Born and raised in Edmonton, Neil Dunnigan began studying Uechi-Ryu karate in Halifax, Nova Scotia in 1974, under Sensei Jim Maloney. Returning to Edmonton in 1981, Sensei Dunnigan began teaching traditional karate full time, spreading Uechi Ryu karate to Western Canada.

Sensei Dunnigan has traveled many times to Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, for intensive training with senior masters, including the late Master Kanei Uechi. Since 1989, he has been studying directly under Master Tsutomu Nakahodo, 10th degree black belt.

Sensei Dunnigan is surrounded by dedicated and loyal black belts, some of whom have been training with him since 1981. This includes a number of students who have achieved the prestigious rank of Godan (5th degree black belt) or higher.

In January 2010, Sensei Dunnigan was promoted to Nanadan, 7th degree black belt, by an Okinawan test board of 9th and 10th degrees senior masters.