The year was 1999. I was 7 years old. I approached my mom with a request, “I want to take Taekwondo instead of ballet!” This came as an odd request, considering we had no friends or family who had ever even mentioned martial arts, let alone train in the art. She sighed, and went through the local “Clipper Magazine” to find a coupon. Two classes and a uniform, for only $19.95! Ill never forget her words, “I’ll take you, since I’ll only be wasting $20 on something you’re going to hate.” I didn’t blame her. I was a timid and scrawny little girl who barely weighed enough to be out of a car seat and was afraid of my own shadow. Three days later, and I would step foot into the local Taekwondo school. I took a 30-minute intro class and I immediately became hooked. At the age of 7, I had no idea that this would forever change the course of my life, but goodness do I feel blessed to have parents who decided to support this crazy idea of mine.
The year is now 2016, and I am a Senior Second Degree black belt in Taekwondo. For the last 17 years, I have trained fervently to set goals, work to achieve them, and continue to move forward. I’ve never taken a “break” from the martial arts. I’ve never lost passion; I’ve never wanted to give up. Every night, no matter what, I am in class training. Not only am I there, but I’m still excited like a kid on Christmas morning. My mom had to ban kicking in the kitchen when I was growing up, otherwise I would stand there all day practicing all the parts of each kick. I practice forms in my living room still to this day. I go over sparring tactics in my head at the grocery store. To say I eat/breathe/sleep/dream martial arts is just the beginning.
Why do I train? I train for positivity. To believe in myself. For the stability, even when I didn’t have it in my life outside of martial arts. For the confidence I would’ve never had. To make my parents proud. To be in the best possible physical shape. To set new goals, and work to smash them. To carry on years of an ancient tradition… and to continue to grow with an open mind as the martial arts world evolves. To make a name for myself. To continue to compete and challenge myself. To create something I’m proud of. Most of all? To prove to the world, and especially to young girls that it doesn’t matter your sex or your size, this is a sport for all. This is a sport that changes your life. It all begins with a will to work for what you aspire to achieve.