Our History

The History of Kinney Karate: How different people, their backgrounds, and the styles they have studied have influenced Michael Kinney.  Kinney Kinney Karate is unique as a system of martial arts because of the sum of over 50 years of training that includes these historical figures, mentor ship, and a vault of knowledge that accompanies Michael Kinney’s background.
Ki Whang Kim Remy Presas Wally Jay Michael Kinney
JiuJitsu Modern Arnis Kinney Karate Tang Soo Do
Aikido Tae Kwon Do Moo Duk Kwon Bob Maxwell-American Bando
Meaning of Soke
Michael Kinney
My 1963-1978  Washington DC/ Maryland PeriodI began my martial arts career in 1963 at Kim StudIo in Silver Spring, Maryland. The first 20 years of the skills that formulated my knowledge came directly from Mr. Kim and his influence. Even today, the forms, the Tang-soo-do and Aikido that he taught in his second floor studio, carried me to heights that I am sure he would be proud of. The dynamic kicking and fighting style that he taught to me fifty years ago has become the foundation of Kinney Karate.My father passed away in late 1964, and my mother arranged for me to take my lessons from one of Mr. Kim’s Black Belts at the YMCA who offered classes at a lower cost.  She was working three jobs to make end meet.  In some ways, this was a blessing, and a curse.  I never got my Black Belt rank from Mr. Kim, but I never would have gotten to the unbelievable place I am now if it hadn’t been for the vision of the rebel Black Belt, Dale Tompkins. His had broken away from Kim Studio, and taken me under  wing for the ride of my life. Major changes were happening in the martial arts in America.  I had stepped into the middle of “Golden Age of the Martial Arts.”I received my Black Belt in 1969, I had been a Brown Belt for four years because there was no such thing as a “junior” Black Belt.   had to “wait” until I was eighteen to be promoted to Black Belt.  It was a good thing.  I became the FIRST Black Belt in this new school started by the man who had “kidnapped me” from Mr. Kim.

He had named the school TKA (The Tang Soo Do Karate Association), I became the chief Black Belt instructor of the school.  TKA grew to over 50 locations with over 2,000 students by 1975. We were the first school to contract into recreation centers, and school gymnasiums.  We brought martial arts into small communities on a large scale.  Before TKA, it was rare to see children and women in the martial arts.  This was a ground breaking school that introduced family style martial arts into suburbia for the first time.

After I graduated Springbrook High School, I began college at the University of Maryland. That year, I also opened a studio in Adelphi, near the campus, with my instructor, Dale Tompkins, Over the next 8 years, the huge base of instructors that I produced would lead TKA into the future. Today, scores of Black Belts that I trained as Kids are teaching thousands of students in their own schools in the Washington DC metropolitan Area and around the country.
During the growth of the school, I also was an active competitor and I was training other instructors and students to be competitors to represent our school. We were highly successful with hundreds of competitors throughout the East Coast.  I also coached and fought on a school team that represented Washington DC. No one was doing this at the time.  I was also well known as a breaking competitor.
Our school also sponsored the Eastern Regional Karate Championship. One of the first large annual open tournaments starting in 1970 that still is running today.

We also sponsored an annual Karate Camp with over 500 campers. The first camp was held in Buffalo Gap West, Virginia in 1968.
The amazing size of TKA resulted in hundreds of thousands of students participating in this visionary program. We taught celebrities, politicians, athletes, diplomats, writers, newscasters, professors,  government agents and their families. The area was a hotbed of activity

My mother had remarried and after 40 years was retiring to Florida. My wife and I decided we were going to make a lifestyle change and the time was right. In November 1980, we headed to St. Petersburg, Florida, and the adventure in the south began.

In 1980, I made the decision to move to St. Petersburg, Florida when my parents retired. Soon after arriving I quickly reestablished my reputation in the south. Florida was a decade behind development in the martial arts and I quickly was able to duplicate what I had previously established as a school model using the successful formula I was comfortable with. Nobody believed in me when I approached the City of St. Petersburg Recreation department they said it couldn’t be done.  No one before had built a successful Martial Arts program.  I was turned down for the gym and given a little room in the back of one of the cities largest centers.  Within three months, Kinney Karate had taken over the gym two nights a week and on Saturdays.  Before long, the program became city wide.  

