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Live Martial Arts Student Highlight: Natalie Valenzuela
Natalie is an awesome example of a Live Martial Arts student, so we are super excited to share her story. Anytime she’s on a live class she brings a positive energy that reaches everyone who’s training with us. She’s highly dedicated to her training and is very active on the Facebook group, motivating others with her goals and disciplined mindset. Learn more about her below!

Q: How long ago did you start Martial Arts & why did you start?

A: I started Martial Arts training in January of 2020. So I just completed my first year! I started because my two boys (ages 12 and 10 at the time) were in class and I realized I could either sit and watch them or join them! We had recently moved and our new dojang had a lot of adults training so it felt more accessible than ever! However, I will never forget the first time a young child complimented me when I was a white belt looking up at me smiling and saying, “Good job, Ma’am!” It was surreal and really cool!

Q: Why did you join Live Martial Arts Training?

A: I joined Live Martial Arts after finding Master Samery’s videos on youtube in my searches for opportunities to practice at home. Once COVID hit, I appreciated her videos even more and found Live Martial Arts. I subscribed and started accessing all of the great content. My favorite features are the follow along videos for higher kicks, the lessons for Bo Staff, and all of the recorded monthly live classes. Whenever I take a class with Master Samery or use her online content, I see immediate improvement. Sometimes I think the Masters at my school wonder how these improvements are happening. LOL. Master Samery’s training adds so much to my basic training. She provides personalized feedback during live classes and is very intentional in designing her classes to target specific aspects of Martial Arts (e.g. sparring, higher kicks, poomsae, etc). I have also come to appreciate the private Facebook group. Members have the opportunity to get to know one another and to ask one another questions regarding our Martial Arts practice and training.

Q: What do you do outside of Martial Arts?

A: Regarding work, I am a special education department chair at a local public high school. I have worked in special education for 17 years! My work and my values make advocacy a big part of my life. I have always considered myself to be an athlete. I played volleyball at the high school and college level (Division 4) and ran a marathon as a young adult. In terms of hobbies, I love to spend time outdoors, garden, bird watch, hike, and take walks with my dog. I also enjoy spending time with my family. My sons are very active and keep me busy

Q: What message would you like to send to other people or Martial Artists like yourself to help inspire them?

A: I recently turned 40. I am about 100 pounds overweight and suffer from an autoimmune thyroid disorder. Despite these obstacles, the taekwondo community has welcomed me, encouraged me, and challenged me. I am never made to feel “less than” even when I struggle to learn a new skill. I also really appreciate how complex the sport is. It feels impossible to get bored! As a newbie to Martial Arts, I would encourage others looking for ways to become healthier and join a caring, supportive community, to consider Martial Arts. To those who have gone before me, I am so grateful for your inspiration and encouragement. You are the reason I keep coming back.

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