Michael grew up in upstate New York participating in most of the traditional “American sports” during his youth and at 18, was scouted by Major League Baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays. Michael earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from the State University of New York College at Oswego in 1991. He began his martial arts journey later than most. Looking for an activity for his eldest son, Christopher, after relocating to Raleigh, Michael enrolled in taekwondo classes at White Tiger, with his son, in 1998. After earning his first degree Black Belt in 2001, Michael continued his training under Grandmaster Rondy, but paused his testing to allow his three sons, Christopher, Quinton and Nicholas, to achieve multiple Black Belts in both Taekwondo and Hapkido instead. This selflessness may have cost him additional rank within the Martial Arts communities, but is the epitome of the Black Belt life skills that White Tiger promotes and that all martial artists strive to uphold.    

After his youngest son had achieved multiple Black Belts in both Taekwondo and Hapkido, and at Grandmaster Rondy’s insistence, Michael put his years of training to task and returned to testing. As of current, Michael has earned the rank of 5th Degree Master Black Belt in Sisu-Kwan, 4th Degree Master Black Belt in Taekwondo and 1st Degree Black Belt in Hapkido. 

Grandmaster Rondy gifted the White Tiger legacy to Michael in 2019. He guided White Tiger through COVID, constructively organizing ways to continue White Tiger’s high standard of training through the pandemic and allowing White Tiger students to continue to further their training while many martial arts schools did not endure. Through Michael’s efforts during this time, many White Tiger students were still able to achieve Black Belt Rank/Certification that is compliant with all Kukkiwon/World Taekwondo Federation, Korea Hapkido Federation and Samuel Kwok/Ip Man Wing Chun Martial Arts Association standards.  

Michael’s personal philosophy toward the instruction of martial arts, and thus White Tiger’s as well, is more than just how many forms our students can remember or how many boards they can break. It is developing a lifestyle of personal improvement and of accepted responsibility to use what you are taught for the betterment of all. The goal of the Martial Artist should be to mold him/herself into a better person, not only in fighting ability but also in dignity and honor.

© Rondy McKee 2024