John McKenna is the founder of Wu-Li. 
He received his First Degree Black belt in 1977.

The most important thing when looking for a qualified instructor is: 

Do you like the person? 
Do they move in ways that you want to move? 
Are they in great shape?  Do they have skills that you want to learn? 
Can you respect this person? Do they have peace, poise, balance? 
Do you like the art that they teach? 
Is this art useful to you and your personal goals? 

John McKenna has been a lifelong student of Martial Arts. He has been teaching in Evergreen since 1983. John is a long time Evergreen resident (since 1982).  

Here is a brief overview of the Martial Arts path John has traveled.

Raised in Queens, New York, it was a rough neighborhood, street fighting was prevalent. Learning about it seemed like a good and necessary skill for survival. The passion for organized Martial Arts training was born out of this need at age twelve when John studied Self-defense Books. Then John moved to Florida and it took a while to find a good school because Martial Arts was new and just getting started. At age sixteen John entered a training program with Sensei Al Walters, trained 5 days a week and received his first degree Black belt  in Japanese Go-Ju Ryu Karate at age 19, This was the year 1977.

Sensei Walters moved and John began training in the other styles available, in hopes of finding a new instructor  equal to Sensei Walters in skill. This was a long path. John Studied Lo Hans Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do, White Crane Kung Fu, Boxing, and Aikido for the next several years. Finally settling down into Tae Kwon Do, starting over and earning 2nd degree black belt under Chris Chelf in 1984.

In 1984 John McKenna met Bob Orlando and found the teacher he had been looking for. Bob Orlando was a highly skilled Black Belt in Chinese Kempo under Sifu Al Dacascos. When John met Bob Orlando, Bob was studying Chinese Kuntao and Indonesian Pentjak Silat under Willem De Thouars.

The Search was over. There was never a need to go anywhere else after meeting Bob Orlando. He was an innovative pioneer in Martial Arts, a highly skilled Black Belt, a great teacher, very demanding and tough on the black belt students, and also a published author of several Martial Arts books and various videos that were very effective. John McKenna still calls Bob Orlando his teacher and has been training with him for 28 years. Bob Orlando always encouraged John to expand his skills in many areas. During the last 28 years with Bob Orlando John has continued to augment his training with Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling, Small Circle Jiu-Jitsu, Indonesian Pentjak-Silat, Tai-Chi, and Mixed Martial Arts.

People often ask "what degree are you?" It is a meaningless question, because some schools will promote a 9 year old kid to a third degree black belt after only 5 years. Other schools don't award a first degree until ten years of training have gone by. By then the 9 year old is 19 and a 7th degree master. I think you get the idea. Some systems don't use belts and yet produce fantastic practitioners. Perhaps asking someone how long they have trained and what they have studied would be more meaningful.

In our art of Kenpo/Kuntao we don't use titles or the word master. We know that we are always students of this art. We continue to learn, and try to be humble about it. We do not wear red stripes on our black belts to signify degree, but we all know the levels of skill we hold. Suffice it to say that Bob Orlando did award to John McKenna the highest rank possible in this art, of GURU and full instructor, on April 1st 2006. But what does that mean to someone? Not much.

Comparing apples to Oranges. It would be appropriate to say that if a practitioner is training and teaching at the Black Belt level he or she will mark another degree of skill every 5 years. So we can always do the math if need be. Displaying the degrees publicly might create unnecessary ego. As my teacher suggested to me, "why be burdened with a sense of self importance and rank if you don't need it to keep improving and enjoying your art". After all, it is a path, not a destination.

John flight.jpg (28535 bytes)
gotta go



Wu-Li School of Martial Arts Evergreen Colorado