The Mini-Ninja program at Bendell Karate was created and started by Master Shirley Bendell in the early 1990's and was the first program in Colorado for pre-school karate students in the whole state. It has proven to be an excellent feeder program for the school.
It has since been copied by most martial arts schools statewide. 3, 4, and 5 year-olds attend one thirty-minute class per week (at a cost that works out to about $25 per month) and learn the basics of what we teach in a less-structured, fun atmosphere. When learning how to step forward in a front stance, for example, they think they are learning how to walk like a dinosaur. When a child reaches about 5 and a half years, they enter our Power Ninja program, which is a transition program to prepare them for regular, more-structured classes.
The first graduate of Bendell Karate's Mini-Ninja program to reach black belt was Michael Martinez, of Florence, CO, who is now an adult, but he became a two-time World Champion, a United States champion, and a 5-times Colorado State champion. Ms. Jennifer Snyder, a current teen-aged second degree black belt with Bendell Karate, began Mini-Ninjas at 4 years, and a few years ago, was chosen Outstanding Teenager for the state of Colorado, as well as having won multiple state championships in karate in fighting, weapons, and forms.