Woman of the Year: PDN’s Kelly Muir Honored by Black Belt Magazine

PDN author and video contributor Kelly Muir has been named Woman of the Year in Black Belt Magazine’s November 2012 issue. She will be inducted into their prestigious Hall of Fame.

Drawing of Kelly Muir for black belt magazine

Image courtesy of Black Belt Magazine.

Kelly Muir has been involved in Martial Arts for over 30 years. She holds a Master Level certification in both Shorin-Ryu Karate and Korean Tae Kwon Do. A pioneering force in the development of curriculum for martial arts centers, her innovative teaching style has received numerous national awards and been featured in many magazines and industry journals. As a former United States Olympic Committee sponsored athlete, Kelly is very committed to the development of Sport Martial Arts. She owns and operates Team Karate Center in Columbus, Ohio.

Black Belt Magazine Editor Robert W. Young wrote in bestowing this honor:

She’s a big believer in reality-based fighting and armed self-defense, a progression you don’t see a lot among women in this industry but should.

Perhaps most inspiring is how Kelly runs her dojo, which might be more accurately described not as a “martial arts school” but as a “martial arts old-school.” Seems she gives black belts only to adults, hates the notion that training is a feel-good activity or the diversion of the month, and values the preparedness men, women and children can gain from lessons taught right.

Instructor Revolution

In 2011, Kelly authored and published Instructor Revolution: A Superior Method of Teaching Children Martial Arts. And the book’s stated intent is indeed revolutionary:

After becoming an industry leader in the 1990s and running successful schools in California, Kelly left the industry for a short term to go into corporate training. While away, she had time to reflect on the programs she had been running and realized that, although they were well respected and successful by all traditional measures, she felt that something was lacking. That something turned out to be Integrity. Kelly opened Team Karate Center Columbus in 2004 with a plan to teach traditional Okinawan Karate to children in a strict, empowering and practical environment. No false praise, no emphasis on the

Kelly Muir posing in strong team karate position

Photo courtesy Kelly Muir.

parent experience in the waiting area, No 36-month Black Belt children. At the end of 2010, TKCC offered their first Junior Black Belt Test. Amazingly, half of the students at that test had been with Kelly for over five years. In a world where some children are being awarded full Black Belt ranks in less than three years, Kelly had proved that a successful business could be built on a program with integrity that explained to children that earning their Junior Black Belt after many years of hard work simply meant that they could entertain further work and study for the chance to take a Full Black Belt Test.

Kelly Muir posing in fighting position

Photo courtesy Kelly Muir.

Wrong Woman

Muir is also the founder and lead instructor of Wrong Woman™, the first comprehensive intuitive self-defense program designed by a woman for all women, regardless of age, fitness level or risk factors. The four-session Wrong Woman™ Fundamentals Course was designed by Kelly to raise participants’ awareness of the types of threats they may face, the choices they can make in life to keep themselves safe, types of defensive tools they might consider owning and learning how to use, and some of the fundamental unarmed defensive skills they can use in a worst-case scenario. This is followed by detailed and challenging follow-on classes in a variety of areas, including Self Defense Within Two Arms Reach, Electrical & Chemical Defensive Tools, Introduction to Defensive Firearms, and Personal Risk Assessment & Intuitive Decision Making.

Personal Defense Network

Confirming Muir’s wide-ranging personal-defense commitments, among her contributions to PDN are articles on Integrated Self Defense (combining mindset, physical fitness, unarmed and armed defensive training), and Defensive Striking, and a full-length video course on Physical Defense for Women, which is available to PDN Premium Members (another reason to join!).


In response to being named Black Belt Magazine’s Woman of the Year, Kelly stated:

I have been fortunate to have an enduring career in martial arts. During the 34 years I have been training, the number of women participating in martial art programs has increased and, as such, the number of women who pursue it as a profession is beginning to grow as well. Being awarded “Woman of the Year” and consequently getting inducted into the Black Belt Hall of Fame is especially meaningful because it represents nearly three decades of dedication and effort. It also demonstrates to the young women who are beginning their journey in martial arts that their voice, their effort and their dedication are vital to the growth and professionalism of the entire martial arts industry.

On a personal note, it was such a surprise! You can’t “apply” to win and I had no idea my name was even nominated. I told a colleague that it was like winning an incredible race that I didn’t even realize I was in! I was very honored.

The Future

We asked Kelly what’s next for her:

Though I have taught for two decades, the demands of being a mother and running a training center left little time for extra projects. As my children get older, two even moving into their adult lives, I find that I am extraordinarily excited about experiencing the next phase of my professional life. With more “extra” time than I had before, I look forward to working on instructor development within the martial arts arena and introducing my self-defense program, Wrong Woman, to a national audience.

Congratulations, Kelly! We look forward to your future contributions to the Personal Defense Network.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

One Response to “Woman of the Year: PDN’s Kelly Muir Honored by Black Belt Magazine”

  1. rob phillips CCW inst.

    i show DVDs in my classes that feature Kelly& Rob. And i personally enjoy watching them on Stop The Threat. I enjoy learning from both of you