Shawn Nabizadeh - TAEKWONDO
I was introduced to martial arts at a very young age, around 3. My father used to do martial arts in Iran (kyokushinkai; a Japanese style of full-contact martial arts), which is how I was introduced to the sport at the age of 3. He taught me how to make a fist, and accordingly, how to punch, as well as a few other hand techniques in addition to some basic kicks. At the age of 5, my father enrolled me in Ken Nagayama Martial Arts, which was a mix of Karate, Judo, and a royal Japanese martial art called Mutsuroboi (Not sure of spelling). I went there for about 4 years and nearly received my black belt though had to resign due to moving and the very long commute that resulted from it. I was also simultaneously doing tennis where I also did well and won a few tournaments, and again, had to stop because of the commute. So for two years, I wasn't involved in a sport, until the age of 12, when I found the Dae Myung Judo/Taekwon-do Academy a 15 minute walk from my home. The master of the school is Jae Ho Park, an 8th degree black belt in Taekwon-do and Judo, and a 7th degree black belt in Hap ki do. He is father to 3 sons, one of which is my instructor and coach, James Park, and also a 7 time National Champion himself. I quickly skipped belts because of my prior experience and skill. (Currently a red belt, which normally requires 1.5 to 2 years before you can be eligible for receiving a black belt).I competed in the Jimmy Kim Invitational Tournament and won first place in sparing when I was a green belt. I loved the feel of competing, and of course, winning. I then trained, and trained, and decided that I would try to qualify for the Nationals. About 2 weeks before the Qualifiers. I pulled my right hamstring muscle. It was the most painful thing I've ever felt and probably the worst injury I've every sustained. So now, I couldn't kick with my right, or balance on it to kick with my left. An analogous situation would be swimmer without his arms. I still went to class...though had to watch as my teammates trained. It was a horrible feeling, not being able to do anything when my mind wanted to but my body couldn't. By some miracle, I had a buy for the Qualifiers, as in I didn't have anyone in my division to spar for that specific tournament in California. I was saved. I still went to the tournament, and was prepared to do what ever I could in the ring should I have been called on to fight (although none would enter my division that day). Now I had the time to rest, heal, and train harder for the Nationals which were two months away. (The Qualifiers were in late April). Slowly, I began to go through the motions of kicking, and tried to condition (sit-ups/pushups) in order for me not to lose any stamina and keep in shape. My leg never reached 100% healed, which it needed to be, (and it wouldn't be for another 4 months), though I qualified so I wasn't too concerned about it, and wasn't about to pass up the opportunity that I'd been set on for the entire year.
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