Kenpo Women’s Symposium
Helping Women Find Community and Grow

Marysol Céspedes Aranda

Having recently celebrated her 30th anniversary in Kenpo, Marysol Céspedes Aranda’s journey began in October 1992 at the age of 6. Her parents saw Master Mario Gálvez on television and were encouraged to sign her and her brothers up in martial arts in an effort to focus their energy and hyperactive personalities towards something good.

The world of Kenpo was dominated by males, causing a simplified version of Kenpo to be created for females. Since women were not common in Kenpo, this allowed her to stand out in competitions and advance to the next belt levels upon successfully fulfilling the requirements for each level. This created a resolve in Marysol to become a black belt and to be better every day.

After many attempts to place first in tournaments, especially in point sparring categories, she finally achieved 1st place in self-defense at the age of 13 when she was a 3rd degree brown belt.

It was not until her first dangerous situation that she questioned her approach to training. Though she survived the situation, she resolved to focus more than ever on a core aspect of Kenpo – self-defense.

In 2000, at the age of 14, Marysol achieved the rank of black belt. She knew that was the beginning of a long life in the Kenpo System. Marysol took on the stereotypical challenge to demolish the myth that young women were not capable of achieving the rank of black belt.

When she was about 16 or 17 years old, Marysol was approached by a 10 year-old who tried to steal her cell phone on the way home. At that time, she had been teaching classes in the dojo of Master Mario Gálvez for a few years. This situation, as well as other life experiences, aided in her decision to continue her training as an instructor, focusing on teaching children. She wanted to become an agent of change in their lives and provide principles to future generations.

Between 2006 and 2019, Marysol traveled to Venezuela and the U.S. to compete and participate in seminars with first-generation masters of Kenpo. She also taught alongside Master Mario Gálvez in his seminars.

Marysol has been instrumental in introducing Spanish-speaking women to Kenpo Karate. In 2016, she started a project and Facebook page called Mujeres en Kenpo, a Spanish version of Women in Kenpo.

In 2022, she was invited to become an Ambassador for Latin America as part of the Kenpo Women Symposium Leadership Team, where she continues to actively participate.

Professionally, Marysol holds the title of Auditor Accountant and has diplomas in Information Security and Cybersecurity, currently working in a professional services firm as a Senior Manager.