I’m not the Best, but I’m honored to be among the Best

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 who is now the successor and Head of the International Shaolin Kenpo Association and family.


  • 1970, 11th grade, began Tae-Kwon do at the ~ Allen ‘Honor’ Military Academy ~, Bryan, College Station, 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.
  • 2022, UGMAA, Grandmasters and Masters in 15 styles come together to share their skills and teach young and old, beginners and advanced, and to learn from one another.
  • 2023, Instrumental in working with Great Grandmaster Rob Castro, Head of the International Shaolin Kenpo Association to Update and the Family Tree and website, 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 as we move forward.
  • 2023, March. John Assists his instructor, Rob Castro in Boston, Ma. at SGM Paul Cervizzi’s Martial Arts Extravaganza.
  • 2023, April. UGMAA, John Assists his instructor Rob Castro as a featured instructor in Salt lake City.
  • 2023, April. UGMAA, John’s is a featured instructor and teaches his first time on a National Level. Thank you to GM Samuel Lee Ellis for hosting this event.
  • 2023, June, Masters of the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City; Sifu John Kraft.
  • 2023, Networking with Grandmasters and Masters with Plans to build and bring back the Castro Family ‘California Karate Championships’, aka, the ‘CKC’.
  • 2023, Sept, Inclusion into the Book Who’s Who in Martial Arts , award by GM Jessie Bowen and GM Cynthia Rothrock, ‘Queen of Martial Arts’.
  • How exciting as we Build together for a bright new future in the upcoming 2023/2024.

John’s Journey in Martial Arts

John’s Journey began in High School in 1970 in the ‘Karate Club’ at the Allen Military Academy in Bryan, Texas, being 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 learning how to teach in the 80’s and began his Competition Years in 1990.

In 1993, the Kraft and Messenger Families opened Pacific Shaolin Kenpo in Aberdeen, Washington. 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.

John feels Blessed that his family and both Children, son Sam and daughter Jenny were involved with this sport as they were growing up and is proud of their accomplishments both then and now. They were instrumental in every aspect of our schools development and overall success.

“I can not say I was the Best, but I can say I tried my Best and had fun doing it. I loved everything I learned from being in the ring, and learned more from my losses than the wins, each loss becoming a stepping stone to future wins”.

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 came in October of 1996 when my name was called to step 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 competition and 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 Champions”.

John earned a Presidential Sports award in 1995, and through competition, Earned Invitations to 2 Super Grand Nationals and World Championships in the years 1996 and 1997.

Many Students of Pacific Shaolin Kenpo also won Top Awards at Local and Nationally Rated Competitions.

“I am so proud of each of these students who were brave enough to step into that ring”.

For more memorabilia, please see page 2