Kenpo Women’s Symposium
Helping Women Find Community and Grow

Madeleine Leppert

Madeleine Leppert’s first introduction to Kenpo Karate was in 2007 as an infant crawling on the mats at Northwest Kenpo Karate while her mom trained under Mr. Chris Panting, who would later become one of her favorite friends and an important “grandpa” figure in her life. As she grew up, her mom would ask her if she was interested in participating in Kenpo. Madeleine did not express any interest, but her mom continued to ask every so often. One evening in late 2021, Madeleine and her mom were talking and she randomly asked, “Mom, what if I did Kenpo?” Her mom was so excited Madeleine initiated the conversation, but she kept her composure and simply responded, “What if?” and shrugged her shoulders.

Madeleine began her training in Kenpo Karate under Mr. Kurt Becker the following week, attending with her mom and three brothers. A naturally strong and independent young woman, she immediately gravitated toward the discipline and structure within the art and has been training ever since. She is currently a yellow belt and has set a goal to obtain her black belt.

Madeleine attended her first John Sepulveda Spirit Camp at Camp Gifford in 2022 and experienced a broader view of Kenpo focused on family, honor, respect, and significant lessons taught over that weekend. One of the most pivotal moments for Madeleine was the Saturday night fireside chat, attended by many of the greatest Kenpo practitioners of our time. Closing out the fireside, to honor the memory of Sigung Steven LaBounty, we recited the chant, “Not me! Not today!” Establishing and solidifying the mindset that we do not have to be a victim of circumstance, this chant stuck with Madeleine. “Not me. Not today.” It became a personal mantra she shared with others post-camp. She was so moved by the power and collective camaraderie of this recitation. In the days following camp, she told her mom, “We should order stickers that say ‘Not me! Not today!’ to be reminded of our strength.” We scoured the internet and did not find anything like it, so we shared the idea with the other members of the Kenpo Women’s Symposium Board. Shortly thereafter, artwork was created by a fellow board member (Meka Ullerick) and high-quality stickers were born. These stickers are now handed out at women’s self-defense seminars as a reminder of that mentality: Not me! Not today!

Madeleine was invited to join the Kenpo Women’s Symposium Board as a Youth Ambassador in 2022, a result of her desire to advance the work of promoting women in Kenpo Karate. At 17 years old, in addition to attending her senior year of high school, she also participates in Running Start (a college program for high school students to complete their Associate’s degree by the time they graduate high school), attends early-morning Seminary class, works as a cook at a local restaurant, works during summer and fall at the local theme park in the Food and Beverage department as a lead, and she serves in her church’s Young Women’s organization.

She loves training in Kenpo Karate, enjoying her dog and cats, spending time with her friends, having the freedom of driving, taking day trips for her birthday to random small towns to explore, enjoying spontaneous adventures with her mom, dad, and 4 siblings, playing trombone and softball, and giving hugs to elderly friends at church.