, may you have a strong foundation, when the winds of changes shift.  May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung – and may you stay forever young” 


Last night, I was around a group of very nice women discussing menopause and relating to everything in that conversation even though I’m not quite there.  This made me smile and cry at the same time.  I’m MOTIVATED and INSPIRED to be forever young at any age.