I  give credit to my mother. Her dedication as a single mom, a teacher who worked three jobs: a music teacher, a waitress, and a church organist to pay the bills. She always had faith that I would make something of myself and give back to my community.

It all started in a little traditional Karate school.  It was on second floor of a strip center on Georgia Ave in Silver Spring Maryland near the D.C. line, a simply named school like mine.  It was named Kim Studio. 

Michael Kinney- A 50 Year Career
his 50 year career, Michael Kinney (Martial Artist) has introduced hundreds of thousands of students to the martial arts. He has trained and performed with many of the world’s greatest legendary masters.  His seminars are in high demand at conferences, schools, camps and clinics.   Mr. Kinney has received service awards from schools, universities, city, state government, international organizations, and recently, President Obama.

He has been featured in “Black Belt Magazine”, “U.S. News and World Report,” ”Professional Karate Magazine,” “Who’s Who,” ”International Martial Arts Elite,””Washington Post Magazine,”and “Karate Illustrated,” among hundreds of other publications.  He has been inducted into the “EUSA International Martial Arts Black Belt Hall of Fame” and is recognized as both a martial arts pioneer and legend.

His numerous television appearances have included NBC’s “Today Show,” and ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.”  Mr. Kinney also was the host of “Kinney Karate World,” a series syndicated nationally and produced by Group W Television.  He has produced professional DVD’s for Instructors and school owners and is about to publish his first book.

Soke Michael Kinney has promoted thousands of Black Belts, many who now own their own schools around the country.  Proudly, hundreds of his young Black Belts have gone into the military, served in combat, and many have gone directly into our nations military academies. Many are career soldiers holding high ranks, many are professors, teachers, scientists, lawyers, law enforcement officers, judges, and leaders of industry.

Michael Kinney continues to teach beginners and advanced students in his classes in St. Petersburg.  He is proud to work alongside his instructors.  The year 2013 is his 50th continuous year as a practicing martial artist.

Tang So Do    
During the Japanese occupation (1910–1945), Hwang Kee left Korea and ventured into Manchuria. There he came into contact with an art similar to T’ai chi ch’uan. Hwang Kee eventually incorporated the flowing and graceful motions of the Chinese system with the linear, strong movements of Karate Do. This blend resulted into what is currently known as Soo Bahk Do.

Around the time of the liberation of Korea in 1945, five martial arts schools called the kwans were formed by men who were primarily trained in some form of karate, but also had exposure to kungfu. The five prominent kwans (and respective founders) were: Chung Do Kwan (Lee Won Kuk), Jidokwan (Chun Sang Sup), Chang Moo Kwan (Lee Nam Suk and Kim Soon Bae), Moo Duk Kwan (Hwang Kee), and Song Moo Kwan (Ro Byung Jik). These schools taught what most Americans know as “Korean Karate.” However, there were some philosophical differences in technique application and more of an emphasis on kicking in the Tang Soo Do Jido/Chung Do/Chang Moo/Moo Duk/Song Moo Kwan systems.

Around 1953, shortly after the Korean War, four more annex kwans formed. These 2nd-generation kwans and their principle founders were: Oh Do Kwan (Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi), Han Moo Kwan (Lee Kyo Yoon), Kang Duk Won (Park Chul Hee and Hong Jong Pyo) and Jung Do Kwan (Lee Young Woo). In 1955, these arts, at that time called various names by the different schools, were ordered to unify, by South Korea’s President Syngman Rhee. A governmental body selected a naming committee’s submission of “Taekwondo” as the name. Both Son Duk Sung and Choi Hong Hi claim to have submitted the name.

