Protect Your Most Valuable Asset, Yourself and Those You Love

Pacific Shaolin Kenpo, Academy

Using Respect always leads to Gain. But Dis-Respect always leads to Loss ~ John Kraft

John Kraft, Sue Messenger, Cindy Kraft, Jenny Kraft, Bob Alexander, Ben Galeana, Pacific Shaolin Kenpo, 1995

School History

Our Happy Place Realized

Pacific Shaolin Kenpo, Aberdeen, Washington was founded by former classmates Sue Jacobus-Messenger and John Kraft and the support and involvement of their Families at the end of 1993 and beginning of 1994.

The Mood in 1994

In 1994, Pacific Shaolin Kenpo, aka; PSK was accepted into the ‘International Shaolin Kenpo Association’. We were thrilled. To meet ISKA standards, all school owners must hold the rank of 3rd Degree or above. To our surprise, the 2 new owners: Sue Messenger-Jacobus and John Kraft were both awarded 3rd degree Black Belts to meet these standards. We were thrilled to become instructors in good standing with Ralph Castro and The International Shaolin Kenpo Association. It meant we were connected to the source and could advance with Knowledge and Rank, both necessary for the success of a school.

This made PSK the 1st and only school sanctioned in Washington state to teach and award rank Legitimately under Ralph Castro and ISKA and our accomplishment would remain for the next 22 years, until 2016.


In 1994, Joining the International Shaolin Kenpo Association meant the sky had just opened up. Our former ties to a leader who had no interest in gaining more knowledge from Ralph Castro was no longer an obstacle. Later, we would learn why our instructor wanted to avoid Ralph Castro.

After placing ourselves under Ralph Castro as our head instructor, our ability to learn and grow was unlimited. We began our student - teacher relationship with San Francisco Martial Arts Legend, Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro enthusiastically. We were Honored to become the ‘1st Shaolin Kenpo School’ Sanctioned by ISKA in Washington State.

Our school was more than just a place for people to meet and learn, it became a close-knit family of those who loved the same sport and had the same interests. Within every family is diversity and we were open to the differences of those in our family. We applauded the students for their own ideas and allowed them to be creative, competitive and helped them expand in doing the things they were interested in.

Our students excelled and we're so proud of each of them. Together, they are what made Pacific Shaolin Kenpo a successful school with an average of 70 students per month and a steady attendance. Sue and I reinvested our profit into the students' needs by hosting seminars that the school paid for. We made enough to keep the school doors open and that was good enough for us.

We had a great thing going and it showed.


Our school dissolved at the end of 1999 caused by a short-lived school takeover that began in 1998. Unfortunately, our head instructor was having a medical crisis. A tumor that had been removed from her brain in 1983 had grown back making her delusional. She believed wholly that our school was hers and she wanted it as her own. She contacted Ralph Castro, who was under the impression that our school was Her's at that time, and he came to her rescue. At that time, he believed Pacific Shaolin Kenpo was owned by Maria Warwick and it was not.

Sue and I were both reprimanded for being disrespectful to Maria even though we were the true owners. Ralph Castro didn't know that Maria was our guest instructor, or that she was not an owner in any way. Ralph Castro was deceived. Maria had help from her student Adam Lin and our Student Black Belt Ben Galeana.

But Maria's takeover of our school was short lived. She realized she couldn't do it within a year and left. Adam soon left after Maria and that placed the entire burden on Ben Galeana to run the school. Ben tried to combine the Adult and Childrens classes into one class combined with the Spanish class and that didn't work.

In the end, the takeover of our school by Maria and her helpers was short lived. They lost the school. They also lost a home for the students of Pacific Shaolin Kenpo. None of the 3 who took over our school contacted me at any time to alert me the school was failing so I could go back and try to pick up the broken pieces and rebuild the school. It was at a later time that Ralph Castro heard the truth and realized he had been deceived by those students who had believed in, betraying his trust.

Truth and Reconciliation

In 2014, John Kraft reconnected with Ralph Castro. Because the truth had finally been told and was known, we finally reconciled. And so now, the record stands: Sue Jacobus Messenger and her family and John Kraft and his family are and have been in good standing with the Castro family and ISKA since 1994.

Sue Jacobus-Messenger and John Kraft are both recorded as High-Ranking Black Belt instructors in good standing on the Shaolin Kenpo Family Tree. The students of Pacific Shaolin Kenpo who were Awarded Black Belts by Sue and John are also recorded on the Shaolin Kenpo Family Tree.

