Meet our Instructors

Grandmaster AJ Cunningham

April J. Cunningham , 10th Degree Black Belt, has been in the martial arts for 52 years, and remains a World Certified Black Belt and is World Martial Arts Ranking Association Member Number 137. She is the founder, owner, and manager of Houston Karate Academy located in Houston Texas. Houston Karate Academy offers mixed martial arts programs in the following arts: Tae Kwon Do,  Aikido, Bujinkan, Kentau Silat, Jui Jitsu, Judo, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and Yoga..  Ms. Cunningham’s martial arts training began in December, 1969 and she earned her 1st Degree Black Belt under Mr. J.P. Burleson in June, 1973, and was promoted to 10th Degree Black Belt in February of 2018.

Ms. Cunningham teaching philosophy is feels that “a child with a strong self esteem is much less likely to become involved in any activity that is unhealthy or unsafe.” Kids need to like themselves. At HKA, we can work with the parents and teachers to elevate a child’s self confidence so they are not subject to peer pressure, and ultimately participate in activities that can lead to an unhealthy outcome. Also, many of our kids experience an increase in their ability to relax and concentrate and achieve higher grades in school. Very quickly, they are placed in our academic excellence program and receive special recognition on each rank exam for being on the A or B honor roll. 

Houston Karate Academy also accepts most Special Needs children including LD, ADHD, Downs Syndrome, physical handicapped and Autistic children. Ms. Cunningham feels that children with special needs require special attention. Many special needs children are unable to participate in school sports. In October of 1985, Ms. Cunningham began working with the American Red Cross Houston Chapter of the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County, and pioneered the first structured martial arts training program for learning disabled/handicapped individuals in Harris County. In December of 1988, Mr. Burleson and the American Karate Black Belt Association awarded her the first Certificate of Achievement ever awarded to a female black belt, for her work with handicapped children and adults.

Mr. Wells is a 4th Degree Black Belt under Grandmaster Cunningham, and is an instructor in all programs at the Houston Karate Academy. He also competes on the tournament circuits and holds the Texas State Men’s Record for Breaking Bricks and Boards. Mr. Wells is a devoted husband and father of an 11 year old Junior Black Belt at the Houston Karate Academy. Mr. Wells also works in the Safety and Quality Management programs for all industries.

Mr. Wells