Janet Walgren is the second oldest of ten children. Janet began studying cosmetology at age sixteen, attending beauty school in the summer, at night and on the weekends, while she attended high school. She graduated from Aladdin Beauty College in April 1965 and was hired as a high-fashion stylist in one of Kansas City’s most exclusive beauty salons, which catered to Playboy Bunnies and showgirls. Six months later Janet was recruited to be a lead stylist for The Jone’s Store Company, a large upscale department store in Kansas City, MO.

While riding the bus home after work late one night, Janet had a very harrowing experience that created an urgent desire to learn self-defense. She signed up for judo lessons at Bushidokan. Not long after she started taking judo lessons, Janet’s sensei, Jim Harrison, asked if she would be willing to do a woman’s self-defense demonstration for an event featuring the Korean National Olympic Yudo Team. Being an adventurous woman, she said, “YES!” After the event, Walgren continued to do women’s self-defense demonstrations for business and civic groups, to promote the martial arts.

Nine months after she started taking judo lessons, Janet was invited to do a women’s self-defense demonstration at the All American Karate Tournament in Ft. Worth, TX. At this point, Janet had never taken a karate lesson. When she arrived in Texas, Walgren found out that her sensei had signed her up to compete in the tournament where she placed second starting her career as a karate competitor. (see martial arts photos)

In 1975, Janet was named in the first Who’s Who in the Martial Arts along with other karate greats like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris. Following is an excerpt from the entry about her:

Although she competed in Karate tournaments before there were ratings for women and retired from competition in 1970, Janet has been mentioned in every retroactive Top Ten poll published since then. Winning or placing in every tournament she entered, she was the 1966 All-American runner-up. 1967 U.S. Championships finalist when disqualified excessive contact. 1968 Central States Champion. 1968 U.S.K.A. National Champion. 1968 Grand National runner-up, and she returned to the U.S. Championships – 68 and won it. In 1969 she again won the U.S.K.A. National Championships, the 1969 National Open Championships and was named the “Best Woman’s National Tournament Champion” in women’s sparring by the U.S.K.A… In 1968 she staged a demonstration at the World Fair “Hemisfair” in San Antonio, Texas and received the Worlds Fair Award for “Outstanding Achievement” by a woman in the martial arts.

Who’s Who in the Martial Arts.
Robert Wall. 1975. p. 50-51

In 1975, Janet decided to take flying on a dare. One of her associates started flying lessons and it took him almost one year to solo. Janet didn’t think that flying would be all that difficult so she marched into a flight school and announced, “I don’t care if I’m ever a pilot, but I want to solo in less than ten hours, in less than one week! Can you do it?” The flight instructor responded, “Well, that depends on you!” Five days and seven hours later, Janet had soloed and continued on to earn her Private Pilot’s Certificate in a little over sixty hours. She later took aerobatic lessons and managed Jonas Aviation, a fixed-base operation and flight school at Gardner Kansas Airport. (see pilot photos)

Janet first became a mother in 1972 then continued on to have six children. When Janet’s youngest child entered Kindergarten, Janet enrolled in college and in 1992, earned her Associate’s of Arts degree fromSpokane Falls Community College. When Janet’s oldest daughter earned her Associate’s of Arts Degree in 1996, Janet walked the stage again to receive her Bachelor’s of Arts degree from Eastern Washington University majoring in Government with a pre-law emphasis.

Janet is the owner of Walgren Enterprises and works as a writer, ghost writer, consultant and personal coach. Janet’s interests include blogging, writing,  photography, art, classical music, books, nature, and playing with her children and twelve grandchildren.

At heart I believe very deeply in old fashion traditional family values and gender roles. Having lived in both the feminist’s dream paradigm (not by choice or design) and as a stay at home mom and homemaker I can truly say that a six foot trophy, red carpet treatment, and public accolades can in no way compete with the simple words, “I wuv woo mommy!” or “Gwama woo is so boo-tee-full to me!”

I lived a necessity to its fullest. Everyone should do the same. I encourage everyone to bloom where they are planted. Make the most of your lives! But know this, if you have a choice, be a man or a woman the way God intended you to be. Live for your family, for your marriage and remember what work is for. Motherhood IS a career! Attend to each other; love each other and you will be more fulfilled, more intelligent, more satisfied and happier than you could ever dream possible.