In 2015, John Kraft and his son Sam Kraft helped a friend, Clay Micheau also go from his 1st degree Black Belt in Shaolin Kenpo to a 3rd Degree Black Belt. We accomplished this for Clay Micheau by allowing Clay to be a signer on Sam's Black Belt certificate. This would help Clay become an officially recognized and qualified instructor recognized to award rank in Shaolin Kenpo.

Resolve and Attitude

Today, my Son and I and several of our Black Belts continue to be both student's and teacher's. Our personal education in Martial Arts continues to expand. We are active and blessed, being able to train with some of the top Self Defense Teachers and programs offered today, both Nationally and Internationally.

The Family at Pacific Shaolin Kenpo believe everyone has something to offer. We remain open to listen to what others have to offer and teach. We may know some things but are open to learn from everyone. Our attitude is one of openness and humility.

Other Schools of Thought

Unfortunately, in Washington State, not all who claim Rank in ISKA are on the Family Tree. These are not recognized but still claim they are. Equally as unfortunate are those who believe their story and accept their lies. These who wrongfully claim Rank and Status under Ralph Castro have no documentation to back up their claims.

It's an honor to be recognized to hold High Ranking degrees in Shaolin Kenpo and be sanctioned to award Shaolin Kenpo Ranks. It's a shame that some will lie about their rank and status. If these would humble themselves and simply come forward, tell the truth and ask to be given another chance and a fresh start, they more than likely will be.

What is true is that the owner of Aberdeen Kenpo Karate was offered to join ISKA and be given the rank of 3rd degree also in 1995 but he declined. He based his argument and reason for declining as being promoted behind John Kraft, which he could not bear. It is true that Michael Skinner Sr. was one of John Kraft's instructors and helped John get to his Black Belt. It's true that Mike Skinner Sr. was a signer on John Kraft's 1st Degree Certificate.

It's also true that Mike Skinner Sr. was not recognized or given approval by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro to award the Rank of Black Belt.

Mike Skinner Sr cannot take credit for promoting John Kraft to his 1st Degree Black Belt and John Kraft would be in violation of International Shaolin Kenpo Association rules by saying Mike Skinner Sr. had awarded him the rank.

Under the rules of the International Shaolin Kenpo Association, Maria Warwick was the only recognized Black Belt in Washington State in 1993 that could promote and award to the rank of 1st degree at John Kraft's 1st Degree Black belt promotion. That list expanded to include Adam Lin, Sue Jacobus-Messenger and John Kraft in 1995.

The issue causing the 'Rift' at the time was the 3 stripes Mike Skinner Sr. was wearing on his Black Belt in 1993. For whatever the reasons, he was wearing an unrecognized Rank. This embarrassment created a rift in our two schools.

Letting Things Go

My family and I have let the past go many years ago, but these men have not. A 30-year grudge continues to follow the Kraft family that we were unaware of until recently. Ironically, the fault lies on the side of those who created the rift. They would rather blame others than face their own shortcomings. We are now learning this lie has been filtering through the Washington State Martial Arts community since 1993.

To this day they claim high Ranks in Ralph Castros Shaolin Kenpo but we are waiting to see if and when they show up on the Shaolin Kenpo Family Tree. That decision is not in the hands of John Kraft or the Kraft family. Only Great Grandmaster Rob Castro can decide where the Skinner family will be placed on the International Shaolin Kenpo Association Family Tree, if at all.

~Using Respect always leads to Gain. But Dis-Respect always leads to Loss ~ John Kraft

John Kraft, Titles:
  • Northwest Representative to ‘The International Shaolin Kenpo Association’. Given to John by his Instructor, Ralph Castro. 2016
  • Sifu, or teacher.

It is an extraordinary Honor and taken seriously. I'm grateful to my teacher, Ralph Castro for the many good things he did for myself and my family. Our relationship grew and we eventually became dear ‘Friends’.

I treasure the time GGM shared with my Family and I on our visits to his home, his Seminars, and countless hours on phone conversations, he the teacher, I the student.

Loyal students of PSK continue to keep his legacy of Shaolin Kenpo alive by being involved and growing. Loyalty is everything in this world and our students deserve so much credit. Tried by Fire, many now have families of their own with children representing 2 and 3 generations of families in Washington State loyal to the Shaolin Kenpo family.

