Kenpo Women’s Symposium
Helping Women Find Community and Grow

Mikie Rowe Moore

After seeing Bruce Lee as Kato in the Green Hornet television show, Mikie Rowe Moore wanted to learn karate. In 1968, Mikie started karate with her first instructor, Nancy Miller – the first woman to be promoted to 1st Degree Black Belt in Kajukenbo-Kempo by Charles Gaylord. On March 3, 1973, Mikie received her 1st Degree Black Belt at the Northern California Referees’ Association’s end-of-the-year banquet, where she was the only female member. Grandmaster Gaylord removed his belt and promoted Mikie with it, remarking he never wanted anyone to question her rank or if she earned the right to wear a Black Belt. Mikie was instrumental in establishing women’s divisions in California tournaments. She asked Al Reyes, Sr. to have a division for women of all weights, sizes and belts at this tournament. She also promised if no one showed up she would pay for the trophies. The following month karate history was made. California had women’s divisions from then on. Mikie continued to make tournaments better for women and children.

 In 1969, Mikie opened a karate school in Orinda, California, where she and her husband, also a black belt, taught karate. In 1972, she opened a Women’s Figure Salon and Karate School in El Sobrante, California, 25 miles from the Orinda School. A familiar face on local TV station San Pablos’ Channel 6, Mikie had her own exercise show, which ran from 1973 to 1975.

Mikie and her students did demonstrations for the California city of Richmond’s 4th of July Celebration for 20,000 people in 1975 and 1976. Mikie competed in most of the major tournaments where she won or placed. In 1977, she won 1st place at Ed Parker’s International Karate Championships in the Lightweight Black Belt Women’s division. She bowed out to her student and teammate who had won the Heavyweight Black Belt Women’s division for Grand Champion. That was the first year there was a Grand Champion Black Belt for women. Mikie’s two women’s black belt teams took 1st and 2nd places, while her white belt team took 1st place.

In 1973, Mikie received the coveted Mike Stone’s Gold Fist Award for 1971-1973 Outstanding Competitor, which was the only year the Golden Fist was awarded. Mikie was one of the first 10 women to be nominated for the nation’s Top 10 Karate Women, and the first from northern California. She was also in the first top five to be rated in Karate Illustrated. She remained in the top 10 and top five until she retired from competition in 1977. She has been inducted into the Kenpo International Hall of Fame, as well as the Cleveland Martial Arts Hall of Fame, and has received the Kumite Classic Bushido award. She was the first woman to be inducted into the Cleveland Actions magazine, and she received the Hall of Honors Lifetime Achievement award and the Joe Lewis Eternal Warrior Award. In the Bay area during the 1970s and 1980s, Mikie was a consultant on movie sets as a martial arts advisor. She was also on national talk shows where she pushed her Common Sense Self Defense.

Even in her 80s, Mikie is still training and teaching seminars all over the country. She has been a member of the American Karate Academy National Association (AKANA) since 2014. Mikie also promotes the Sports Karate Museum all over the country. Recently, she entered a tournament after not competing since 1977, and she took 3rd place. When asked why she entered, she said, “I teach people how to fight in competition, so I needed to see if what I am teaching worked.” She seems to like to mix it up.