HISTORY OF BENDELL KARATE
Having started in the martial arts when they were 5 and 4 years old, Bendell Karate was founded in 1991, by black belt brothers Brent and Joshua Bendell when they were 16 and 15 years old respectively, so they could have some money for CU and CSU Football Camps and "to buy some cool-looking clothes." They never looked back.
From Living Room to Two Locations
They started with four students, moving the furniture out of their living room two days a week, with their black belt mother Shirley handling their book-keeping and being legally responsible for their business dealings. Within weeks, they had to rent a small building on Main Street in Canon City, and ended up buying out the sixth month of their lease, so they could move into an even bigger facility. With the volunteer assistance of their father, Don, a Grandmaster instructor, Brent and Joshua kept growing, opening a branch of Bendell Karate in fast-growing Pueblo West, thirty some miles to the east in 1996.
State Champs and Young Entrepreneurs
In less than a year, they were featured on ESPN's SCHOLASTIC SPORTS AMERICA, as football stars, who also owned and operated a successful karate school, won 9 Colorado State Championships between them in both karate and jujitsu, were scholars, and were the youngest members ever of the Canon City's Chamber of Commerce.
In 1996, they also incorporated and sold a little stock under the umbrella of Samurai Martial Arts Corporation, and officially brought their dad and mom in as partners and stockholders.
Record Breaking Brothers
Both Joshua and Brent ended up breaking or tying 16 school football records at Florence High School, which still stand, and both were on the DENVER POST ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAM their senior years of high school, with Brent playing in Australia as the running back for Colorado in the DOWN-UNDER BOWL in the summer after high school graduation in 1994, and both were awarded football scholarships to college. Wanting to simply achieve a childhood goal to become a professional football player, Brent was a running back for a short period during training camp of a professional arena league football team making the team as the first string running back. Having satisfied his goal, he quit to pursue his career in Muay Thai kickboxing.
Trained Under World Karate Champion Bob Chaney
Brent went to Thailand and trained in Muay Thai kickboxing, then Joshua started training, and both brothers fought in Las Vegas, being trained and managed by their father's longtime instructor Grandmaster Bob Chaney, a former World Karate Champion. Joshua later moved to California to train under Grandmaster Chaney, and he turned professional in December of 2001, having also trained in Bangkok, and moving to Thailand shortly after.
Seven Knockouts in Under 40 Seconds
Under the tutelage of Coach Bob Chaney, Joshua "The Avenger" Bendell became the undefeated California State Lightweight Muay Thai Kickboxing champion before his pro debut, which he won by a unanimous decision in the Junior Welterweight class. In Joshua's next fight, he knocked his opponent out in 39 seconds. The Avenger's combined amateur/pro record was soon eleven and zero with seven knockouts in less than forty seconds. He made quite a name for himself in kickboxing and boxing circles with a professional record of 16-3, and lived and trained in Muay Thai training camps for two years in both Kosimui Island in southern Thailand and in Bangkok, fighting in all the major stadiums there. He also fought on World Championship Kickboxing on Pay-Per-View twice and in Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Los Angeles as well.
Turning Management Over to Dad
Master Brent Bendell returned to kickboxing and moved to Bangkok, Thailand in December of 2003, where he fought professionally, but he returned to the US and enlisted in the military in pursuit of a career. His brother, Joshua, left Thailand retiring due to injuries in November of 2004 and returned to Cañon City. Joshua then also enlisted in the military. Both are in the U.S. Army Special Forces and are deorated combat veterans and senior NCOs. Brent is a 6th degree Black Belt Master Instructor and Joshua is a 6th Degree Black Belt Master Instructor and also a National Karate Champion in sparring. Between the 2 of them, the Bendell brothers also won a total of 11 Colorado State Championships. In fact in 2000, Brent was not only the Colorado Karate Association's State Middleweight Black Belt Champion in sparring, he won the title with over 600 points and the 2nd place black belt had only 100+ points. When Josh was fighting in Los Angeles one time, Grandmaster Chuck Norris was ringside and told assembled fans, "Joshua Bendell is pound-for-pound the toughest fighter in the world."
