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The MKG Detroit Experience is one like no other in Michigan's martial art and kickboxing industry. We recognize that full-contact sparring and competition is not on everyone’s agenda, nor a likely part of every individual’s modern lifestyle. That is why MKG Detroit centers our methodology on the safe and fun training of authentic marital art and fitness kickboxing for recreation, the discovery of new skills, and permanent health benefits. Our student community is made up of friendly every-day folks from all walks of life, and our expert instructors demystify martial art training to ensure accessibility and ease of learning for all individuals. The result is the creation of an atmosphere that is electric, tons of fun, always engaging, and ego-free. Class instruction and fitness training is designed to meet you where you are, and lift you up to new levels. MKG members train to learn practical self defense, relieve stress, try new skills, get in great shape, and expand their social circles. Ours is a true community, not a “dojo”, with self development through kickboxing and martial art at it's center.

MKG Detroit is proud to be Michigan's official headquarters for the innovative and world-renowned MKG Method of Martial Art, and the MKG International Martial Artist Collective.


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A Fresh Approach
to Martial Art

Our gym, known in-house as the “MKG Work Shop”, is a creative work and training space as unique as the Detroit metro area in which it was born. Envisioned to be a community space above all else, our members feel right at home here. Students arrive early or stay late to listen to music, read comfortably about the history and cultures surrounding martial art and fitness, visit with other members over coffee, and of course, get on the mats and do the work of learning cool things and improving themselves. Our approach to atmosphere and training is inspired by artists and tradespeople from all areas of expertise, like a sculptor in a studio or mechanic in a body shop.

MKG Detroit does not utilize colored belts or traditional martial art uniforms. We train in comfortable active-wear, or fighter apparel when relevant.  We have our own line of gym attire for sale, and are the home base for Detroit-based Mano Mano international martial art lifestyle brand.

While we do not adhere to traditional ranking methods and martial art hierarchy, MKG Detroit does offer voluntary level testing and certifications to assist our members in setting and achieving realistic goals, developing regular training partners, and fully exploring the culture and curriculum found through the MKG METHOD of martial art study.  These legitimate certifications are fully-recognized world-wide.

About MKG Detroit's Owners


Married couple Kurt Cornwell and Amariah Houseknecht started MKG Detroit in Fall of 2013 as a pop-up school in the city of Detroit. Classes were originally held in gyms and community rooms in Southfield, Corktown, and the Cass Corridor.

Like many martial artists, Kurt practiced a variety of martial traditions throughout his childhood. After high school, his studies expanded to include massage therapy, healing, and the survival skills of Indigenous Peoples of the Americas. These experiences led him to a group of instructors from the MKG family who encouraged him to pursue his passion for martial art and protection skill development.  The result was a decade-long adventure in Minneapolis, MN, training martial art under the instruction of MKG International's founder, Sifu Rick Faye, as well as teaching weekly classes at the MKG flagship gym, MKG-HQ. It was at MKG-HQ where Amariah and Kurt first met. Amariah, a family social worker and kickboxing practitioner, proved to be the missing piece in what MKG Detroit might one day become. In time, Kurt decided to follow his dream of teaching martial art in the Detroit area, and together, the pair set off to bring the MKG Method to the Motor City.  They now dedicate themselves to the communities of southeast Michigan through the sharing of self defense, fitness, yoga, holistic health, and the MKG Method of Integrated Martial Art. MKG Detroit also regularly partners with other martial art organizations in the Great Lakes region to present workshops and seminars on a variety of topics, as well as its many corporate, law enforcement, and athletic partnerships. Amariah and Kurt now live in Ferndale, where MKG Detroit has it's headquarters and gym.

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Rick Faye, world-renowned FMA, JKD, and Muay Thai expert, started the Minnesota Kali Group (MKG) in the garage of his Minnesota home in 1982. Over time, a growing collection of local martial artists gravitated to Rick's unconventional training style and training space, until the garage was no longer big enough. Thus, the first gym of the MKG family was born. What follows is but a part of their story, and in turn a part of our own.