42 Responses to About

  1. Kathy Sullivan says:

    Hi Janet,
    I came upon your site quite unexpectedly and thought I would say hi from your old martial arts days. I think we met briefly in 1969 at the USKA Nationals in Kansas City. I was an up and coming competitor just as you were winding down your competitive career. My sensei was Mel Wise and he used to tell me all kinds of stories about how great a competitor you were. I heard lots of stories. You and I were among the first “Trias International” women other than Trias’s daughter of course. Sounds like you’ve done alot with your life. I’m a child psychologist now, I still work out and still have connections in the Martial Arts arena. Anyway just wanted to say hi and send my best to a fellow martial artist who shared some history with me. Email me if you want. Yours in Karate-do Kathy Sullivan

  2. Hi Kathy,
    What a nice surprise. I do remember meeting you and I am aware of your accomplishments although you came after my time. My era spanned from 1965 until my divorce from Jim Harrison in 1976. However, I quit competition in 1970 to start a family.

    I am in the process of writing my life history. If you know anyone who has photos, news clippings, magazine articles, or home movies of me and my demonstrations or competitions, I would be very interested in having them contact me.

    I will email you. Let’s keep in touch.


  3. Steve Doss says:


    I saw this link with your name and wanted to say hello. I was probably around 9 or 10 years old when I met you at Jim Harrison’s school or house in Overland Park, Kansas. One of my best childhood friends was Dirk, Mr. Harrison’s oldest son. We hung out together a lot then.

    I clearly remember my friends and I secretly thinking that you were, and calling you “The prettiest and coolest woman in the world.” For real! Didn’t you have a little sports car for a while too. Being pretty, with Jim Harrison, and being able to fight so good – I remember we thought you were right out of a James Bond movie! You definitely made a big impression on me and I never forgot your name.

    It sounds like your life has been great, and I’m very happy for you. It was during those years with Jim Harrison that I got hooked on the martial arts and I have never turned back. I live in Austin, TX now and teach martial arts (http://www.pmaaustin.com).

    I wish I had some old pictures or articles of you that I could give you, I do still have those memories though of “The Prettiest and Coolest Lady in the World!!”

    Hope to meet you again someday,

    Steve Doss

  4. Hi Steve,

    Wow! I’m speechless. What a nice complement to receive. You just made my day.

    I did have a 67Firebird convertible for a while. That’s probably what made me cool, Right?

    Anyway, if you ever do run across photos or magazine articles I would love to get copies of them for my personal history. I would love to meet you. If you ever come my way look me up.


  5. Jerry Yost says:

    Hi Janet –
    I was a student of Jim’s during the mid 60’s when I was in junior high school. I recall training with you in classes. Dirk was about my age, and had a younger brother “Boots”. My memories of working with you are still quite clear, you were really good! During my time at the school I went to numerous tournaments and did very well, I had one of those black tiger bands on my pant legs, remember those? I live in San Antonio now and have been here about 27 years.


  6. Hi Jerry,

    I do remember you. You were just a little older than Dirk and quite the fighter. What a small world it is. Are you still practicing the martial arts? If so you must be pretty good now.

    I love Texas. I fought my first tournament in Fort Worth in 1966 after having only one karate lesson in the hotel room the night before the tournament. I took second place in the All American Karate Championships and all I knew how to do was a back kick. I used to do a lot of women’s self-defense demonstrations down there. I did a demonstration in San Antonio for the 1968 World Fair and have fond memories of that city.

    A while back I found a funny clip on YouTube about a Texas car wreck where some little old ladies beat the pudding out of a man who ran into them. The description sounded like a narration of one of my demonstrations and I’m wondering if the old women saw one of them. Anyway, thanks for saying hi and bringing back some fun memories.

  7. marlajayne says:

    Wow! I’m not sure who said this, but here’s a quote that seems to describe your life: “Life’s too short to be little.” What’s next?

  8. This year i’m writing three books – one on my life, one for work, and a fairy tale book for adults and children. I am also planning on taking some more college classes now that my daughter has graduated. I am starting a business with my daughter that will require me to know the current graphic design software applications. I tutored in an advanced graphic design computer lab while in college but couldn’t keep up with the software and everything else after I graduated.

    In a few more years, I plan on going on a mission and perhaps going somewhere in Asia to teach English for a year. Eventually I will retire and enjoy huggies, tickles and tuck-ins with my grandchildren and hope to die happy when it’s time.

    My favorite quote along this line is:

    “Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, thoroghly used up, totally worn out and loudly proclaiming, wow what a ride!” ~Peter Sage

  9. marlajayne says:

    I feel dizzy just reading your plans for 2008! Until reading this post, I mistakenly thought I was a busy gal, but now….well, I’m not so sure. I plan to write every day, but I’ve realized that I need to focus more on books and articles and less on blogging. It’s extremely time consuming (and fun!), but it doesn’t help me get a website going or a book written. I keep saying that after I retire, I will do this and that, but I need to focus more on NOW.

