I love our Facebook community. On Monday, we asked them why they began their martial arts training, and their answers were so inspiring that I just had to share them with you.

“I was picked on as a child and had a lot of anger issues. I joined karate when I was seven and am now on my 11th year and hold two national titles. I craved discipline and the chance to do something greater than myself and I found it. I want to thank John Covington (my instructor) for pushing me as hard as he did and seeing the potential in me where I never could.” —Dylan Ott

“I am about to test for my black belt, almost 10 years after first stepping on to the mat. The short of it is that something indescribable drew me to it. I literally cried the first few times I went on the mat. It will be the second most important thing I've ever done—only raising my daughter has impacted my life more.” —Karen Dee Tschorn

“It was my dad playing Bruce Lee movies when I was a kid. I remember being so in awe of what he could do, and I wanted to be just like him. I was obsessed and got my black belt by age 10. It's been with me my whole life.” —Marc Golding

“Searching for something … wasn't sure what it was at the time … but I found it.” —Jason Sandlin

“I wanted to be just like The Karate Kid, or Sho Kosugi, or Chuck Norris, etc. But I never had the chance to train in my youth. As I went into high school and college, I saw martial arts as a way to get in shape and learn skills that would help me protect myself and my family should something ever happen. I've been at it for more than 12 years now. Love every minute of it.” —Eric Kumor

“I always wanted to train as a kid, but my parents didn’t have the resources. We signed our son up at age 4 for TKD, and we all love it! I am working on my blue-belt requirements now. Kill Bill has to be my feel-good ass-kicking movie currently, along with Wing Chun.” —Kirsten Spitzner “Bruce Lee! I forget how old I was, but watching him on Kung Fu Theater changed me. He was unbelievable!" —Mark Spaulding

“Seeing Game of Death as a 4-year-old and saying for the first time in my young life, ‘I want to do THAT when I grow up!’" —Lalin Canthump

“I was too little for football or basketball. Baseball bored me to death. Then I saw Enter the Dragon and signed up that week at the nearest kajukenbo school. —Bob Gomez

“In my younger years, I saw a taekwondo demonstration. As an adult, my daughter came home from a camp and told me one of her activities was karate. She asked if she could join the dojo, and a couple of weeks later, she asked me to get back into the martial arts and train with her.” —Wayne McKay

“I transferred to a new high school where I was younger and smaller (and smarter) than most of the other kids in my class. I was picked on and bullied a lot. I got tired of it, so when I got a job, I began taking taekwondo classes. I fell in love with all the martial arts and have been training and expanding my knowledge ever since. (Needless to say, after getting into one fight in high school where I actually fought back, I didn't get picked on again).” —Scott Rowe

“A number of things led me to that path. I had always been interested, and when I got to college, I needed one more class credit to get financial aid. That started it all. Eight years later, I hold rank in a couple of different styles. Before that, I was bullied relentlessly as a middle-school kid, beat up daily. That always stuck with me. It has been a great confidence builder and great for discipline. I am able to take so much of that into my roll as a church youth director, as well.” —Greg Segda

“My sons wanted to learn karate. Both were at a very young age and were a bit scared, so I told them I'd go with them for a couple weeks to get them started. I was hooked from the first session, and many many years later, I am still going.” —Duane Ahlgrain

“It was a mix of seeing my first Bruce Lee movie and a lot of trouble with bullies in middle and high school, especially with group-home students in school. Bruce gave me hope and love for the martial arts at a very difficult time in my young life. Bruce was also a very big inspiration to me at the age of 11 when I went through a very rare back disease that almost crippled me from the neck down. Looking back on my life, if it wasn’t for Bruce Lee and the martial arts, I don’t think I would be alive today.” —Robert Dill

“Watching the growth and maturity in my kids inspired me to jump into my first class. I now hold a first degree and am on my journey for a second. BEST decision I ever made.” —Tania Taylor

“My saintly mother! I had been jumped by 12 fellows and beat to the point that I was one giant bruise. Mom took me to Don Coslet's dojo and asked him to teach me how to fight to protect myself. She then told me I was going to learn karate. Now 38 years later, I am teaching others how to defend themselves and become martial artists. Much respect to sensei Don Coslet and my mother Lucy Mills, my inspiration.” —John Mills

“My dad started teaching me to box when I was 3 or 4, so I grew up in (literally) a 'Fighting Irish' family. At 5, a neighbor signed me up for shotokan karate, hoping I'd get over my crippling shyness. I wasn't shy in the dojo!”

“I wanted to try everything after that. At 16, I started working as a bouncer and started adding to my skills: aikido, judo, butokukan karate. When I started working as a bodyguard, I studied krav maga and systema, trying to streamline and quicken my defenses.”

“I'm a really petite woman (5 feet 2 inches tall), but I've successfully defended myself against multiple, larger and armed attackers several times; it's shown me that I can never relax my guard and encourages me to keep training hard.” —Kiri Ballach

To everyone who wrote to us on Facebook, thank you. If you haven’t shared your martial arts inspiration story yet, come join us at www.facebook.com/BlackBeltMagazine. We’d love to hear from you!

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Kenneth Baillie: TKD has changed over the years. WTF changed to traditional TKD at our school because our chief instructor didn't like the Olympic status. He said the sport detracts from the tradition. We had a certain rivalry even back then with ITF. The two can merge, I believe. There are differences but anything can be achieved. Positives are easy to find here!

Boston George Legaria: I'm not a TKD practitioner but I've been in martial arts for 26 years (kyokushin, muay Thai and krav maga), and from what I can see, a solution is for those two organizations to come together and reform the art so it can stay relevant. In combat sports, a lot of people leave TKD in favor of BJJ or muay Thai, while in self-defense people leave TKD for styles like Russian sambo, krav maga or Keysi Method. As for a business model, they need to leave the black belt mill because even though that gets parents interested so they can show their little one's "progress" on FB, in the long run, TKD loses its credibility when people see a 6 year old "master."

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