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  • Writer's pictureManuel Obregon



Recently I was searching for a good read about the importance of martial in kids, but what I found wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Almost every article would talk about Confidence, Self-Defense, Self-Control, and Discipline, which is good, but it also looked as something that was taken out of a dictionary. Almost every single article that I read had the same meaning written with different words.

So, here it is, I’m going to talk from my personal experience: as a martial arts student and as a martial arts instructor. I am first, a student; second, an instructor. “Never forget where you are coming from”.

Looking for a Karate School

As a kid, I had a dream to be just like Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, and later on, Jean Claude Van-Damme. Not until I was 13 years old my dad took me looking for a karate school back in Guatemala, and as we were driving into the basement of a shopping mall, we saw this school called Sidekick Karate School.

The Journey Begins

This was the school that turned me into a martial artist, and into the person that I am today. Here I was, a 13 year old, (back in 1996) shy and skinny boy, starting my martial arts career. I learned how to take my frustrations out in each training, I learned how to be more responsible in my actions, and I learned to be disciplined in all areas of my life.

I remember the so call “KIA” was the hardest thing to do in class. My instructors, Francisco Alonzo and Lee Escobar will gradually motivated me and encouraged me to get it louder, and louder, along with my technique. They would polish me as they gave me an understanding of each movement, and the motivation while gaining my skills.

This is where confidence started taking on in my life "Confidence is something you create within yourself by believing in who you are". See, martial arts has that power, it will motivate kids to reach for their goals. Even after reaching a personal goal, a martial artist will always try harder and reach out to a new, higher goal. With karate, kids learn how be competitive in a good and healthy way. They find support in their instructors, as well as with their teammates. It can also lead to great friendships, just like it happened to me…

Martial arts is much more than “learning how to defend myself”. It is where values and principles learned at home, get reinforced. Martial arts is where I learned how to overcome obstacles, where I obtained confidence, where I became competitive not just against others but with my biggest competition, myself. Martial arts is where I learned how to create a bad situation into a GREAT situation. Martial arts taught me how to think before I act, how to treat others as I like to be treated, that nothing is impossible. Where I learned to get up, regardless of the times we hit the ground, martial arts has taught me so much more, that the list can go on and on. But I want to finish with this, martial arts keeps teaching me how to be a better parent for my kids, and how to be a better person.

The first style that I learned was Hawaiian Kenpo Karate. This style is consider a linear, and hard style. I started teaching karate in the same school from 2001 to 2007. Where I learned how to become a great instructor for kids as well as adults. It’s crazy how that shy boy became an instructor. After getting my black belt in Hawaiian Kenpo, I learned American Kenpo and acquired my first degree black belt with Manny Reyes Sr. in Miami, FL back in 2004.

The Journey Continues

Recently, in September 1st, 2017 I started my own Karate School, Sidekick Karate School USA in Midland, TX. My goal is to teach kids everything that I know about martial arts, as well as values and principles, and how to become leaders, regardless if they pursue a career in martial arts or not.

In the few months I’ve seen how kids and adults strive to be better each day. When a boy or a girl comes in, my goal as an instructor is for them to go back home knowing that they can do anything they put their minds into. Every student that comes to the dojo is here for a different reason, but, nothing is more satisfying as an instructor as to see how a student becomes better at something that they’ve been struggling to accomplish. And this, is where the magic of martial arts begins. Students notice the improvement on their skills and they start realizing that by putting more effort into every movement, they can accomplish anything they can. As an instructor, I like to let them know every effort is noticeable, and let them know how great they are now, and how greater they can become when they put that extra effort in every single thing that they do.

Yes, I am an instructor but I keep on learning. I strongly believe that if you think you know it all, then you know nothing. Bottom line is, martial arts is good for kids, it will boost their confidence, it will teach them how to channel a bad behavior into something positive, it will teach them how to defend themselves, it will teach them how to be leaders and the most important of all, they will accomplish anything that they get in their minds.

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