Instructor Bio

Sensei Dara Connolly...

Imagine you are in a karate class where you feel safe to be yourself because you are an important part of a supportive team.

As a mother, I give the type of instruction I would like my children to receive. My role as the Instructor is to focus on the positive and motivate each student to his or her best ability. Every student has their own individual process of learning, and it is important for me to discover what that is.

I walked into a Karate class at age 10...

And can still remember that first day very well, and can anticipate the anxieties & concerns of my students when they walk into my class.

From the beginning, I took my training very seriously and within a few years was promoted to WTKD Instructor Certification and later became the first (and only) female Instructor at my dojo. In my adult life, I expanded my training to include Japanese weapons, practical self-defense (to avoid kidnapping & sexual assault) and meditation. I have over 20 years experience in martial arts and continue to learn each day.

Knowing what’s important...

Teaching students the importance of meditation, inner-strength and focus-- to tap into your highest potential-- is more important to me than any ranks or awards on my wall. Often our class includes “inspirational talks” that offer positive, self-motivating advice that students can use in daily life.
We are not a competition based school...

Our focus is on building each student individually to achieve their own goals. Every class includes meditation, one on one instruction, teamwork and fun. Minimal light contact sparring is only done at the higher belt levels to learn self-control, timing and distance. We are proud of our annual in-studio Tournaments where we recognize & award students of exceptional abilities. And in our school, senior students and Black-Belts have a very important mentoring role of supporting & encouraging other students.

Our students also learn the importance of making a contribution to our community. Every year we host a Kick-a-Thon to raise money for charity, and have raised over $18,000!
My work is my passion...

I have dedicated my life to healthy living and have a BS degree from the
University of Rhode Island in Food Science, with a minor in Women’s Studies. In addition to leading Albany Karate classes, I am also the founder of the award-winning Kurukula Girls Empowerment Organization & creator of the Jerky Johnny® safety game for girls sold on Amazon.

Our mission statement says it best:
Albany Karate develops self-confidence and skill,
fully empowering you to believe in yourself

Email: dara(at)