April J Cunningham


9th Black

Member's ID




April J. Cunningham
 , 9th Degree Black Belt, has been in the martial arts for 49 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 styles: Tae Kwon Do, Jui Jitsu, Aikido, Kentau Silat, and Ninjitsu.  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, her 3rd Degree Black Belt in 1983, 4th Degree Black Belt in 1988, her 7th Degree Black Belt in June, 2000, 9th Degree in Jan 2013 .

Ms. Cunningham 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 

Ms. Cunningham feels “owning your own business in a masculine sport is not difficult; you earn your place early in your career and the structure of our sport is such that your accomplishments afford you a solid, respected place among your peers.” She believes that, regardless of age, gender or size, the martial arts would provide a person endless opportunities for success.” The Houston Karate Academy offers full service Martial Arts training for children and adults, in two locations in Houston Texas. 

In addition to her martial arts career, Ms. Cunningham is one of 2000 “cardiovascular perfusionists ” in the United States, earning her degree from the University of Texas Allied Health Science School located in Dr. Denton Cooley’s Texas Heart Institute in Houston Texas. 17 years into her medical career, she now provides consulting services in the field of ambulatory surgical care.