Kenpo students hitting each other hard

Stanford Kenpo Karate welcomes beginning karate students at the beginning of each new academic quarter. Kenpo requires no prior martial arts experience and accommodates all levels of fitness.

Beginners will learn basic blocks, kicks, and strikes. The curriculum includes basics, self-defense techniques, forms, and sparring. Continuing students will have the opportunity to earn belt ranks.

If you have particular questions, please see our frequently asked questions, or feel free to contact us.

Meeting times and location

Note: for winter quarter 2018, we will be starting evening classes at 7:30PM.

Monday and Wednesday, 7:30PM to 9:00PM
Saturday, 10AM to 12PM (optional for beginners)

Classes are held in Burnham Pavilion at 615 Serra Street, in the back of the Ford Center, at the corner of Serra and Galvez (campus map). Enter through the doors of Ford Center, go straight down the hallway to the gym at the back of the building. Look for the people with the black uniforms (gis). Note that you will need a Stanford ID in order to enter the gym. If you do not have a Stanford ID, please contact us if you plan on attending so that we can make proper arrangements for entry.

What is Kenpo and why should I try it?

Self-defense: Kenpo is a unique style that centers around teaching students practical and efficient self-defense skills.
Instruction: Our black belts each have 12+ years of experience in Kenpo and focus on providing personal, positive instruction, often in small groups or even 1-on-1.
Fitness: Improve your conditioning, flexibility, balance, and coordination.
Self-confidence: Build self-confidence for all aspects of life—not just walking down dark alleys.
Stress relief: Leave the pressures of Stanford student life at the door and walk away feeling ready to take on the next challenge.
Community: Kenpo is a tight-knit and welcoming family. Make new friends and enjoy club social activities, including occasional trips to Santa Cruz and Lake Tahoe.
Approachable: We take pride in developing students starting from their very first class—no previous experience is needed.

How is Kenpo different from other SMAP martial arts?

Stanford Kenpo is the place to learn practical real-world self-defense skills. Kenpo is known for fast, effective strikes to vulnerable targets using both hands and feet as well as joint locks, throws, and submission holds. It is a modern, constantly-evolving style that incorporates the best of other styles as well—several of our instructors hold black belts in other martial arts including Escrima and Jujitsu.

In addition, no other group has more talented and experienced instructors than Stanford Kenpo. Four of our black belts have 20+ years not just studying Kenpo, but with Stanford Kenpo. Our Head Instructor, (Sensei) Ken Van Vleck began practicing Stanford Kenpo as an undergraduate in 1987.

Our Sensei-emeritus (O-Sensei) Barbara Minneti, brings her background as a professional educator to our club and ensures a consistently high level of instruction from our black belts.

How do I try out Kenpo?

Just show up! We welcome new students during the first few weeks of each academic quarter at Stanford. Everyone is welcome to try out Kenpo for several classes before committing to paying dues for the quarter or buying a uniform. Come wearing loose-fitting pants and a plain t-shirt.

If possible, bring a signed waiver and show up a few minutes early. We’ll also have waivers available, but show up early so you can fill it out.


Quarterly fees are $50 for students, faculty, and staff. Quarterly fees for community members not affiliated with Stanford are $100. Make checks payable to ASSU Stanford Kenpo Karate Association and indicate your Stanford I.D. on the check (if you have one). Checks are greatly preferred, but cash is accepted.


Club members are required to wear a black karate uniform (gi) to all classes. The cost of the uniform is $50, and includes the gi, a white belt, a club T–shirt, and a mouthguard (for sparring). Male students are also required to wear a protective athletic cup, which can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.