Sigung Karen Sheperd
Sigung Karen Sheperd
Miscellaneous Information:

Sigung Karen Sheperd WHKD Rank: 7TH. Degree Serial #: 4-1978-021-A-AI Other Martial Arts Training: School Locations: Los Angeles, CA Website: Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Biography: Popularly known as the “THE KARATE DIVA”, Karen Sheperd was the first American woman and true Martial Arts Champion to star in a martial arts film. She was the first woman ever to be officially rated #1 in Forms competition, a rating she fought to establish for female martial arts Forms competitors when none existed and there was only one ratings system at the time. She was the only woman to achieve a rating (3rd) among the top ten National Black Belt Forms/Kata competitors. Sheperd was the reining Queen of Forms competition for 2 years, 1979 & 1980, before retiring halfway through the 1981 season to answer the call from Hollywood. Karen’s achievements in the martial arts led her to travel the world, work in many movies, television shows and theatrical productions and become an inspiration and role-model for martial artists worldwide. Karen respectfully credits her successes to her incredible instructors, Al Dacascos and Malia Bernal. Karen Sheperd became determined to be a Forms champion after watching Eric Lee “The King of Kata” perform in San Francisco in the mid 70’s. Inspired by his dynamic style and ability, Sheperd went to Colorado to study with Al Dacascos and became the Forms protégé of Melia Bernal who helped Karen realize her dreams of becoming the #1 female Forms Champion in the United States. Karen Sheperd is one of the few female members of the most elite martial arts group: the Black Belt Hall of Fame. She also received an unprecedented number of international votes to be inducted into the Martial Arts Museum Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the Action Martial Arts Magazine Hall of Fame, the Golden State Karate Association Hall of Fame, the World Martial Arts Masters Association Hall of Fame and Sheperd received the World Karate Confederation of Spain’s Golden Medal of Honor. Sheperd was named alongside Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris as one of the “Top 10 Martial Arts Movie Stars” in Black Belt Magazine. She was voted “The Most Popular Female Martial Arts Superstar” by readers of Inside Kung Fu Magazine. Achieving another “first”, Karen Sheperd became the first woman to become Grand National Champion of the U.S. Open “Battle of the Superstars” martial arts competition in St. Petersburg, Florida. A win so unprecedented, it was featured on national television news reports and magazine-format shows which led to an offer to star in a Japanese film, The Shinobi Ninja (with Eric Lee). Sheperd became the first American woman to star in a martial arts film. Karen was “bitten by the acting bug and immersed herself in acting studies in Los Angeles. Because of Karen’s skill with the sword, she was chosen to star as Red Sonja on stage at Universal Studios in “The Adventures of Conan” where she performed in over 3000 shows. Karen began landing lead roles in numerous action films which took her around the globe: Righting Wrongs in Hong Kong, Blood Chase in the Philippines, Eliminator Woman in Africa and America 3000 in Israel. Her domestic films include Cyborg 2 (with Angelina Jolie), Markus 4, Soul of the Avenger (with Nancy Kwan and James Lew), Boogie Boy (with Mark Dacascos), and Mission of Justice (with Brigitte Nielson). A fan of martial arts films, producer Rob Tapert took notice of Karen and offered her a guest-starring role on his hit television series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. She was off to New Zealand to guest star in a few episodes opposite Kevin Sorbo as “The Enforcer”. “The Enforcer” received the highest ratings ever for the entire series. Sheperd has also worked as a stunt-performer and choreographer for hundreds of fights and acted in numerous television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Eliza Dushku, Angel with David Boreanaz, Walker, Texas Ranger with Chuck Norris, V.I.P. with Pamela Anderson and Boston Legal with James Spader and Candice Bergen…to name a few. Karen has also worked with Madonna a few times, most notably performing as “the Madonna in black” on the “Die Another Day” video. Karen Sheperd currently loves theatre acting, having recently starred on stage and receiving rave reviews for her lead roles in “In the Boom Boom, a play by David Rabe and “Summer and Smoke” by Tennessee Williams. Sheperd also travels the seminar circuit, sharing her knowledge and experiences, helping to inspire and motivate martial artists to follow their dreams. Besides acting and teaching, Sheperd has also established another “first”… the Martial Arts Players Directory. The Martial Arts Players Directory ( is the most respected registry of talented martial artists for casting directors in the entertainment industry. After having done it “the hard way”, Sheperd was inspired to help make it easier and more affordable for talented martial artists to have instant exposure and publicity to the top casting directors for film television, theatre and special events. Karen says, “my martial arts were always my inspiration in everything I do. They helped me maintain my drive for success and gave me the discipline to follow my heart toward achieving my goals”.