In 1959, the Korea Tae kwon do Association (KTA) was formed in an attempt to unify the dozens of the kwans as one standardized system of Taekwondo. The first international tour of Taekwondo, by General Choi Hong Hi and Nam Tae Hi (founders of the Oh Do Kwan) and 19 black belts, was held in 1959. In 1960, Jhoon Rhee was teaching what he called Korean Karate (or Tang Soo Do) in Texas, USA. After receiving the ROK Army Field Manual (which contained martial arts training curriculum under the new name of Taekwondo) from General Choi, Rhee began using the name Taekwondo. There are still a multitude of contemporary Taekwondo schools in the United States that teach what is known as “Taekwondo Moo Duk Kwan”. This nomenclature reflects this government-ordered kwan merger. Modern Taekwondo schools with the Moo Duk Kwan lineage often practice the early Tang Soo Do curriculum, a curriculum that was more closely associated with Karate-Do Shotokan.[citation needed]

Despite this unification effort, the kwans continued to teach their individual styles. For instance, Hwang Kee and a large constituent of the Moo Duk Kwan continued to develop a version of Tang Soo Do that eventually became what is now known as “Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan”. This modified version of Tang Soo Do incorporates more fluid “soft” movements reminiscent of certain traditional Chinese martial arts. Other modern Tang Soo Do systems teach what is essentially Korean Karate in an early organized form. The World Tang Soo Do Association and the International Tang Soo Do Federation, for instance, teach systems of Tang Soo Do that existed before the Taekwondo “merger” and before the development of modern Soo Bahk Do Moo Duk Kwan. These versions of Tang Soo Do are heavily influenced by Korean culture and also appear related to Okinawan Karate as initially taught in Japan by Funakoshi Gichin. As mentioned above, the term “Tang Soo Do/Dangsudo” was initially a Korean pronunciation of “The Way of The Chinese In Japan, ??? was pronounced “karate-do” (“The Way of The Chinese Hand”). These characters initially reflected historical origins of the arts. However, the term “Tang Soo Do” (mostly in the United States and Europe) has evolved to currently describe a form of Karate that is distinctly Korean, but is different than both Taekwondo and Soo Bahk Do.
To restore national identity after the protracted occupation of Korea by Japanese forces, the Korean government ordered a single organization be created. On September 16, 1961, most kwans agreed to unify under the name ‘Korea Tae Soo Do Association’. The name was changed back to the “Korea Taekwondo Association” when General Choi became its president in August 1965.

Chuck Norris, the famous actor, popularized Tang Soo Do in the United States, and evolved the martial art Chun Kuk Do from it. Chuck Norris was taught Ki Whang Kim, Mr. Kinney’s instructor.


Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba.  He envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but as an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. During Ueshiba’s lifetime and continuing today, aikido has evolved into a wide variety of expressions by martial artists throughout the world.

Ueshiba developed aikido primarily during the late 1920s through the 1930s through the synthesis of the older martial arts that he had studied. The core martial art from which aikido derives is Dait?-ry? aiki-j?jutsu, which Ueshiba studied directly with Takeda S?kaku, the reviver of that art.

The of Aikido is to master an attack and harmlessly redirect it. In an ideal resolution, not only is the receiver unharmed, but so is the attacker.

Aikido was first introduced to the United States in 1951 and was popularized by Steven Seagal in the 1990s.

In aikido, as in virtually all Japanese martial arts, there are both physical and mental aspects of training. The physical training in aikido is diverse, covering both general physical fitness and conditioning, as well as specific techniques.

Because a substantial portion of any aikido curriculum consists of throws, the first thing most students learn is how to safely fall or roll. The specific techniques for attack include both strikes and grabs and the techniques for defense consist of throws and pins. After basic techniques are learned, students study freestyle defense against multiple opponents, and techniques with weapons.

Mr. Kinney has studied Aikido since he was a teenager from a variety of instructors starting with Mr. Ki Whang Kim, and then Mr. Dick Kern. In Kinney Karate, we teach important and most realistic applications of Aikido techiques in our program. We teach the throwing, falling, rolling first. As our students advance in rank, the Aikido becomes more of a dominate part of the .

The Art of “Modern Arnis

Modern Arnis is the system of Filipino martial arts founded by the late Remy Presas as a self-defense system. His goal was to create an  training method as well as an effective self-defense system in order to preserve the older Arnis systems. The term Modern Arnis was used by Remy Presas’ younger brother Ernesto Presas to describe his style of Filipino martial arts.

