By John Santiago
Through the years of learning and loving martial arts, it has shaped who I am today. Martial arts have improved my life ever since I joined the Mountain Academy of Martial Arts. I absolutely love the people in the program because I feel like I am with a second family. Martial arts have changed me both in a mental and physical way that developed who I have become today.
I was in the World Taekwondo Federation for about two or three years before my instructor left for China. I don’t recall why he left for China. However, when that happened, I thought I had to start all over in taekwondo if I joined another taekwondo program. However, I was taken in by the Mountain Academy of Martial Arts. I was little nervous at first, but it was probably the best thing that had ever happened to me. It had much more to offer such as weapons and other forms of martial arts like Arnese.
I used to be very quiet and extremely shy when I was younger. Soon after joining, I felt myself becoming more comfortable around the people as if they were a second family. Now I am not as shy and quiet as before. I am now able to become more sociable with others outside of the class too. I also was not as scared of conflict or anything that could frighten me because I finally knew I could defend myself. I have no idea if it may be just me, but I feel like my senses or reflexes to seeing movement has increased too because of martial arts. When I came to this program, I was slower, weaker, and smaller. However, now I became the fastest and one of the strongest amongst my friends. It’s funny because the amount of taekwondo I have practiced, it strengthened my legs, which is probably why I am so fast for a short guy.
Even though, martial arts have changed me in many ways. The thing I love most about the Mountain Academy of Martial Arts is the respect everyone gives to each other. I give the most respect to my instructors, Master Bishop and Mrs. Sutton because they have gotten me to where I am now and who I have come to be. Whenever I was confused or having trouble with a technique or form, they were there to help correct my mistakes and fix the little things. Also, after fixing my mistakes, I always had an area I needed to improve which makes it so much fun because there is always something I can learn.
Taekwondo or martial arts in general have been an amazing experience for me. Whenever I felt stressed out at school or depressed, coming to class let’s myself let go of all of it because I lose myself in the learning. Now that I am finally reaching my black belt rank, I never realized I would come so far from the first day I began learning. I started off from the one being taught to the person I am now who teaches others. As I attain my black belt, I plan to learn other forms of martial arts and continue in the program to help others improve and reach their 1st Dan rank too just like how my instructors have done for me.