Our Kempo Roots: The Story of Kempo Martial Arts

Our Mission

We at Kempo believe human development to be the worthiest of goals and the Kempo atmosphere to be the superior condition for nurturing growth in people. We are dedicated to helping those we serve as well as our teammates to develop physically, emotionally and in spirit. We use martial arts based self-defense and conditioning programs to help all who have a stake in Kempo develop to their fullest. We offer improved health, security, confidence, self-discipline, power, excitement, peace, hope and strength as our products.  

Company History

ChinesekempoEd Parker, A Hawaiian descendant of king Kamaya Maya, studied with William Chow (son of W.K.S. Chow). Ed Parker moved to the mainland in the 1950’s and taught Kenpo extensively in California. Al and Jim Tracy learned Ed Parker’s Kenpo system and then opened Kenpo schools throughout the United States. Frank Demuro and Jerry Maggard opened a Tracy’s club in 1969, but soon changed the name to Midwest Studios of Self-Defense. As we understand it, the name was changed in order to introduce material from Frank’s previously studied style of Tang Soo Do. Today, we still teach Frank’s kipon and pinon katas. The name change meant he no longer taught a strict Tracy’s system of Kenpo.

Tom Nehring became a Tracy’s student in 1975. In March of 1976, Midwest Studios of Self-Defense closed its doors. Tom Nehring bought the equipment in April of that year, hired instructors Jesse Mendoza and Mike Sherman and opened the first Chinese Kempo Karate location. Without the rights to use the Tracy’s Kenpo name, Tom reverted to James Mitose’s KEMPO spelling.

Since 1976, Kempo Martial Arts centers have grown to approximately 250 members, serving Toledo and Sylvania Ohio and much of southeast Michigan including Temperance, Lambertville and Blissfield. Tom and his instructors have refined and developed our KEMPO system to its present state using principles of physics, boxing, and kickboxing. It’s not always the karate near me or the martial arts near me that’s the best match for my family. Kempo has been named the Best Martial Arts dojo in Toledo five years running by the readership of Toledo City Paper. We’re worth the drive. We at Kempo Martial Arts believe human development is the worthiest of all goals and the Kempo atmosphere to be the superior condition for developing the inner strength needed to grow. Sensei Tom Nehring’s Kempo (sometimes called Kenpo Karate) has produced more than 200 Kempo Black Belts, since 1976 via our Kempo Black Belt Training. We’d like to add your name to this honored list.

Self-defense training can be a fun workout, just ask any Kempo Karate Kid or Adult Karate Kid. An Adult Kempo workout is more than just a kickboxing.  You’ll learn real self-defense techniques for a variety of situations. In a self defense situation, confidence is an absolute necessity.  It’s our confident attitude that discourages the assailant. Aggressors actually choose victims who  lack confidence with uncanny accuracy.  The Martial Art of Kempo builds the confidence needed to remove one from the role of victim. Press the ‘TRY US’ button, to learn why Sensei Tom Nehring’s Kempo is the end of your search for women’s self defense.


Meet the Team

  • Tom Nehring

      In March of 1975 I enrolled at Midwest Studio of Self-Defense on Secor Road in Toledo, Ohio. I was 25 years of age and still greatly lacked self-confidence. Less than a year later Midwest Studio closed. I really wanted to continue my training; and in a moment of virtual insanity I hired my instructors and ...
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    • Laura Sharp

      Senior Instructor
        I started Kempo in 1997 when I was 10 years old. I received my 1st Degree Black Belt on Dec 7, 2003, my 2nd Dan Feb 22 2006 and my 3rd Dan on Aug 10, 2010. I’ve been a Kempo Sensei for 11 years officially and trained for a year before that. I train and ...
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      • Kevin Pulhug

          Sensei Kevin here – I started Kempo in April of 1980. I promoted to 1st kyu brown belt in 1983 and instructed for several months under Sensei Tom in 1984. A promotion at my other job and the birth of my son drew me away from Kempo. I returned in June of 2012 and earned ...
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        • Joe LeBlanc

          Senior Testing Instructor
            I’m Sensei Joe; testing instructor at KMA. I started my journey under Sensei Tom in January of 1995 at age 9. It has been a most interesting and valuable experience. I am known jokingly as the most feared person at Kempo Martial Arts because every student testing for every rank below black belt must be ...
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          • Tim Robinson

              I moved to Ohio in 1995. Upon my arrival I immediately sought a dojo where I could continue my studies in T’ai Chi. Luckily I found Kempo Martial Arts Centers – although back in those days we were known by a different name. I fell in love with my fellow students, the instructors and the ...
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            • Jack Dowd

              Weapons Instructor/Kempo Instructor
                Hi, I’m Sensei Jack! I teach the Weapons Training Classes here at KMA. I have been taking martial arts lessons since I was just 5 years old and tested for my 1st Dan Black Belt in August of 2010 and just recently tested for my 2nd Dan this year! I have always had a passion ...
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              • Brittany Bauer

                  Hi! My name is Sensei Brittany! I began my amazing journey at Kempo Martial Arts in 2002 at the age of 9. I received my 1st Degree Black Belt on August 19, 2007 and my 2nd Degree Black Belt on November 16, 2014. I have also been an instructor here since 2009 and currently teach ...
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                Brittany Bauer

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