VOICES: Martial arts saved my life

At six years old, my life forever changed.

When I was six years old, I was abused in my home.

Also, at age six years old, my parents enrolled me martial arts, which has been and still is the brightest light of my life.

My parents started me in martial arts initially for fitness and to do something different. As I began learning self-defense, it was a life-changing outlet for me.

I progressed throughout the ranks to earn my black belt. Today, I am a Grandmaster 7th Degree Black Belt.

I have competed and coached all over the world, including having fought as a US Olympic Taekwondo National Team member for over 20 years in over 30 countries.

In 2000, I opened my own school in honor of my mom who died in 1999.

I was in my 20′s when she died and felt like I lost my best friend. I dropped out of school and bartered and sold what I had to in order to open my school called Total Taekwondo and Fitness almost exactly one year after she died.

Now I’m proud to say I will be going on 24 years of owning Total Taekwondo and Fitness come January.

I’m able to use martial arts to empower others and help them live life unafraid. That’s the story I choose to tell and live.

I’m most proud of being able to have another story to tell about age six. Martial arts saved my life.

Christina Bayley is owner and head instructor at Total Taekwondo & Fitness in Kettering.

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