Ohana Board of Directors
Gene Braden President
Mike Stephens Vice President
Lee Braden Communications
Mr. Braden believes the knowledge available in the Kenpo system is endless. The more you learn about Senior Master of the Arts (SMA) Edmund Parker’s American Kenpo, the more you realize there is so much you don’t know.
As a child, Mr. Braden loved to watch Kung Fu Theater on Saturday mornings. After viewing his first episode, he was determined to learn a martial art. In 1989 he stumbled upon an American Kenpo Karate Academies (AKKA) affiliated school owned and run by 5th degree Black Belt Eric McEnaneny and signed up.
The AKKA was founded by Senior Grand Master (SGM) Bill Packer, which is primarily a form of Chinese Kenpo. Although the system is not the American Kenpo system taught by SMA Parker, he felt it gave him a solid foundation of the Kenpo system, having the same forms, basics, and principles. While attending Mr. McEnaney’s school, he was promoted to Assistant Instructor and taught classes three days a week for several years. During this time, he competed in many tournaments placing in Kumite and Kata divisions and had the privilege of attending seminars with SGM Bill Packer.
Mike Stephens began his journey in Kenpo in 2000 in New Bedford, Massachusetts under 6th Degree black belt Leo Lacerte, a pioneer in the art of Kenpo in New England.
At the end of the third year of training, Mike and his family moved to Colorado and continued his training with Mr. Lacerte with in-person training, as well as video training. During the next three years, Mr. Stephens helped Mr. Lacerte produce the "Ed Parker's Basic Fundamentals" book, which was published in 2010.
In 2006, Mr. Stephens began supplementing his training locally under one of Master Mohammad Tabatabai's students, 5th-degree black belt Sifu Ken Lindorff, ultimately earning his 2nd Degree Brown belt. Mr. Lindorff also trained in the art of Chin-Na, which began Mike's interest in joint locks, manipulation, and ground fighting.
In 2007, Ken Lindorff moved to Utah, so Mr. Stephens continued his training solely through Mr. Lacerte's guidance, who had awarded him his apprentice black belt in May of 2008, and his first-degree black belt on April 29th, 2009.
At age 18, the day following her high school graduation, Lee Braden transplanted with her family from coastal North Carolina to rural Missouri. This relocation caused her to spend quite a bit of time at the local library where she discovered a flier on the bulletin board advertising karate lessons at a nearby community center.
In the summer of 2011 Lee along with her partner, Gene Braden, embarked on a new chapter and decided they should consider opening a school of their own.
Mr. Braden had recently received his 3rd Degree Black Belt promotion and was ready to take the next step as Head Instructor of a school. On September 26, 2011, they opened the doors to Scholar and Warrior Kenpo Academy in Downtown St. Joseph, MO. Since then operations have continued on a weekly basis serving the St. Joseph community and continuing to keep the flame of Kenpo burning.
In Grand Junction, Colorado on March 18, 2017, Lee, to her great surprise, received her promotion to 1st Degree Black Belt.