Joanie Pannell started on her martial arts path almost by accident. When she was seven, she tagged along with several older cousins to a karate tournament at the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City. It just so happened that Chuck Norris was also attending that tournament, and Pannell had the chance to meet and talk with him.
From then on, “I was hooked,” Pannell remembers. “I loved the whole atmosphere of the matches, the fights and weapons demonstrations. I knew then I wanted to train and be a part of the martial arts world.”
She wasn’t able to begin her training until she attended the University of Central Oklahoma, and was thrilled to discover they offered a taekwondo class. While there, she was asked by Bob Kinney, 10th Dan black belt and founder of the Kinney Karate Association, to train with his “Wild Bunch” division.
Six years later Pannell received her 1st Dan black belt, and two years later earned her 2nd Dan black belt. She went on to become a self-defense instructor with the Yukon Community Education program and helped co-found the Yukon branch of the Wild Bunch.
Before coming to Century, Pannell worked as a bank auditor. She took time off to care for her two young daughters, and in that time decided banking was not for her.
“I was struck by an ad for the Quality Auditor position for Century,” Pannell says. “I thought to myself, ‘that is outstanding’. So I guess you could say happy coincidence of fate. I love what I do every day here at Century.”