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Even as a little girl, I was an athlete. Some of my earliest activities included ballet, tap dancing, and jazz. As I got older, I played softball and soccer. Yet the older I got and the more sports teams I played for, the more disenchanted I became with team sports. None of the other girls took anything as serious as I did. Sometimes this made me stick out. Coaches praised me for my dedication, yet my team mates ostracized me. To me, that contradicted the concept of a 'team,' and so began a search for something different.

I have always been two things; a tomboy, and an artist. I enjoyed Hot Wheels more than Barbies, fishing more than gossip, paints and crayons more than make-up. I felt fulfilled when I could spend the day outside getting dirty, touching wild animals, and having grudge football matches with my friends. My brother and I spent a lot of time racing or wrestling each other. I never associated myself with the idea of ‘being a girl,’ so of course, watching Enter the Dragon one night when I was fourteen inspired me to pursue martial arts.

I looked into several places before my best friend introduced me to Kuk Sool Won. I knew it was what I wanted to do as soon as I set foot in the dojang and met the people I have now come to know as my family. In fact, Sa Buhm Nim (then Kyo Sa Nim) George's first words to me were "Hi...I don't know you!" My first class was in August 2008, not long after my fifteenth birthday.

I was given the opportunity to train to become a SWAT instructor a year into my Kuk Sool journey. Thrilled by the chance to further myself and our school, I jumped and I have not looked back. Becoming a martial arts instructor is not an easy thing to accomplish. One is not the perfect teacher, nor the greatest role model right away. It is a learning process and not an effortless one. It happens in stages, like metamorphosis.

 Over the course of my years in Kuk Sool, my instructors George and Kelly have become my closest companions. They stayed resolutely by my side when others I considered friends faded away. Even when I was surely an intolerable person to be around, they looked past my gruffness and saw what I could eventually become. When things went sour in my family life, they provided me with clarity and escape. They have been across America and all over the world with me. I attribute all of my success in training and competing to the hard work and time they invest in me. Never before have I experienced such rewarding emotion for the equal share of loyalty. If I can be this same kind of influence for even one person, then I can consider myself a victorious human being, not just a martial artist or role-model.

My journey is jagged and filled with mistakes, but my experiences prove to be the perfect teacher. I now look back at my rawness with triumph. I want to give back tenfold the love I have been given. My skill, my attitude, and my whole demeanor has undergone a huge change. This is all thanks to the love and support of my Kuk Sool Won family. I hope to pass these experiences on to others as a martial artist, as staff, and as an instructor.