Arnis is the Philippines’ national martial art and sport, after President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the Republic Act, mandating the sport as a Physical Education course to be included among the priority sports in  the National Games beginning 2010.

One of the characteristics of Filipino martial arts is the use of weapons from the very beginning of training and Modern Arnis is no exception. The primary weapon is the rattan stick, called a cane or baston (baton), which varies in size, but is usually about 28 inches (71 cm) in length. Both single and double stick.

In most areas of the Philippines, Japanese martial arts such as Karate and Judo were much more popular than the indigenous systems. Remy Presas’ modernization of the training method was intended to help preserve the Filipino martial arts. He taught the method of hitting  during practice, which attracted more newcomers to the art and allowed the art to be taught in the Philippines’ school system.

Training covers  self-defense (striking, locking, throwing, etc.) as well as the trademark single and double stick techniques of the Filipino martial arts.

Emphasis is placed on fitting the art in with a student’s previous training (“the art within your art”), smoothly reacting to changing situations in the fight (“the flow”), and countering the opponent’s attempt to counter strikes. Practitioners are called  Arisdadors or Modern Arnis players.

Ki Whang Kim


Kim Ki Whang (1920 – September 16, 1993), also known in the United States as Ki Whang Kim, was a Korean martial arts grand master. He was Chairman in the US of the Tang Soo Do Moo Duk Kwan Association, Chairman of the US Olympic Taekwondo team and helped unify several Korean martial arts into the overall style of Taekwondo.

Kim was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1920. At the time Korea was occupied by Japan. Under their regime martial arts had been banned since 1909, though the practice of taekkyon was not banned until the year of Kim’s birth.

Despite the Japanese ban, Koreans still practiced martial arts in secret, and Kim was able to study Judo at the Kodokan from 1931, earning a Black Belt five years later. The ban did not extend to Koreans who lived in Japan, and Kim learned Shudokan Karate from its founder, Kanken Toyama, at Nihon University in Japan. He became captain of the team, earned the nickname “Typhoon” and earned a fourth degree Black Belt rank in this style.

He also went to China for two years, probably as a draftee in the Japanese army, where he learned kempo and shaolin kung fu. He returned to Korea where he founded the Chung Do Kwan style, teaching it at Sung Kyun Kwan University.  A notable early student during this period was Sang Kee Paik.

In 1963, he emigrated to the United States, where he remained for the rest of his life. His U.S. students included Richard Chun,  Chuck Norris, John Critzos II, Pat E. Johnson and Mitchell Bobrow. He taught more than 25,000 students and issued 424 black belts. He had a wife and a daughter, and retired in 1992. He was awarded a 10th dan black belt while in the hospital with liver cancer at the age of 73, and died on 16 September 1993. Kim was held in high regard and more than 650 people attended his funeral.

Remy Presas

Remy Presas was born in the town of Hinigaran, Negros Occidental, Philippines.

By the age of fourteen he had his first stick fighting match with a Sinawali master that Presas knocked out with one stick hit. He continued to travel across the Philippine Islands to learn from other masters and to compete in  competitions and many street fights. Presas eventually focused on Balintawak Eskrima, but earned a 6th degree black belt in Shotokan Karate and a black belt in judo.

In 1966 Presas began developing his own system which he called “Modern Arnis” by identifying the basic concepts of the numerous systems he had learned and merging them.

By 1969 Modern Arnis had been approved by the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation as a regular subject to be taught at the National College of Physical education.

Presas was the Arnis consultant in the 1974 Philippines produced film “The Pacific Connection.” While working on this film he instructed and became friends with US actor Dean Stockwell.

In 1982 Presas was inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame as Instructor of the Year. In 1994 he was again honored by Black Belt as Weapons Instructor of the Year.

Presas earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education and taught the subject at the University of Negros Occidental-Recoletos; because of this he was addressed as Professor Presas, and became known in martial arts circles as “the Professor”.

He later worked for the Philippine government in the area of physical education, spreading arnis instruction through the high schools. Presas was forced to leave the country in 1974 because of pressure from certain government officials.

He moved to the United states, first staying in the home of his student, Dean Stockwell and spent the rest of his life living in North America, but traveled worldwide to conduct seminars.

