Stressing importance of self-defense

Forty-four years ago today, I made one of the best decisions of my life: I began training in the martial arts.

Having been punched in the mouth the day before, I knew I had no idea how to defend myself, and the thought of fighting back was as foreign to me as college calculus.

Throughout the years of blood, sweat, broken bones and ripped hamstring muscles, I have trained with and have trained countless men, women and children.

All of us were, to some degree, seeking the same goal: the want to defend ourselves and to not feel like victims anymore.

My belt has gotten darker as my hair has grown lighter, but the want to fight back still burns inside of me.

Today, our society talks about the want to stop bullies and, instead of seeking out those who can teach them how to fight back, they hold rallies and wear T-shirts as if that will solve the problem.

As a result of my desire never be a victim of someone wanting to punch me in the face again, I have earned black belts in three different federations, own and operate my own karate school and now have more trophies for fighting in karate tournaments than I know what to do with.

All of this was the product of one punch to my face during a pick up football game some 44 years ago today.

Stephen Smith

Altoona

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