10th Degree Black Belt
Over a decades-long martial arts career that began in 1963, Michael
Kinney earned an international reputation as a competitor, coach, tournament
official, seminar leader, and prolific instructor.
Mr. Kinney first studied ju-jitsu and tang soo do in the suburban
Washington D.C. area under legendary Grandmaster Ki Whang Kim. Mr. Kinney was a
young brown belt training hard at Kim’s Studio when, after the death of his
father, he switched to a new school operating out of the local YMCA. It was half the price, and the instructor was
a Kim Studio black belt who had left the school to start out on his own. Since
all of the students were beginners, Mr. Kinney was allowed to assist. It didn’t
take long for him to be promoted to a higher rank, and it didn’t take long for
him to realize that this school was not like others before it. The new
generation of black belts had a vision for the future of what America’s martial
arts schools would become in years to come.
At 18 years old, Mr. Kinney became the first black belt and chief
instructor of this groundbreaking school—TKA. It had become one of the largest
schools in the country. During this era, the martial arts were practiced only
by men, and TKA was one of the first schools to introduce programs designed for
children and classes friendly to women. It would become the model for the first
large-scale “family martial arts school.”
By the end of the 1960s, TKA had branched out into more uncharted
territory—community and recreation centers. This was at a time when karate
schools had only been known as storefront operations. By 1975, Mr. Kinney was
overseeing the instruction at over fifty locations in three counties and
serving more than 2,000 students. He opened a training center near the
University of Maryland while attending college there. The Adelphi Center served as the main school
and attracted some of the premier talent in the area. During his tenure in the
Washington D.C. area, Mr. Kinney produced scores of top black belt fighters,
forms competitors, and instructors. He laid a major foundation of school owners
and instructors that still operate in and have an impact on the region today.
In 1980, he moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Soon after arriving, he established
his reputation in the South. He duplicated his successful formula in St.
Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department. He dominated martial arts
competition for a decade in the Tampa Bay area, and from there he carried his
reputation nationwide as hundreds of his students won state and national
rankings in the North American Sport Karate Association (NASKA). Today, his
school remains in operation as Kinney Karate, the first and largest program in St.
Petersburg’s Parks and Recreation Department.
During his fifty-year career, Mr. Kinney introduced hundreds of thousands
of students to the martial arts. He trained and performed with many of the
world’s greatest legendary masters. His seminars commanded audiences at
conferences, schools, camps, and clinics. Mr. Kinney promoted thousands of
black belts, many of whom now own their own schools around the country.
Hundreds of his young black belts have gone into the military, served in
combat, or gone directly into our nation’s military academies. Many are career
soldiers holding high ranks, and many are professors, teachers, scientists,
lawyers, law enforcement officers, judges, and leaders of industry.
Mr. Kinney received service awards from universities, school systems,
cities, states, international organizations, and even President Obama. He was
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 was inducted into the International
Martial Arts Black Belt Hall of Fame, and he was recognized as both a martial
arts pioneer and a legendary member of the elite martial artist community. 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.
- International Black Belt Hall of Fame Inductee
- EUSA International Martial Arts Assn. Executive Advisory Committee
- SMAU Senior Advisory Council