Presas died on August 28, 2001 in Victoria, Canada from brain cancer. Since his death, several groups have emerged to carry on instruction in his art. His younger brothers Ernesto Presas and Roberto Presas, as well as several of his children (most notably his eldest son, Remy P. Presas), are active in the Filipino martial arts.

Wally Jay 1917-2011

Wally Jay was born in Hawaii of Chinese descent. At age 11, he began to study boxing under a community program. In 1940, he studied Danzan Ryu jujutsu under Juan Gomez and learned judo under the former Hawaiian Champion, Ken Kawachi. Jay and his wife Bernice were awarded a Certificate of Mastery by Seishiro Okazaki, the founder of Danzan Ryu jujutsu, on February 22, 1948.Jay spent time with Bruce Lee and his associates in 1962 teaching them judo and jujutsu techniques
Jay was the head instructor of Jay’s Jujitsu Studio, which is also known as Island Judo/JiuJitsu Club in Alameda, California. Even past the age of 90, he traveled worldwide teaching seminars on Small Circle JiuJitsu. Jay published two books; Dynamic JiuJitsu and Small Circle JuJitsu and numerous instructional videos.
In 1969, Jay was inducted into Black Belt Magazine’s Black Belt Hall of Fame as “Ju-Jitsu Sensei of the Year” and again in 1990 as “Man of the Year”.In August 2002, Jay held a ceremony officially handing the title of grand master over to his son Leon Jay in their hometown of Alameda, California near San Francisco. Family, friends, several martial arts masters and the media witnessed the occasion.

Even though the true origins of JiuJitsu are impossible to trace, elements of the art can be traced back over 2500 years.  Mythical stories of Kajima and Kadori two legendary gods tell of how the inhabitants of an eastern providence were punished for their lawlessness using Ju-Jitsu techniques.

Chikura Kurabe, a wrestling sport that appeared in Japan in 230BC had many techniques that were incorporated into JiuJitsu training.  During the Heian Period (784 AD), JiuJitsu was incorporated into the Samurai Warrior’s training so that he could defend himself against an armed attacker in the event he lost his sword.   In 880 AD the first JiuJitsu Ryu was formed by Prince Teijun.

One of the first Ryu that used JiuJitsu as a primary art was founded in 1532 by Takenouche Hisamori.  Legend has it that while on a pilgrimage, Takenouche collapsed from exhaustion after training and meditating for several days.  In his delirium he received a vision from a phantom warrior.  The warrior taught him five techniques of immobilization, and the advantages of using short weapons over long ones.

Prior to the foundation of the Takenouche-Ryu, openhanded combat techniques existed solely as a subordinate art to a major weapons’ system.  Most modern JiuJitsu Ryu can trace their lineage directly back to Takenouche. In the early 16th century, Hideyoshi Toyotomi introduced the Chinese Art of Ch-an Fa (punching and nerve striking) to Japan and it was adopted by Ju-Jitsu.

During the Edo Period (1603-1868), under the Tokugawa military government, Japan became a more peaceful area.  Weaponless styles began to replace the weaponed forms of old.  During the Edo Period, it is believed that more than 700 systems of JiuJitsu existed.

During the Meiji Restoration, the power of Japan shifted from the Shogun back to the Emperor. Since the Samurai had supported the Shogun, an Imperial Edit was set forth, making it a crime to practice the martial arts of the Samurai.  Many of the practitioners became bone-setters, as they were well practiced from the injuries sustained in the dojo.  Unfortunately, many more used their skills to put on fake wrestling shows for public amusement, or became gangsters.  Some masters took the art “underground” or practiced in another country until the ban was lifted in the mid-twentieth century.

JiuJitsu is the father of some fairly new martial arts.  In 1882, Jigaro Kano developed the art of Judo using JiuJitsu as the model.  In the 1920’s Useshiba Morihei developed Aikido which is based on JiuJitsu.  Even more recently, BRAZILIAN and GRAPPLING STYLES have emerged.

True classical JiuJitsu is taught as part of the KINNEY KARATE SYSTEM. We include the ground style grappling, which is “sport” JiuJitsu.”  The techniques recognized as “Brazilian” have always been part of the classical style of the art.

