With all the time I spent in gymnastics and dance, my father managed to squeeze martial arts into my schedule. He trained for many years to earn his fourth degree black belt and started a karate school called Kin Ro Kai.

My father and I had a very special bond because of our training together. I was his star student, and not because I was his daughter. It was my discipline and focus as a student (which I can credit to my gymnastics training). While the other students would goof around, I was concentrating on understanding the self defense techniques and form. Gymnastics is such an amazing sport that teaches young kids to become disciplined and motivated athletes which translated into my Jiu Jitsu.

3209_1150572808860_2732141_nAs I moved up levels in gymnastics, I was also moving up the belt rankings in Jiu Jitsu. I competed in sparring tournaments, and collected almost as many trophies as I did medals in gymnastics.  So now you know not to pick a fight with me 😉

I’ll never forget at one of my tournaments, I was the only girl in my age division. When I first discovered that I was the only female, I was really nervous.  I remember thinking, “How am I going to pull this one off!?” My father pulled me aside and let me know that there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to beat them. His support as a father and sensei was so strong that I won the entire tournament. I learned that it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are before you as long as you believe in yourself and never give up.