Teresa Marie McClary

Michigan,  USA

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Teresa was born in Kalamazoo Mi. She was raised by her mother and father, and is the youngest of four children. At age nineteen she married and embarked on raising a family. Teresa started studying Uechi-Ryu karate at age 23 with Mr. James Thompson in Kalamazoo and for the first time in her life, she didnít struggle. Teresa readily understood and loved the learning, which led to her achieving her black belt in 1988. She and her husband later opened up their own school, Bangor Karate Academy with permission from Sensei Thompson. After 23 years of marriage to Brian, Teresa divorced in 2002 and turned the school over to him, while in the same year opening up her own school, the South Haven Karate Academy in South Haven, Michigan. Teresa, now a Godan (fifth degree black belt), feels deeply honored to study under Sensei James Thompson. She credits studying Uechi-Ryu Karate for changing her life, building her confidence, improving focus and enticing her to teach. Uechi-Ryu has given her the courage to return to school, focusing on massage therapy and body works.  Teresa loves her life practicing therapeutic massage during the day and Uechi-Ryu Karate in the evenings.

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Personal Information

Current occupation or profession: Owner and practitioner of Healing Touch Therapeutic Massage and martial arts teacher.
Age: 44
Marital status: Single
Children: Michelle 24, Paul 21
Hobbies, special interest or skills: Gardening, Travel, Cardio Kickboxing, Biking, and Massage

Karate Information  

Current rank:   Godan
Total years of study:   21 years  
Current style:   Uechi Ryu  
Current dojo:   Okinawan Karate Academy  
Dojo location:  1837 So. Westnedge, Kalamazoo , MI 
Current instructor:   Mr. James Thompson  
Association affiliation:   Independent Ė Mr. James Thompson  
Karate and other martial trainings and years attended:  

a.  Summer Camp - Kalamazoo 1989

b.  Summer Camp - Kalamazoo 1991

c.   Womenís Self defense seminars

d.  Assist Mr. Thompson in his college karate course at the community college

e.  Help organize the annual beach work out.

f.     Summer Camp - Kalamazoo 1989

g.  Summer Camp - Kalamazoo 1991

h.   Womenís Self defense seminars

i.     Assist Mr. Thompson in his college karate course at the community college  


Other martial arts or weapons studied:   Aikido and weapons but very limited  


Karate Promotions

Rank Certificate Number Date of Issue Location of Promotion

Kalamazoo, MI

Uechi-Ryu Karate Association

Shodan 3064 May 15, 1998

Kalamazoo, MI

Uechi-Ryu Karate Assocaition

Nidan 1543 May 20, 1990

Kalamazoo, MI

Uechi-Ryu Karate Association

Sandan 884 November 29, 1992

Kalamazoo, MI

Okinawan Karate-Do Association

Yondan 513 November 12, 1995

Kalamazoo, MI

Okinawan Karate-Do Association

Godan 01 November 19, 2000

Kalamazoo, MI

Uechi-Ryu Karatedo Kokusai Association

Educational Background

College: Kalamazoo Center for the Healing Arts, Kalamazoo, MI


At what age did you begin to study karate?
23 years old.

Why did you choose to study karate?
I started karate to learn how to protect myself.

Was there a reason why you chose to study Uechi Ryu?
I chose Uechi Ryu because my brother and husband (at the time) were studying Uechi-Ryu.

What does the tour to Okinawa mean to you?
I feel this tour is a chance of a lifetime, and it has been a dream of mine to be able to one day go and train in Okinawa with some of the best. I also look forward in the opportunity to train with the women of this style as I feel there are not a large number of women in Uechi-Ryu. It will be great to talk to other ladies that have a common interest.

How has martial arts study affected or changed your life?
Studying martial arts has let me meet great people, Iíve made a lot of friends. It has given me confidence in myself, self-esteem, patience with people and myself. Iíve been able to teach people how to defend themselves. Before karate I had very low self-esteem and was shy. I now feel respected from my peers and I respect them.

Growing up I was a very shy girl. I never raised my hand in school; I didnít want to be noticed. I didnít feel I was smart and felt I didnít want to be found out. When I started martial Arts I just wanted to protect myself. But I fell in love with it the very first day. It was the first thing in my life that I understood and wanted to learn. It began to make me feel confident and I started to build self- esteem. I began to talk to people and I started for this first time to feel respected.

 Uechi-Ryu Karate has made me the person I am today. It gives me something in my life to try hard at and I know it will be never ending. There will always be something to work on, to get better at. There is no end and thatís the beauty of it. It has also given me a chance to teach other women to defend themselves and help to build their self esteem. It is one way I will be able to leave my mark on this earth.


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e-mail: peggyhess@womenskaratetour.org OR dphess@bellsouth.net   

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