1. Sempai Connor

Sempai Connor at his 1st degree black belt test.
Sempai Connor at his 1st degree black belt test.

1. How long have you been training in the martial arts? Why did you start?

“I have been training in martial arts for around 11 years. I started my training because both of my older sisters were doing it, and I would watch what they did. It just looked like something I wanted to do. One of the best decisions of my life.”

2. Have you ever used your martial arts outside of class?

“I can’t say I have ever needed to physically defend myself (a few wrestling matches with cousins and friends aside). However, something that I have used from my martial arts training is the equally-important mental aspect. Martial arts is so much more than a self-defense class. Martial arts has made me a better person. It has allowed me to shape a better life for myself and improve myself in areas not directly related to martial arts. It has allowed me to be able to teach and become a better leader. Even though I have never used self-defense outside of class, I use lessons learned and aspects of character reinforced from martial arts daily.”

3. What was the biggest obstacle you have overcome since you began training?

“One of the biggest obstacles I ever overcame was a long time ago. When I was the equivalent of a brown belt at my old school in Connecticut, I had to move to Washington. I had to start learning everything from white belt again. When I was younger, it was very hard to start learning something different from that which I had already learned, and to suddenly be so much farther from my goal of getting a black belt.

Looking back now, this turn of events actually made me realize I wasn’t ready for a black belt at the time. The obstacle turned out to my advantage, and I’m a better black belt for it. Black belt is more than just a rank, it’s a journey.”

Sempai Connor is a 1st degree in Chung Moo Kwan Tae Kwon Do and has been training since he was 8. He is Sempai Yudanjanim Caitlin’s younger brother, and both siblings have been with NWSMA for over 10 years.