6th Degree Black Belt
A 2009 inductee into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame, making Ms. Bendell the third woman ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and also she and Grandmaster Bendell are the first couple EVER BOTH inducted in the Hall of Fame. Ms. Bendell is an action-oriented person—a sixth degree black belt with over thirty-three years experience in Tae Kwon Do, Freestyle Karate, Judo, and Jujitsu. She created an innovative Mini-Ninja program for 3, 4, and 5 year-olds, which was copied by most karate schools in Colorado. Shirley is Overall Manager of Bendell Karate in Pueblo West and oversees all book-keeping and finances.
Master Shirley Bendell competed in tournament competition for several years, and during that time, she not only took first place in sparring every time she competed, she literally has never had a single point scored against her by another woman.
Like Don, Shirley has been a long-time recovering alcoholic and is public about being a former victim of both acquaintance rape and gang rape before getting into the martial arts. In 1996, she won the very prestigious Jefferson Award for southern Colorado from KOAA NBC-TV and the PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN, for her work with rape victims, alcoholics, drug addicts, and her outstanding Sexual Assault Prevention Program (S.A.P.) for women.
Also like Don, Shirley was born in northeastern Ohio, graduating from Youngstown Boardman High School and living much of her life in Akron, Ohio As a young girl, Shirley used to give acrobatic exhibitions until breaking her tailbone. She used to break horses and still rides for pleasure. She is a graduate of Colorado State University-Pueblo with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication with Emphasis on Film, Television, and Video. She is also a survivor of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia with Lymphoid Blast Crisis and given no hope for survival several times.
Grandmaster Don Bendell has learned from a number of martial artists, but his only recognized instructor has been for decades and remains former World Champion Grandmaster Bob Chaney of Temecula, California.