How many years have you worked with Kids Kicking Cancer?
How did you begin with martial arts?
I started training in Japanese karate in my late 30’s, a little later in life than most people! I was tired of doing aerobics and thought I would give it a try. Little did I know that I would fall in love with it. Not that it was easy. I trained in a very traditional dojo, and there were no shortcuts. The training was very demanding both physically and mentally. But I embraced the beauty of true martial arts – the history, the philosophy, and the rewards. So I faced the challenges, overcame my fears and persevered.
What lessons have you learned over the years from practicing or teaching martial arts?
As a student of martial arts, I learned that I should never try to figure out how to win a battle, because I should never engage in that battle in the first place. From a physical standpoint, we should train a lifetime with the goal of never having to use the skills we have honed. From a mental standpoint, we can overcome our battles or challenges by using the power of our mind.
As a teacher of martial arts, I hope that throughout the years I have taught my students the same lessons.
What inspired you to join Kids Kicking Cancer as a martial arts therapist?
Because of my martial arts background, a family from my church whose son was in the program mentioned it to me. They spoke so highly of the program that I had to look into it. I was very impressed and inspired by the professionalism, the compassion and the dedication of everyone on the staff at KKC. And after observing multiple classes, I knew this program was helping these children and their families in ways I never knew were possible.
There was always this nagging question in the back of my mind – why had I started training in martial arts so late in my life, and why did I stick with it for so many years? The answer – it was all to prepare me to be a Martial Arts Therapist at KKC!
What do you love most about Kids Kicking Cancer’s mission?
I love that we really do empower the children. We make every attempt to be with them not only in class, but whenever they need us – for surgeries, procedures, treatments, and hospital stays. And it is a blessing to be with them and guide them through the various breathing techniques and meditations. But when we can’t be with them, they know they have the power within, as Powerful Martial Artists, to help themselves overcome whatever darkness they are experiencing.
Do you have a favorite KKC story or experience you would like to share?
There are so many stories to share. However, one story relates to Power Peace Purpose. We tell the children that their purpose is To Teach the World. During a zoom class last year, we had one student join us. She was actually in the hospital, receiving treatment to prepare her for surgery the next day. Her parents were with her. That was the first amazing moment – she’s in the hospital being prepped for surgery and she joins the class! It came to the part of our class when we do Power Breathing. Just at that moment, a nurse walked into the room and we could see her on the screen. Our student immediately said, “We are going to do Power Breathing. Come and let me teach you!”
How do you promote respect within the classroom?
I start by showing the children respect and patience. This takes on many forms, and most often, you have to “read” the class for what the children are feeling that day. Whether or not they want to participate in a conversation, share their feelings and power breathing moments, or do the karate techniques. But the goal is to always encourage them, to remind them of their power within, and to help them draw from that power through motivational speaking. These same principles also apply if a behavioral issue needs to be addressed.
What do you do for fun?
I love to travel, and to enjoy great times and food with family and friends.