Martial art has traditionally been taught from teacher to student, teacher to student, in rigid format at specialized academies or at the temples of legends over the course of multiple generations. This has how it has been for centuries. Access to quality martial art training was restrictive, often invite-only, and may have required years of servitude or grueling tests of will to even be accepted as a beginner pupil. Teachers often refused to train anyone outside of their country of origin. Students were rarely granted permission to train in styles outside of their own or with teachers outside of their dojo. The result was conflicts between styles, between artists, and alienation throughout the martial art world. Duels between schools or artists were commonplace and destructive. Students were often taught only small portions of their art for fear that, if trained it all of it, they might use it to defeat or humiliate their Master. The result was a great deal of cultural and classical confusion throughout the martial art world.

In the mid 20th century, famed martial artist and movie star Bruce Lee sought to change that. Throwing away much of the orthodox martial art dogma, Lee emphasized functionality over ritual, and personal development over the perpetuation of ego. He famously thumbed his nose at the Masters of old, creating a teaching and training atmosphere that refused to hold its emphasis in its buildings, rituals, or historic affairs. His students were of all class and color, seeking functional skill over tradition at any cost. After Lee's passing, his student and predecessor, Sifu Dan Inosanto, took this process one step further. While Inosanto ran Lee's schools, and eventually his own academy, he came upon a novel notion of how to crack open the proverbial martial egg for all to see. By travelling to the artists, rather than insisting the artists travel to him, he was able to expose the entire world not only to the beauty and benefit of martial art training, but to completely nullify the lines in the sand drawn by the previous ambassadors. Thus, Inosanto popularized the "Training Seminar Tour," a format that is still used by most martial artists and world-class teachers today. 

Having no formal academy of their own, Sifu Inosanto's first generation of seminar-trained students pooled their resources and skills to form authorized "Training Groups" where local martial artists of any background and style were welcomed to participate regardless of their pre-existing affiliations. These democratic tribes of dedicated artists began popping up in metropolitan areas around the country, creating a new wave of martial art evolution lead by a passion for the pursuit of information over pleasing a Master and receiving any sort of formal rank and title. These groups were composed of athletes, engineers, collegiate wrestlers, law enforcement and security professionals, doctors, bartenders, soldiers, and students. The only requirement was an open mind and the willingness to work hard, get knocked down together, and lift each other up. Self-starters, sign here.

One of the groups to quickly land on the radar of both traditional and non-traditional artists everywhere was Rick Faye's Minnesota Kali Group, based out of Minneapolis, MN. Led by the talented and enigmatic Faye, himself a martial artist already of merit, they had a reputation for funny antics and insatiable appetites for the Arts. The more attention the Kali Group drew, the more it grew. In quick time, the Minnesota Group would go from simply attending seminars to actually hosting them. As did the others groups, MKG began to organically take on their own feel, curriculum, and training modalities based on the information passed on to them under the guidance and blessing of legendary figures like Dan Inosanto, Larry Hartsell, Chai Sirisute, Francis Fong, Leo Gaje, Marcus Wynne, Paul Vunak, and others.  Applying Bruce Lee's scientific approach to martial art analysis, these grass-roots martial art pioneers created a two-fold path to developing both successful fighting skills and grounded self improvement. The result was a hybridization of martial art that both valued integrating the arts, while simultaneously honoring their individual merits. It stopped being "this style vs that style," as the focus naturally drifted away from "styles" at all. Thus, Rick Faye's group began to simply organize itself into it's own entity, and with that, it's own Method. 

Over the decades, the art and science developed by the Minnesota training group grew too big for Minneapolis alone, and now spans all over the world. MKG Detroit is proud to be Michigan's headquarters - The Michigan Kali Group - for this iconic Method. We respect and welcome all arts, all artists, and all opportunities to learn. We honor the process that preceded us by allowing the Method to continue to evolve through us. We seek out the creative and the curious, both the bold and the timid, the powerful and those who would be. We welcome any and all individuals with a hunger to learn and to improve, to see their lives enriched by these arts, and to see these arts persist through their dedication. We get together weekly to learn, laugh, sweat, and hit things. It's as it's always been in that regard, because the format is perfect. Our destination is only our path, born from the best parts of martial artistry, and from which the best parts of life can be discovered to be true.