Our 'bow of Respect' to the High Ranking Black Belts in our style who remain Honest, and Loyal to our code. Gratitude to the Greater Martial Arts Community for your continued support and friendship.

Click the image to see full size.

Pacific Northwest Official Shaolin Kenpo (NOW)

About John Kraft

John Kraft is a student of Legendary Bay area Martial Arts Pioneer Ralph Castro. He is currently a 4th Degree Black Belt. At Ralph Castro's passing in 2019, John became a student of his son Rob Castro. .


  • 1970, 11th grade, began Tae-Kwon do, Bryan, Texas.
  • 1978, Began in Ralph Castro's Kenpo Karate, Aberdeen, Wa.
  • 1993, Awarded 1st Degree Black Belt Kenpo Karate by Maria Warwick.
  • 1993, Co-founded Pacific Shaolin Kenpo with partner Sue Messenger.
  • 1994, Accepted as a student of Professor Ralph Castro.
  • 1994, Pacific Shaolin Kenpo Accepted into the International Shaolin Kenpo Association.
  • 1994, promoted to 3rd Degree Black Belt.
  • 1990 thru 1998, Sport Competition Years.
  • 1995, Presidential Sports Award.
  • Became 'NBL' Center Referee.
  • 1995 and 1996, Earned invitations to the Super Grands, Nationals and World Championships.
  • 1996, Tied 2 Current World Champions in regular time, Lost in overtime.
  • 1996, 1997, Ranked #4 by Sport Karate International 'SKI' in the Pacific Northwest Region.
  • 2015, Awarded Northwest Representative to The International Shaolin Kenpo Association,’ ISKA’, by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro.
  • 2015, 16, 17, 18, Attended Masters Training Seminars in San Francisco.
  • 2016, Awarded a 4th Degree Black Belt.
  • 2018, Attended GGM Ralph and Pat Castro's 65th Wedding Anniversary.
  • 2019, Memorial for Ralph Castro. 1 of 3 families invited to the Castro family private Memorial.
  • 2021, Founded The 'Northwest Shaolin Kenpo Association' as a legally register ‘non-profit’ in Washington State.
  • 2021, Northwest Shaolin Kenpo Association, or 'NWSKA'. Moved forward with new strategies to reach local, National and International community to bring healthy and positive change.
  • 2022, With 'Unity' as a goal, and the help of our International Partners, we have achieved some success bringing Branches of Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian and American Arts towards a new beginning and with connections under One Tree. Rebuilding our tree and finding our roots from the past has led to a new awareness that we are all Family.
  • 2023, The Shaolin Kenpo Family tree is currently being updated, bringing many broken branches into focus as 1 tree. Those without a home can now find one. Under the guidance and direction of GGM Rob Castro, and a hard working group of Professionals, a fresh breath is now with the Shaolin Kenpo Family. The Old is meeting the New. How exciting as we rebuild together for a bright new future in the upcoming 2023/2024.

John's journey in martial arts began in High School in 1970 in the ‘Karate Club’ at Allen Military Academy in Bryan, Texas as a student of Tae-Kwon-do. Later, in 1978, he was introduced to Ralph Castro’s Kenpo Karate and became a student of Maria Warwick at Aberdeen Kenpo Karate, Aberdeen, Wa. John began teaching in the 80’s and began his Competition Years in 1990.

In 1993, the Kraft and Messenger Families opened Pacific Shaolin Kenpo in Aberdeen, Wa. At that time, Ralph Castro became John’s primary Instructor.

John believes his greatest accomplishments were the many friends and students gained from these years. Helping a student make it to a Black Belt legitimately is not an easy job, years of training and dedication are required by both the student and the teacher.

Some of John’s accomplishments were being Ranked #4 in the Pacific Northwest Region by Sport Karate International, ‘NBL' and ‘ISKA’ , in Point Fighting in 1996 and 1997. That Region included; Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia and a portion of Montana.

A highlight in October of 1996 was getting into the Ring with 2 Current World Champions: 3 time World Champion, Mark Hicks, tying in regular time 1 to 1, only to lose in overtime with a final score of 2-1 and Getting into the Ring with current 5 time World Champion Bill Hunter, tying in regular time, losing in overtime.