    I admire you for your mission goals and the Asia teaching plan. I think it’s so important to have something out in front of us to hope for and aspire to.

  10. methodistchick says:


    Thank you for visiting my new blog and commenting on Memorial Day and the link we have with the Methodist Church downtown. It was such a pleasure to read more about you here. What a wonderful perspective you have on the world!


  11. coolkid says:


    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. I enjoy reading your blog too.

    Good luck and have fun!

    Yiwen “Wendy” Yao

  12. Wendy, Welcome to my blog. I’m glad that I found your blog and will follow it. Thanks for dropping by.

  13. AlexM says:

    I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you down the road!

  14. Alex, Welcome to my blog and thanks for leaving a comment. I hope you enjoy my posts. Thanks for subscribing

  15. Denise Holcroft says:

    Hi Janet,

    It’s been quite a number of years since I’ve seen you. How are Kris and Kelly? It’s been a number of years since I’ve seen them as well. Actually since Grandpa Harrison passed away I believe. Anyway, I stumbled onto your site and thought I would say hello. 🙂

  16. Denise Holcroft says:

    Oh Jezz, I just realized I spelled Keli’s name wrong. Sorry! I’m quite sure you remember me. I would be hard to forget, I would think. I dated Dirk for a little over 5 years.

  17. Hi Denise,

    Yes I do remember you. How are you doing?

    Kris is doing well. He is a professional diver and is living in Egypt now. Keli is also doing well.

  18. Denise Holcroft says:

    How wonderful for Kris! I just had an acquaintance return from Egypt and bring back some wonderful oils (which I was lucky enough to acquire). What is Keli up to?

    I’m doing quite well. I have three children, two boys and a girl. My eldest son is 20 years old and is taking college courses while holding down a full time job. My 17 year old son just got back from a summer in Europe (France, Belgium, & the UK) and is now a senior in high school working on a scholarship towards college. My 14 year old daughter is also in high school, is on the drill team and dances at the Kansas City Ballet. She’s been a dancer since she was 3, dances 3 hours every evening after school and on Saturdays, so she’s fairly dedicated.

    I haven’t changed much. I sculpt, and throw pottery, as well as many other artistic endeavors. I enjoy making my own incense, herbal ointments and things of that nature, and well as gardening. I’m learning to speak Chinese. I work for a Chinese family that I have known for 23 years, so I find it beneficial. 🙂

  19. Wow! Congratulations Denise. I am impressed and happy for you. It sounds like you have been amply blessed. Raising good children is a great accomplishment and getting them through college is quite the challenge. Best wishes on the scholarship.

  20. ruban says:

    Hi Janet
    Glad to meet u thru this mail . i saw ur comments about the pics taken from seepalakottai posted by Archana raghuram, india and u have shown ur interest in visiting the places . We are from the place doing ministry over there and we would like to give more inputs on the place if you are interested .
    God bless you

  21. Kathy Sullivan says:

    Hi Janet,
    Happy New Year and I hope you are well. Email me if you would – I have something I’d like to discuss with you.


  22. Hi Kathy,

    I emailed you and would love to hear from you.

    For anyone else who would like to contact me, my email is janetwalgren@yahoo.com and I am also on facebook and twitter if you would like to join me there. Make sure to add a meaningful subject line in any email or facebook request so you don’t get deleted with my spam (I get a lot of it).


  23. Kathy Parker says:

    My memories of you were from 1973 to 1978. That was many years ago along with many life changes.

  24. TheTraveller001 says:

    As fellow female martial artist it is awesome to see your accomplishments. Can’t help but wonder, what’s next for you?

  25. Hi Traveller,

    I am working on a book about my life and the martial arts. It’s amusing that I googled my name last week and found that I was mentioned as the #4 and #6 all time best woman fighter. (Apparently the author didn’t know that I was Janet Walgren and Janet Harrison.) Another person tagged my photo as the transformation of Phyllis Evetts. (Apparently they didn’t know that I bleached my hair sometimes.)

    I will also be putting up a website with a shopping cart to sell some autographed martial arts photos and other memorabilia.

    My son, Keli is building a dojo, gym and climbing wall on my property and will be teaching the martial arts and do personal training to support his family while he finishes his engineering degree so I expect that I will do some workouts that are appropriate for a 63 year old. Mostly, I expect to have fun watching my grandchildren learn the art.

