Kelly McInerney's Martial Art Biography
Martial arts interested me growing up, but I never knew anyone who was
active in a martial art or given the opportunity to learn one. I grew up the
middle child between two brothers. If I knew a martial art or self-defense
growing up, it might have made some of my days less painful and stressful. I
also participated in athletics. Maybe if I knew some of the grounding and
energy concepts I know now, I may have been more effective in some of the
sports I played.
When I started to work at Lockheed Martin in 1993, I worked with two members
of the Han Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do Club, Norio Tominaga and Sam Nazzal. Both of
them encouraged me to try the club out and, based on their encouragement and
for other reasons, I joined in January 1994. First, like I said, I have
always been interested in martial arts and this was an opportunity to learn
more about it. Second, I was female, living alone, so learning techniques to
defend myself were important to me. (If not to mention those two brothers
who I needed to defend myself from time to time growing up, were concerned
for me living alone and wanted me to buy a gun for protection, and I opted
for learning self-defense instead, which satisfied them). Third, being
athletic, I felt it would be a good workout environment. Lastly, I was new
to the Bay Area, and it was an opportunity to meet new people.
I have learned more from studying and teaching Han Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do that
I ever imagined when I first joined the club. I have been exposed to and
learned new concepts and ideas regarding energy and have gained confidence
through my accomplishments in the club.
I earned my first-degree black belt in December 1997. The road to achieving
it had its challenges. During those years I faced uphill battles trying to
balance my commitment to the art form and other commitments in my personal
life. Many times I almost gave up the art form. The encouragement from
members of the Club including Brian Rainie, Bob Ramirez, and Wayland Louie
helped me stay on the course and work through my challenges both in the art
form and in my personal life. I achieved my Second Degree Black Belt in July
2002 and my Third Degree Black Belt in January 2009.
I have been instructing classes for both the Lockheed Martin club and other
clubs since 1999. I was promoted to Certified Instructor in December 2005,
Interim Chief Instructor in January 2007, and Chief Instructor of the Han
Moo Kwan Club in Sunnyvale in December 2007.
Instructing the art form has assisted me in improving my techniques and
gaining a better understanding of the applications of the techniques
themselves. It has also been an opportunity to give back to the club and the
community. In instructing I have also enjoyed meeting and connecting with
people who joined the club for many different reasons and watching them
improve and embrace the art form. I have probably taught more than 50
different students to date. Everyone is different, everyone learns
differently, and you never know from their first beginner’s class and first
score who will still be working out in the club 1, 5, or even 10 years
later. Every time you try to guess, you guess wrong, or you get surprised.
I have found extreme satisfaction in continuing to improve not only my
performance of the art form, but in researching and learning more about
martial arts, the history of tae kwon do, improving my instructional
ability, and assisting others and providing an environment for students to
grow and improve physically as well as mentally and emotionally.
Being an instructor has also helped me in my professional life by having
another venue for presenting as well as learning and adapting teaching
styles for different learners and understanding motivation methods for
I have also been a Club Officer and have enjoyed working for the Club and
being part of sustaining its legacy. I was the Club’s Vice-President from
2000 until January 2006. In February 2006, I became the Club’s
Secretary/Treasurer until June 2007. I resigned as a Club Officer when I was
asked to take over the Club as the Chief Instructor. As an Officer, I worked
closely with the other Officers and Board of Directors to establish 10 of
the 11 current Club Policies and the six (6) current Club Best Practices. In
addition, I worked closely with the Board of Directors to develop the
current Association website reference material.
I could not imagine what my life would be like had I not continued with
studying and teaching Han Moo Kwan and being part of the Club. I have grown
and continue to grow in many areas I might not have otherwise if it was not
for my experiences in the Club. And in the process, I have made many
invaluable friendships and found my soul mate and kindred spirit in Brian
The lessons I have learned to date are too may to count, but the key ones
for me are: a martial artists is more than someone with skill (it is
learning and knowing who you are); your ego only gets in the way of
advancing and learning, growing in martial arts is like life - it is all
about the journey, the path, and we all travel and get where we need to be
in our own way and time; and there is always more than one answer.
What I have learned as part of my martial arts journey, I have also been
able to take into my personal and professional life. I have been able to use
my experience and training in martial arts to improve my other athletic
activities: hiking, softball, weight lifting, cycling through my improvement
in focus, breathing, balance, etc. I have been able to use my understanding
of energy to help me in the professional world – in reading and
understanding energy, deflecting energy and not taking it on. I have also
been able to come more from a place of clarity in my everyday interactions.