When Christian started taking Tae Kwon Do classes at age seven, it was mostly out of admiration for his television martial arts heroes—the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. “I was definitely focused on the kicks,” he recalled. By 13 Christian had earned his black belt at US Tae Kwon Do College in Arlington.
“Because of martial arts I tried to be as polite and humble as I could,” Christian explained. “I didn’t get in trouble in school. I listened to the instructors and tried to learn as much as I could from them.” When his contract for classes ended after he earned his black belt, however, Christian decided to take a break. He focused on playing baseball for a couple years.
“When I started martial arts again at 15, I was more focused on discipline, and trying to regain the skills I had developed,” Christian explained. What kept him coming back to the mat at that point was more the people he was training with than the particular techniques he was learning. By then, Master Emerson was teaching at US Tae Kwon Do College, and invited Christian to participate in his first tricking class. “The camaraderie and being on a team is what I loved. That spirit really enhanced the martial arts. We were always pushing each other to do better.”
Even as he grew as a martial artist, Christian didn’t realize he was on the path to becoming an instructor himself. “I never would’ve guessed I would’ve ended up teaching,” he said. “But after that Master Emerson taught me and everything he ingrained in us, I wanted to help him out in any way I could. That’s how I became an instructor. He knew I could do it. He saw something in me I didn’t know was there.”
Now in his role as head instructor, Christian has the opportunity to train other teachers the way Master Emerson inspired him and to see new generations of kids grow into confident martial artists and young people. “I appreciate that there’s a sense of family and community here. There are a lot of martial arts schools that focus on teaching the classes, and that’s it. We teach life lessons through martial arts. I’m glad students are learning the techniques and how to protect themselves, but learning respect, discipline, focus, teamwork, and humility are just as important.”
“I love seeing them grow, seeing them struggle, seeing them happy,” he said. “It’s fulfilling to see how I can make a difference in these kids’ lives when I work with them. This is my calling. When you’re going to do something, you’ve got to put your heart into it, and this is my passion.”