Sensei Kyle Sonnabend-Liberty was born December 8th, 1950 in Yakima, Washington. Her martial arts way of life began in 1973 with Sensei Morris Mack in Shudokan (Okinawan) Style Karate. At that time she was working at a health club and attending Yakima Valley Community College. Her interest in health and fitness kept her motivated to explore what the martial arts had to offer.
Between 1974 and 1976 she trained in USA Goju with Sensei Bill Liquori in Orlando, Florida. He was of the “old traditional style training,” and most students quit because of such hard, grueling classes. But by meeting such a challenge, Kyle became strong, not only physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Kyle lived in the dojo, slept on a cot, and worked-out several times a day. Karate became her way of life.
In 1976 Kyle and her husband, at that time, Brad Weller, opened a dojo in Spokane, Washington, called American Karate. They taught Karate for the Parks Department, the Spokane Athletic Club, and Whitworth College. Kyle continued to gain knowledge and develop techniques by attending seminars, participating in tournaments, and exchanging ideas with other martial artists. In 1978 she tested for first-degree black belt with Sensei Liquori. She was also working towards her Bachelor degree in Physical Education at Whitworth College, which she completed in 1979.
In 1980 Kyle began studying Wun Hop Kuen Do Kung-Fu, a Chinese style, in Portland, Oregon with Sifu Fred King. She also trained two nights a week with Sifu Dan Anderson on tournament-style fighting techniques. Between 1981 and 1983 she trained in Chan Chuan and in Wu Shu with Sifu Peter Morales in Spokane, Washington. During the summer of 1983 Kyle traveled to Chengdu, China to study Wu Shu at the Chengdu Sports Academy. Her roommate and very helpful coach in china was Cynthia Rothrock, now a martial arts movie star, and for many years, #1 rated female forms competitor in the USA.
In the fall of 1983 Kyle traveled to Orlando, Florida to participate in the U.S. Nationals and also to attain her second-degree black belt from Sensei Liquori. From 1984 to 1995 she taught Karate at the Athletic club in Yakima, Washington. She participated in tournaments whenever possible, collecting more that 50 awards. During that time Kyle was rated among the top 10 female fighting competitors in the region. In 1988 Sensei Liquori visited Kyle and her students in Yakima and promoted her to third-degree black belt. Between 1989 and 1991 Kyle attended Central Washington University for her teaching certification and has been teaching in the public schools since that time.
Kyle became interested in traditional Goju-Ryu as taught by Sensei Morio Higaonna of Okinawa, and was accepted into that organization (IOGKF) in 1994. In 1996 Kyle opened her own dojo, Goju-Ryu of Yakima. Sensei Higaonna promoted her to second-degree black belt in Goju-Ryu that summer. That same year, Sensei Liquori promoted her to fourth-degree black belt in USA Goju.
In 1999, due to medical problems Kyle had to retire from Karate. She focused on teaching high school, married Michael Liberty, and completed her Master of Education degree in 2003. During the 2003-2004 year she won Washington State Teacher of the Year for her excellence in teaching at-risk youth. She continues to teach in the Yakima Valley area.
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