Malcom Gladwell, in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, talks about the relationship between time, place, and circumstance, and how, very often, someone’s destiny will be enhanced due to where they were, and what their particular circumstances were at that particular time.  With Aisling Downey, this rings true.  Her father and mother studied Kenpo through Ed Parker, in Ireland, during it’s infancy.  She had the opportunity to grow up in the karate studio and has seen it evolve through time.  She has, in essence, lived Kenpo karate her whole life. Aisling Downey is a natural born leader and great example of a warrior. We are proud to welcome Aisling Downey to represent Ireland on the Women in Kenpo site.

Barbara White
June 4, 2014


My name is Aisling Downey. I began participation in the art of Kenpo Karate 20 years ago; I currently with hold the rank of a 2nd Degree Black Belt. My father Edward Downey (8th Degree Black Belt) is my teacher, I am so grateful that he is such a proficient master of the arts, he is an inspiration.

My mother Martina Downey is also an example of a Woman in Kenpo. She commenced training in the year 1980, to then achieve the rank of a 3rd Degree Black Belt. She tested from 3rd – 1st Degree Brown Belt under Senior Grand Master Ed Parker. Martina also competed at The Long Beach Internationals, European Championships, and par took in Demonstrations on Irish television shows. Her 40 years involvement in Kenpo and support to Professor Edward Downey has shown me the true dedication and strength of a real Kenpo Women.

My sister Patricia Downey (3rd Degree Brown Belt) is an example of a participating Woman in Kenpo, and a great testament to the quality of the Kenpo Women we have training in our system. I feel so lucky to have been raised within a Kenpo family. My Partner Brendan’s participation in Kenpo has further integrated my family unit into my training environment. Brendan and I have a son Ethan, who we love dearly. I am thankful for my family’s involvement in Kenpo, they are my support structure.

My School

The International Kenpo Karate Academy, is located in a town called Celbridge, in the County of Kildare in Ireland. At my school we have many female practitioners, and several female instructors. I admire how our school creates a welcoming environment for female students to comfortably train. I am fortunate to be able to teach students at my school. Teaching brings me great joy – as I remember that I was once in the same position as the children I teach many years ago. This drives me to give them the best education and experience I can in their Kenpo journey. I think it’s vital to be the best role model I can for the young girls and Kenpo Women at my school. I also design and deliver women’s self-defence and fitness classes within our school, encouraging female participation and empowerment within our community.

I recently completed my fourth and final year of University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Sports Management and Coaching. My qualifications include; personal training, power strength and speed coaching, Olympic weight lifting, plyometric and agility training, sports psychology, sports marketing, performance video analysis, special needs coaching, and life coaching, among other business management subjects. I have obtained valuable and practical knowledge through my studies, which I actively implement through my coaching and business management work at our school. Other qualifications I have completed include; diplomas in Leisure Management, Occupational First Aid, National Certificate in Exercise and Fitness, Water Safety and Lifesaving, and a level 1 children’s rugby coaching certificate.

Fitness and the Martial Arts

I have been studying yoga for the past 6 years now. I feel it has benefited me greatly in my martial arts training; improving my strength, flexibility, and fluidity of movement within my body. I intend to do my yoga teacher training course in the near future. Kenpo Karate training and Yoga practice require similar and complimenting training disciplines – such as; perseverance, dedication and industriousness. I can really relate to what Mrs Barbara White has described in her “Women in Kenpo” Bio, that negative self-talk is a true obstacle stopping us excelling in our life, and perhaps progression in Kenpo. I believe we can excel in our Kenpo practice by continually being “present in the moment”, totally focused on our body and the movements we need to execute the task at hand. Keeping a positive and non-judgemental mind, not repeating critical prompts such as “I’m doing it wrong” etc. is key. Where; “Absence of doubt brings complete success”. This is a speaking stated by a Buddhist mystic saint, which is a practice integrated into my yoga teachings. I believe this can apply into the art of Kenpo similarly, and everyday life – believing we can be great, striving to positively reach our full potential.

I have a great interest in general fitness, and any form of engagement in exercise. I enjoy competitive sparring in Kenpo, and the extensive training that’s required to prepare for competition. I have very fond memories of competition successes in my youth traveling within Europe, and to the USA. Today I am still competing around the world with victories in forms competition and sparring, I am grateful for my successes.

Women in Martial Arts

I had the amazing opportunity to attend the London, England 2012 Olympic Games – where I witnessed Ireland’s gold medal success in Ladies Boxing, Ms Katie Taylor. The Irish boxing phenomenon has boosted female interest in Irish Sport, especially martial arts and boxing alike. This particular female Olympian has shown impressive leadership, and purpose, as the driving force behind the introduction of women’s boxing to the 2012 Olympics. She trains among men, equal as one, not only sparring; but challenging men. She is an inspiration for me in my training, in life, and for female sport as a whole. She has thrived in a male dominated sport, for us as Women in Kenpo she is an athlete we can truly admire. If at times we feel over whelmed in our male dominated training environments – perhaps we can just focus on only the importance of our own tasks and progress, as this is all we have control over, not the opinions and thoughts of others. Adopting this frame of mind will see results and achievements speak for themselves proportionate to our efforts.

Unfortunately I think that some male martial artists partake in Kenpo with intent to be a dominant or superior figure, perhaps to both men and women. To some, rank and line of command is an important aspect to them. For me, rank is obviously important, and we should be proud of our achievements and the enduring work we have done to earn our ranking. But it does not define the type of Kenpo practitioner you are. I think the person you are is important, outside of your ability to perform the physicality’s of our system and rank you have achieved. For me, my study of Kenpo offers much more than the physicality’s, but the useful life skills that I can integrate into everyday living – discipline, respect, and determination. I can truly relate to the statement from the book The Zen of Kenpo: Meanignful Quotes from the Teachings of Ed Parker
– “It is not the aim of Kenpo to merely produce a skilful as well as powerful practitioner, but to create a well-integrated student respectful of all.” 

The Future

I feel that I am just at the beginning of my journey, where I currently have such great female role models to aspire to within our training system, those who show true displays of leadership. I hope to continue my study and practice for many years to come. I am thankful that Kenpo Karate is a part of my life.