If someone had told me when I was in my teens that I would one day own and operate a martial arts school and become the first 6th degree black belt woman in the art I had chosen to study, I would have thought them crazy. That was never even a thought in my mind, let alone something I believed I could, or would achieve. I never would have thought that possible.

Twenty-one years ago I was having some challenges in my life and decided to start martial arts training. I immediately felt the stress relief and positive results from the training and kept going from then on. The life skills that are woven into the training have helped me with many challenges over the years. When I started the training I was quite shy, low on self-esteem and lacking in confidence. I could never have seen myself teaching, in fact, the thought of that paralyzed me with fear. I had the hardest time even saying my name, introducing myself and getting through a test - each time I would practically hyperventilate I would be so scared. However, through perseverance, the training, and the guidance of my instructors it became a little easier each time.

Reaching 6th degree has had its challenges and there have been many times throughout the years that I have thought I was stagnant in my training and that I was even regressing; times when I thought I might actually quit. This was especially true after failing my 5th degree. That was a challenging year and I really questioned my ability and whether I wanted to continue. With the correct encouragement and mentoring I have learned that these are times to persevere through and appreciate. I now know that they are periods when I am, in fact, actually improving. When the breakthrough comes it is very gratifying. Every student goes through these periods and they are frequently times when students question whether they should continue. My advice is - keep going, you will get through it and be so thankful you did. This is true in everything you do. These training experiences have such tremendous parallels to life. This art has helped me gain so much confidence in every area of my life. Now I enjoy teaching and helping others gain the knowledge that I have, not only in how to defend themselves, but that they can achieve their goals if they just keep going!

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