Honoring Bobbi Snyder Sensei

Reflections by Kathy Hopwood

Bobbi started her martial arts training in the 1960's when she was in her early thirties. As a single mother of three children, she felt the need for a physical outlet.

 

Bobbi Snyder wanted to train in karate in Pittsburgh, PA. She had heard of a school and planned to check out their classes. I must remind you that even locating a martial arts school in the 1960's was quite a feat. Schools didn't advertise in the yellow pages - it was unusual to have a martial arts school anywhere. Bobbi went up the stairs to the door of the school to find a sign on it that stated:

 

  • NO SMOKING
  • NO DRINKING
  • NO WOMEN

Bobbi knocked REALLY LOUD on that door!

 

Her tournament career is legendary for the time - tournaments didn't often even have "women divisions" or women be allowed to enter tournaments. Between 1969, when she received her 1st Degree Black Belt from Master Robert Trias, USKA, and 1990, Bobbi officiated at over 50 tournaments.

 

Bobbi Synder was one of the first women to enter the very closed-to-women-doors of martial arts school. Wether you ever met Bobbi or not, we all have entered that door on her tailcoat.

 

Her Dedication to the Women's Martial Arts Community

 

A member of the National Women's Martial Arts Federation since the early 1980's, Bobbi was a persistent presence at numerous training camps and conferences throughout into the 1990's. She was an organizer of many camps and conferences, and a trainer at numerous others. Due to time constraints, ability, or whatever, few other NWMAF members could commit to organizing an ST camp in those days. So Bobbi did many of them. Of the few others who did put on an ST camp, organizing a future camp was unheard of. Bobbi kept organizing and organizing our ST camps.

 

Bobbi found NWMAF several ST camp locations, ones that we are still using today such as Hobart and William Smith -- in fact, at the time of this writing, we are planning our next ST camp at Hobart and William Smith! Before the NWMAF assumed the financial burden of Special Training (only 5 years ago in 2002), it was a personal financial undertaking to organize an ST camp. Some years there was seed money to kickstart the organization process, but everything was still done at the individual's own personal financial risk. Bobbi took this risk multiple times. If Bobbi hadn't done these camps, it's possible that they never would have been held.

 

Bobbi has also served on the NWMAF Board of Directors, which was then called The Steering Committee. She was the NWMAF Treasurer for four years, elected in 1985 and in 1988. When she first got the position, she was given a shoebox of some money and a few receipts -- a book keeping system had not been set up prior to this time so Bobbi did this along with the yearly audit and other tasks that our organization needed to stabilize and grow.

 

In 1985, Bobbi closed her karate school The Feminist Karate Union in Pittsburgh, PA (not to be confused with FKU in Seattle, WA) after 20 years of teaching. Despite closing her school,she continued to teach her multitude of Black Belts. Since 1987, Bobbi has been a member of the NWMAF Rank Certification Board. In 1995, she received the NWMAF Award of Excellence.

 

Camps and Conferences She Organized

  • 1985 Special Training Camp Host, along with Wendi Dragonfire & Cassandra George - ST'85 was held at Hobart and William Smith College (Geneva, New York)
  • 1986 Conference Coordinator with Cassandra George:"Woman As Leader: A Teacher's Conference" - held at Hobart and William Smith College (Geneva, New York). Bobbi was also a trainer for this conference.
  • 1986 Special Training Camp Host, along with Phyllis Drescher - held at Yale University
  • 1988 Conference Coordinator with Cassandra George:"Woman As Leader: A Teacher's Conference" - held at Hobart and William Smith College (Geneva, New York)
  • 1988 Special Training Camp Host, along with Cassandra George - held at Hobart and William Smith College (Geneva, New York). Bobbi was also a trainer for this camp.
  • 1990 Special Training Camp Host, along with Phyllis Drescher - held at Albert Mangus College (New Haven, CT)
  • 1992 Special Training Camp Host, along with Pam McCready - held at Haverford College (Haverford, PA)

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