  26. TheTraveller001 says:

    You are an inspiration to all of us! Loved your story about the “confusion”. They do that on the web quite a bit — funny though 🙂 Congratulations to Keli for taking on such a wonderful endaveour on teaching the Art while working on his engineering degree. Well, if you decide on attending workouts, send some pic’s — would absolutely love it! We’ll be keeping a look out for web site with your autographed photos, etc. Really looking forward to it. Really love to have one, especially for our young girls attending classes!

  27. Gale Tupa says:

    great insight and very nice website how long did it take you building your blog? 🙂 i like what you done here …visit mine if you would like to 🙂

  28. Ana (Mma Pound for Pound) says:

    Really new to this thing, still learning about this sport. This is a excellent thing that my friend recommended to me, I never getting involved with it but soon will be Thanks! 🙂

  29. Geeta says:


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  31. Harlan S says:

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  32. Hello and thank you all for your comments. For several months now, I have been very busy remodeling my new house and job hunting. Both have their challenges and rewards. I do appreciate your comments and continued support.

    I have been busy writing a book about my life and particularly about the martial arts which will hopefully be ready for the publisher by the end of April. If you have photos of me, I would appreciate getting them.

    Also, if you have an area of particular interest that you would like me to include or focus on in my book, please let me know.

  33. Mark Zipf says:

    It has been a long time!! Do you remember Ranch Mart and Mission. My brother John and I worked with Jim for a few years. You would come by every once and a while. Remember Chuck Northcott and Kay?

  34. Ralph Barrale says:

    Hi Janet,
    My name is Ralph Barrale. Back in the 60’s my brother Bob and I were martial artists in St . Louis with Jim Harrison, Bob Yarnall, Ike Slaughter, Parker Shelton and all the greats from that era. I have a newspaper photo from, I think, the opening week or so of the KC dojo. My brother and I, Jim Harrison, Jim Lindell, Ike Slaughter and Earl Carver are in the photo kneeling on the mat as Dirk and Sean are demonstrating a throw. I would be happy to send you a scanned copy if you would like it.

    Glad to see you are doing well.

    All best wishes,

    Ralph Barrale

  35. Janet Walgren says:

    Hi Mark,

    I do remember you and John although I wouldn’t recognize you 30+ years later. I also remember Chuch and Kay Northcott. They were awesome people and good friends. Unfortunately I lost track of everyone when I moved to Utah many years ago. I would love to reconnect and receive updates. Did you continue in the martial arts? What are you doing now?

    Anyway it’s good to hear from you. Take care.

  36. Janet Walgren says:

    Hi Ralph,

    I started at Bushidokan in September of 1965 and know most of the men you mentioned who were in the photo. I would love to have a scanned copy of the photo and any others you might have.

    Did you have any journals entries or memoirs about your early training in St. Louis? If so, I would love to get a copy if you wouldn’t mind sharing.

    I am writing a book about the martial arts and my experience breaking in to the man’s world as an early woman martial arts pioneer. I’m sure that your input would be a rich addition.

    I’ll email you my contact information.

    Thanks 🙂

  37. Janet: I’d like to contact you in re Trias International Society business. Please write to me at michael.izatt@alum.mit.edu at best speed. Thank you. Izatt.

  38. I like the article so much.And I have had and good idea by reading that.Thx 4 sharing Hey I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading your blog. You have good views, Keep up the good informative info Smile Just a quick question though. Are you making enough money from blogging? The above writing was great. I find it very interesting and I’ll surely forward this to my pals online. Anyway, many thanks for sharing this.

  39. benyego says:

    Hi Janet, this is Ventura Garcia one of Sensei Wise students, would love to see old pics from your competition days. http://www.facebook.com/benyego

  40. Find America says:

    This is so cool. I never thought I would find any information on the internet about my old friend Mel Wise. I was just a little kid and he was a friend of my Dad’s. He used to teach me Karate and he showed me how discipline works and to never give up. I learned to do the “Chinese” splits because I saw him do it at an outdoor gathering/party that he and my folks went to. I happened to be there too. Mel was showing me technique and my Dad told me, “When you can do the splits like Mel can, I will buy you a Karate gee. I learned it in short order. Being around Mel was like some kind of movie star. I always admired him. I have some funny stories about Mel from my childhood. He was truly a GRAND CHAMPION and a GRAND MAN. I still miss him. I was only about 11 or 12 when he passed. I got to see him in Miami after his diagnoses and to this day I remember every minute of that time. I am 50 now. RIP Mel. You were one of a kind.

  41. Hmm it appears like your site ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips for newbie blog writers? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  42. Shae Luczki says:

    I simply want to mention I am just beginner to weblog and honestly savored your page. Probably I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You actually have impressive article content. Cheers for sharing your web-site.

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