John's take on the matches; " These were great athletes, great fighters and veterans of the fight game. It was an experience I will never forget. I gained the skills to step into a ring with a Champions and I lost to the very Best".

John earned a Presidential Sports award in 1995, and earning Invitations to 2 Super Grand Nationals and World Championships in the years 1996 and 1997. Many Students of Pacific Shaolin Kenpo won Top Awards at Local and Nationally Rated Competitions.

What is Shaolin Kenpo?

Shaolin Kenpo Karate is a Traditional Art, meaning it has Deep Roots in the past, going back to the Shaolin Temples in China in the 1300’s and has a rich history with 22 Generations of Great Grandmasters in the Japanese Temples in Kenpo/Kempo in Japan. The Chinese and Japanese arts were blended in Hawaii, and through this blending, the students of these Chinese, Japanese and Hawaiian Masters traveled to all almost every country in the world including the USA. Shaolin Kenpo is a Progressive Art, meaning it adapts and changes to the current times, and it is continuously growing.

Ralph Castro's Shaolin Kenpo Family Tree

Rank is Sanctioned by
The International Shaolin Kenpo Association (ISKA)

Click here for ISKA Tree

Ralph Castro

Maria Warwick

John Kraft

John Kraft's Black Belt Awards

  • Jennie Kraft, 1996.

    2nd degree, 2017.

  • *Ben Galeana, 1996

  • Cindy Kraft, 1996

  • *Bob Alexander, 1996

  • Gabe Jacobus, 1998

  • Tom Mull, 1998

  • Ralph Delaney, 1999

  • Jason Bodey, 1999

  • Brandon Bodey, 1999

  • * Sam Kraft, 2015

    2nd degree, 2017

  • Dominic Keesler, Sept, 2020
  • Jeremiah Jones, Dec 2020

  • Scott Morrow, Dec, 2020

*Sam Kraft’s 1st degree was shared with Clay Micheau, as a co-signer to help Clay gain his 3rd degree.
*Clay Micheau received his 4th degree by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro at the request of John Kraft.
*Bob Alexander, promoted to 2nd degree by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro at the request of John Kraft.
*Ben Galeana, promoted to 4th degree by Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro at the request of John Kraft.

Title: Great Grandmaster Rob Castro

Rob Castro’s training in martial Arts began at the age of 5, under his father Great Grandmaster Ralph Castro, the Creator of Shaolin Kenpo and Founder of the International Shaolin Kenpo Association.

Rob trained alongside his siblings Rafael “Boss” Castro, and 5 sisters; April, May, June, July and Mia. The Children advanced together, each has achieved very impressive accomplishments in Martial Arts. In their competition years, they were known as “Ralph Castro’s Magnificent 7” (Rob, ‘Boss’, April, May, June, July and Mia Castro).

Rob Castro’s story would be incomplete without including his Brother and Sisters. They have spent a lifetime in service to the
community, specializing in their fields. Each
of the ‘Magnificent 7’ have proven themselves to be involved in educating and improving the local community as team players.

There have been many Bruce Lee moments for Rob and his family. In 1964, one of the 1st International Karate Championships were held in Long Beach, California, This tournament was made famous when Bruce Lee demonstrated his 1 and 3 inch punch on a young Joe Lewis. Already a veteran at 8 years old, Rob performed an advanced form called ‘Galloping Horse’, a dance his father created. This can be viewed on ‘Northwest Shaolin Kenpo Association Youtube channel’.

Tom Bleecker, co-author of ‘DRAGON, the Bruce Lee Story’ mentions Rob ‘as an 8 year old bringing the crowd to its feet with resounding applaud. Paraphrased and shared with full permission by Mr. Bleecker.

Rob is Kind, Easily approachable, and loves to teach, sharing his knowledge and experience. At his Fathers passing in 2019, Rob Castro assumed the role of Head of the Shaolin Kenpo Family. To schedule a Seminar with Rob, contact John Kraft at 360-470-2208 or leave a note on our comments.

Tribute to the Warwick Family

Known and loved by many in California and Washington State. A Pioneer in Martial Arts, an example of how Women could also become Leaders in the Martial Arts Community. She was tough, strong and respected as a teacher. Rick and Maria Warwick established the first Kenpo Karate School in Aberdeen, Wa. in 1969. The school Aberdeen Kenpo Karate (1969 - 1983) produced many competent Black Belts, some have become World Champions.