Note from Admin:  I’m always happy to present new content on this site.  Kenpowomen is comprised of talent all throughout the world, I’m so very excited to share Ms McGee’s blackbelt thesis/journey today.  This is exactly what we look for in honoring Women in Kenpo and I thank Barb White and Dorenda McGee for taking the time to put this together.    Andree Scanlon.



Black Belt Thesis: Mrs. Dorenda McGee


Three elements: One desired result, Success.

KENPO: Aug 2008 to Present Day.

My Kenpo journey started indirectly in January 2008, while watching my two sons attend their first Kenpo class in Trim Town Hall under the instruction of Mr Matt Molloy. I was very impressed by the discipline, respect, skill and fitness portrayed by the class.  After my sons first lesson, they made a deal with me that when they gained their first belt, rank yellow, I had to join Kenpo training too. They achieved their goal in July that same year and  held me to that promise. I signed up at Trim Kenpo Karate Academy, August 2008, in Trim town hall. Shortly after joining I became an assistant with the childrens classes and, today, I am an instructor at the Academy.

The following is an extract from my thesis.

The Ingredients for Success

The Ingredients for Success fall under three headings:

1. Success coach.

2. Student.

3. Instructor.

These three elements need to work in harmony to achieve the primary success goal of the student – being awarded a Black Belt.

 The Success Coach (Parent) 

The Parent “Success Coach” in me, wants my children to experience and study Kenpo. It teaches them discipline and to respect their elders and peers. It is a means to keeping them fit, flexible and healthy, and to learning self defence.  It is a skill that makes them aware of potential dangers in life. It trains them to think before they act; the warriors defence is only as good as the student within. A warrior alone, does not think of all possibilities of attack. That’s why training and learning defence is important, to keep them safe.  Kids that learn to swim are safer in deep waters. Same for Kenpo, kids who study self defence, learn to try and stay safe.

The Student

As a student, I have found that learning Kenpo is a stimulating and challenging journey. Likewise, I found that my recent experience of climbing Croagh Patrick, the holy mountain in Co. Mayo, was a similar, albeit much shorter, journey. The path at the beginning was clear and the slope was not too demanding. Then it evolved into a steeper incline where progress slows, many pause to catch a breath, and some reconsider their ‘expedition’, give up and turn back. As you continue upwards the gradient gets even steeper and increasingly difficult; underfoot conditions deteriorate as slippery stones replace the well-worn track, the weather worsens – temperatures drop and the wind increases – and ones vision is often obscured from low-hanging clouds. Finally, as one approaches the summit (Black Belt) you break through the clouds, and the view becomes clear. Some time needs to be spent in this place – to get ones breath back, to take stock of ones surroundings and the enormity of the journey undertaken – the Kenpo Black Belt Journey.

On the mountain descent, I retreated my steps. The going was easier, gravity was now my friend; but caution was still needed, nothing could be taken for granted; it was easy to misplace a foot or to wander off the path – that could be very detrimental. It is important to remember what one observed and learned on the the journey to the summit. This I believe resembles post-Black Belt achievement.


Croagh Patrick, Co.Mayo.

My Journey.

The Instructor

Instructing is a great experience for me. It means that I can be challenged on the spot about my knowledge of Kenpo. This implies that my training must be incessant and my reading must be up to date and importantly, fresh in my mind. The constant repetition associated with teaching, has exposed me to many possibilities and helped me to perfect my techniques and counter attacks.  I find that younger kids in particular see things in a different way. They ask questions without inhibition (but not cheeky), as the answer is important to them. If I have the answer it is given. If I am unable to answer the question I spend time researching the issue through use of reference books and/or obtaining guidance from higher level instructors. Instructing has helped me answer some of my own ‘questions’ and has signficantly increased my awareness of Kenpo.

My Journey as a Parent, Student and Instructor:  

I believe I am fortunate to have studied and learned Kenpo through multiple, and often simultaneous, channels. Firstly as a parent, watching my three children at their first classes until today (they are now, black belt red stripe, red belt black stripe and blue belt), then ‘joining them on the floor’ as a student and experiencing first hand the questions, queries and clarifiactions they requested from their instructors (and more recently from me), and finally, as an assistant instructor myself.  I count myself lucky to have had the opportunity to develop my teaching skill from the start of my journey, as a White Belt. Begining the class, with basics moves and warm ups was straight-forward but holding the attention  of all the students, was a skill that I had to develop. This experience taught me a lot about; having patience; how to be assertive without being overly dogmatic; how important it is to introduce a ‘fun’ element to the class; the neccessity to repeat simple instuctions to young students and especially, to communicate at their ‘level’.  It is also critical to evaluate the individual student and only give manageable ‘bite size’ amounts of curiculum to work on, rather than a whole chapter. Little and often always works best. From my experience in instructing classes I believe the following saying is a ‘nugget of wisdom’:       “Slow to learn, Slow to forget. Fast to learn, Fast to forget.”