10th Degree Black Belt Jujitsu/Judo 7th Degree Black Belt TKD/Karate
Over 47 Years Experience
Before getting into the martial arts Don Bendell was a varsity wrestler at both Coventry and Tallmadge High School in Akron, Ohio, and he also boxed in 1965 as a sparring partner for a Golden Gloves champion. He became a friend of Muhammad Ali starting in 1973. In the martial arts, Bendell started studying first judo in 1966, then jujitsu and karate in 1967, and later studied tae kwon do, judo, and jujitsu. He also competed in tournaments and wrote for several martial arts magazines.
In the early and mid-seventies, Don, a former US Army Special Forces (Green Beret) captain himself, returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and opened a school nearby, while also teaching classes at the Fort Bragg Boxing Club to Green Berets and members of the 82nd Airborne. He and a few civilian volunteers also helped then-Commanding General Hank Emmerson set up a Tae Kwon Do program for the 18th Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, and Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the US Army's "Fit to Fight" program.
Long before the UFC was even a thought, Bendell was combining tae kwon do, jujitsu, and kickboxing into an effective combat fighting style in his classes at the Fort Bragg Boxing Club. And lectured all martial artists who would listen that a true martial artist should have grappling as well as striking skills. His real specialty became unarmed defense against weapons, and creating expedient weapons out of anything handy. He has created his own style of Jujitsu, called Shita Jujitsu, meaning "the Fulfilling Gentle Art," and is Head of Style of Shita Jujitsu as well as Shita Judo. The style is based on Special Forces hand-to-hand combat and modern CQC (Close Quarters Combat), combined with tenets of Kodokan Jujitsu, and Small-Circle Jujitsu. He is also Black Sash Instructor in Muay Thai.
Karate Hall of Fame Inductee
In 1995, Don Bendell, a seventh degree black belt in Freestyle Karate and Song Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do was inducted into the non-profit International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was inducted into the non-profit Martial Arts Museum of America in San Diego
Writer, Director, Producer, Actor
In 1984, THE INSTRUCTOR, an action-adventure martial arts feature film, was released worldwide by Hollywood's Shapiro Entertainment Corporation and Vestron. The film featured actual black belts portraying black belts, including Bendell's instructor, Bob Chaney, who starred in it. THE INSTRUCTOR was written, produced, directed, and co-starred in by Don Bendell, and it was edited and sound-edited by Don and wife Shirley, who also had a featured role in it. The movie was sold in 164 countries and made money around the world and had good reviews in such publications as weekly VARIETY newspaper.
Grandmaster Bendell has been listed in Marquis' WHO'S WHO IN AMERICA and WHO'S WHO IN ENTERTAINMENT since 1992. He has been the subject of feature stories, several times, in BLACK BELT magazine and other martial arts magazines. He has a Master of Science degree in Leadership from the Ken Blanchard College of Business, Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in business in Organizatonal Management from Colorado Christian University. He also hosted a very successful and popular national karate tournament in the late 1990’s and in 2000 called Don Bendell’s Halloween Classic and has trained numerous world, national, and state champions. He has been a featured referee at the Diamond Nationals, Battle of Atlanta, Compete Nationals, Bluegrass Nationals, Sidekick World Championship, Mile High Classic, Desert Classic, ISKA World Championship, Las Vegas Internationals, and was King of Court for the Midwest Tae Kwon Do Championship.
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.