My interest in martial arts was awakened at age 14 when I started Shotokan training in Germany. I soon figured out that my strength lay with kata rather than fighting. Over the next few years, I attended kata summer camps and was able to train with national and international instructors like Shihan Hideo Ochi, Chief Instructor of JKA Europe. When I was a 7th kyu, Sensei Katja left the dojo to attend College and we were left with her student Senpai Dana, 5th kyu at the time, to continue in our Sensei’s footsteps. With no Yudansha (Blackbelt) instructor, the Dojo lost its character. It was time for my friends and me to try something new.
After experimenting with Aikido and a semester of Judo I started in a Teak-won do Dojo in 2003 and 2004 respectively. I felt like a rock compared to some of the other students that could easily jump-kick over a 6ft high obstacle. Adjusting my mawashigeri posed the biggest challenge to me at the beginning, but was helpful in my Kyokushin career later on. Training Teak-won do was more about the work-out than the Martial Art itself to me. I only spent about a year with the group and left in summer 2005 to move to the U.S.A.
After recovering from culture shock, I finally made it to the Ellensburg Kyokushin Dojo in summer 2007. I was very anxious and had no idea what to expect, but the curiosity was greater. Compared to my previous training, Kyokushin seemed to focus more on cardio and strength rather than form. Especially the kumite sessions were quite frustrating to me at times. I tested for my 8th kyu (blue belt) and entered my first Semi-contact tournament in fall 2007. Since then I have entered numerous tournaments. In June 2012 I had the privilege to travel to Japan as a member of the U.S. national team to fight in the IKO-Matsushima World Tournament and test for my Nidan. Together with my mentor and coach Shihan Ian Quitadamo, I had the honor to test at the Honbu Dojo in Isesaki, Japan in front of Kancho Matsushima (the head of the IKO3 system).
In February 2011, I started teaching my own kids class. I have been a student for so long, and still am, that I thought I would never be a teacher, or even like it for that matter. Some of my students have already participated in tournaments. I am glad to see new students join all the time. What I like most about Kyokushin is that it is a traditional mixed Martial Arts. In Kyokushin, we train by the principle that a good fighter has to be proficient in stand-up fighting as well as throws and self-defense. I think that training Kyokushin is helping me learn more about my strengths and weaknesses and is helping me grow as a person and productive member of society.