A Lineage of Excellence

J. Pat Burleson is the founder of the American Karate system. He holds a 10th degree black belt. Pat began his study of the martial arts in Japan in 1957, a competition career in 1963. In addition to regional championships, he claimed the first US National Championship in Washington D.C. in 1964. It was Pat Burleson himself who won the 1st National Karate Championships in 1964 in Washington D. C., held by Jhoon Rhee. Burleson joined AlGene Caraulia, who later taught out of Cleveland Ohio, as the first nationally recognized champions in “American Karate”. Burleson, in fact, gained the nickname “the granddaddy” of the early tournament fighters. Jhoon Rhee remembers how proud he was that one of his own students would win the first Rhee tournament.


April Cunningham began training under Grand Master Pat Burleson in 1965. She founded Houston Karate Academy in 1985 and has over 50 years of teaching experience. She is a 9th degree World Certified Black Belt and is World Martial Arts Ranking Association Member Number 137.


Houston Karate Academy offers personable and safe karate instruction combined with fun and self-discipline. We believe that people of all ages and body styles can enjoy martial arts. Our instructors specialize in building self-esteem and self-confidence.  Our instructors are superior role models for all young people. We offer kid-safe karate and self-defense, competition and weapons training for children and adults. We teach Kuntao Silat and Bujinkan classes. Our classes are offered Mondays through Fridays, and private lessons are available.

About Us

Jhoon Rhee is a South Korean master of Tae Kwon Do who is widely recognized as the 'Father of American Tae Kwon Do. Upon arriving in the 1950's, he introduced this martial art to the United States of America. He began his training under Grand Master Won Kuk Lee.