Michael Branden1942 - 2007
Founder of American Kenpo Kombat Karate
Grand Master Branden was born to a Chinese mother and an American Chinese father on May 12, 1942 in a small town outside of Baltimore, Maryland. He was always small for his age and picked on by other kids. His father started teaching him the art of defending himself at the age of 5. It soon became apparent that young Michael had an aptitude toward the martial arts, and his parents enrolled him in a local school.
By the age of 10, he had received his first Black Belt. His parents encouraged him to continue to train in the martial arts where he excelled in Tae Kwon Do, Gung Fu, Wing Chun, and of course his biggest love, Kempo. By the time he was 17, he had earned his Third Degree Black Belt in Kempo, competed in several tournaments, and had started to teach at a school in the gang ridden area of Baltimore. One year later, he decided to join the military where he trained further and found, in his opinion, soldiers needed to know other ways of defending themselves in hand to hand combat. After serving three years in the military, he returned to Baltimore where he met a man who worked for the FBI. This man invited Master Branden to train with him in Defensive Tactics. The plan worked well for both parties, and before long he found himself assisting in teaching others employed by the government.
Throughout his adult life, he continued to train and develop the art of "Kombat Kempo." He became a well respected Champion in Forms. For the next thirty years, he continued training the youth of Maryland, Virginia and the D.C. area. He worked closely with law enforcement both on the local and federal level. Grand Master Branden had won the respect of many. At the age of 54, he learned he had bone cancer. Telling very few people, he kept this health issue very quiet and did not want people to know. The following year brought great sorrow when his parents were killed in a multiple vehicle accident. Never having married, he turned deeper into his training. Grand Master Branden developed some "one touch" defense techniques still used by special forces today. By the time he was 58, his health was starting to deteriorate and he narrowed his number of direct students down to about 25. In 2004, he was able to achieve his goal of going to China to train. He spent 2 years in China, returning as a 9th. Duan. Grand Master Branden always said,"It is time to go back to tradition.......". He had those that objected to change however, and he decided not to push it at that time. When asked what his greatest wish was, he would always reply, "First, to provide a future for our youth, and second, I want to train in China".
Sadly, Grand Master Branden lost his battle with cancer October 15, 2007. At the time of his death, he had 19 students directly responsible to him, and had received multiple honors locally. Master Branden was head of a Board of Directors to an organization responsible for furthering the Chinese Styles of Martial Arts,(AKKK) with multiple school memberships throughout the east coast and mid-west. That responsibility was delegated to our Shifu James K. Mattocks, per Grand Master's request. The AKKK organization and its' affiliates are proud to continue the legacy of Grand Master Branden, and in honor of his death have voted to make some of the changes he requested.
We will miss you Grand Master.