Grandmaster (Don) Bendell took over Bendell Karate in October, 2002, and was Grandmaster Instructor of both schools and taught some classes at each, as well as overseeing the curriculum and policy. Master Shirley Bendell managed both schools, overseeing the book-keeping, and teaching classes herself. There are also a dozen fine 1st through 5th Degree Black Belt Instructors and a number of Black Belt Assistant Instructors. Each worked hard to earn their Black Belts, Assistant Instructor patches, and finally, Instructor patches. Consequently, those Instructors, like the Bendell's zealously protect such honors and the legacy of the school and insure all who follow "earn their way too without ever lowering the bar."
Due to the sluggish economy and family health issues, in January, 2012, the Bendells closed the Canon City school and on April 1st, 2012, moved the Pueblo West school into a 1,000 square foot larger new building in the same shopping center.
Over 47 Years Experience in the Martial Arts
Don 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 mid-seventies, Don, a former Green Beret himself, returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina and opened a school in Fayetteville, 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, such as the late-Mike Echanis, 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 Fit to Fight" program. In the early-seventies, 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. His real specialty became unarmed defense against weapons, and creating expedient weapons out of anything handy. He also opened a branch school in Pinehurst, NC and taught there each week, too.
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, and directed by Don Bendell who also co-starred in it and was stunt coordinator. It was edited and sound-edited by Don and wife Shirley, who also had a featured role in it. The movie was sold and shown in 164 countries around the world and had good reviews in such publications as weekly VARIETY newspaper.
Karate Hall of Fame Inductees
Then 5th degree black belt Master Shirley Bendell of Florence, Colorado, was shocked and surprised, in December, 2009, when she was inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame, joining her husband Grandmaster Don Bendell to become the first husband and wife ever to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. In 1995, Don Bendell was inducted into the non-profit International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame. In 1996, he was inducted into the Martial Arts Museum of America in San Diego, California, and has since been inducted into other martial arts halls of fame, and has been the subject of several feature photo stories in acclaimed BLACK BELT, SOLDIER OF FORTUNE, and other national magazines.
Head of Style
He has created and is Soke, or Head of Style, of Shita Jujitsu and Shita Judo. Shita Jujitsu is Japanese for "the fulfilling gentle art." Grandmaster Bendell created the style by combining Small-Circle Jujitsu, Kodokan Jujitsu, and USA Special Forces Combat Jujitsu. As Soke, or Head of Style, Grandmaster Bendell is a 10th degree black belt in Shita Jujitsu amd Shita Judo. He has been a 7th degree black belt in Song Moo Kwon Tae Kwon Do and Freestyle Karate since 1995 and cannot be promoted because of the ranking above him being frozen.
In 1998, 1999, and 2000, Don and Shirley produced "Don Bendell's Halloween Classic," a very successful and popular large national NASKA and ISKA karate tournament which attracted competitors from Minnesota to Los Angeles to Washington, DC to Florida and everywhere in-between. There were 185 divisions with 185 6-foot tall 1st Place trophies. Although many have requested continuing the tournament, the big project was not in line with their other goals, and the Bendells retired from the tournament world after training and producing many world, national, and state champions, including a 11-time world champion. Grandmaster Don Bendell has been "King of Court" in large Tae Kwon Do tournaments and a primary black belt referee in the Battle of Atlanta, Diamond Nationals in St. Paul, Bluegrass Nationals in Nashville, Compete Nationals in LA, Sidekick World Championships in Washington, DC, ISKA World Championships in Las Vegas, Desert Classic in Phoenix, Mile High Classic in Denver, Four Seasons in Cleveland, and many more. When competing, years ago, Master Shirley Bendell not only won every time she competed, she never had a single point scored against her in sparring competition.
The Bendells are the first and ONLY couple in history to BOTH be inducted into the International Karate and Kickboxing Hall of Fame.