JiuJitsu is taught to police and special operation military forces, but there are few opportunities for the general populace to learn this ancient art of Feudal Japan as it was meant to be taught.

Mr. Kinney’s first JiuJitsu instructor was Jim Bregman.  In 1964, Mr. Bregman made history as the first American to win a medal in the Olympics in Judo.  He won a bronze medal for the US Team and surprised the world.

Michael Kinney was influenced as a young man by his friend Bob Maxwell.  As a young teen, he was befriended by Bob, and they spent hundreds of hours together sparring and sharing time training.  At the time, Michael didn’t really understand the meaning of what he was learning and what Bando was.  He had heard endless conversations about “Dr Gyi,” the founder of American Bando.  A big part of Michaels background in combat skills, sparing strategies and philosophy has been directly influenced by his friendship with Bob Maxwell.

Bob Maxwell-American Bando

Bob Maxwell studied Bando as part of the first generation of students with Dr. Gyi.  He was an early competitor in the 1960’s.  He was also kind of a James Bond kind of guy who had a secret job with the government that I never really understood, but he had something to do with protecting important dignatarties.  I only recently understood how important Bando was in Martial Arts linage.  I consider it such an honor that Bob took me under his wing as a y0ung man.

Bando (pronounced bun doe)  is a multifaceted martial art, with roots in China, Burma, and India. The system was brought to America in the late 1950’s by Maung Gyi (now Dr. U M. Gyi, (Grandmaster)) from Burma while teaching at the Embassy of Burma in Washington, D.C. and who later formed the American Bando Association [ABA]. The ABA is a private, non-profit World War II veterans memorial martial arts organization the only Martial Arts organization in the U.S., or in the world, whose primary mission is to honor the CBI [China-Burma-India] veterans of WWII.  The Korean War and the Vietnam War were added at a later date.

This Burmese art is practiced by a small group of dedicated students and teachers here in the U.S. under the direction of Dr. Maung Gyi.

Bando is not Karate. The karate-like techniques of striking, kicking and butting are but a few of the aspects of the Free Hand Weapon of the Bando Discipline. Other aspects of the Free Hand Weapon of the Bando Discipline include grappling techniques of throws, trips, flips, holds, locks and chokes. In Burma, the Free Hand Weapon is traditionally called “Bando”. Additionally, there are the aspects of the other Weapon Hands of the Bando Discipline traditionally called “Banshay”, such as stick fighting, sword fighting, knife fighting, spear fighting, gun fighting and combat archery.  As the old Bando saying goes, “One Finger Does Not Make the Fist.”

The Meaning of the term “SOKE”

Soke, pronounced [so?ke], is a Japanese term that means “the head family” or “house”.  In the realm of Japanese traditional arts, it is often used to indicate “headmaster”, or sometimes translated as “head of the family.”  The English translation of S?ke is “Grand Master.”     Soke is sometimes mistakenly believed to mean “founder, or inventor of a style.” Many modern Soke are the first generation headmasters of their schools, and are thus both Soke and founder.  Use of the term Soke is controversial, because of confusion between multiple historical definitions.
The most common use of the term Soke, has evolved into a title bestowed by established associations to older, and experienced Martial Artists with a long history who have trained generations of Black Belts that have created a traceable “lineage.”
Soke are considered the ultimate authority within their school, and have final discretion, and authority regarding promotions, curriculum, doctrine, and disciplinary actions. A Soke has the authority to issue a certificate indicating that someone has mastered all aspects of his style.
Kinney Karate has Korean (Tang Soo Do), Japanese, American, and many other influences in it’s roots.  SokeMichael Kinney does not prescribe to the notion that Kinney Karate is solely his own invention, although his 50 years of experiences, and influence has made the style his own unique fingerprint in the Martial Arts.
A Soke is a “Sensei (teacher)” to the 10th Degree.  This describes the essence of Michael Kinney as a martial artist.

Soke Sean Martin, PhD

Dr. Martin introduced Kinney Karate to Kage-Essensu, a modern style emphasizing practical techniques.