For some people, the journey to finding themselves and discovering their true passions takes a lifetime, but not for sophomore David Mejia. Mejia started karate six years ago, and at age 10, fell in love with this martial art. Mejia discovered karate in elementary school when his parents were looking for an activity for him. During that time, Mejia watched the movie The Karate Kid, and because he liked the film so much, he decided to give karate a try.
From the time Mejia started, his passion for karate stayed. “I like karate because it is foreign. It is my outlet for stress and my way to express myself,” Mejia said.
Like other activities, martial arts comes with benefits as well as challenges. Mejia said that discipline is a major thing that karate brings, along with fitness and health. “Some challenges of karate is that it is very technical. You always have to fix the small details, and that requires a lot of skill,” Mejia said.
Since Mejia is a black belt and practices two hours at night, karate is a major part of his life. “I think about karate a lot, it is constantly in my mind when I am at school.” Mejia said. “It can get in the way of me focusing when I have to balance both school and karate. When I am at school, I sometimes think about karate and vice versa. During the weekends though, both karate and school occupies my mind.”
Mejia’s friend, sophomore Isabella Breton, respects Mejia’s hard work ethic. “I can tell he put a lot of effort and time to get to where he is now with karate,” Breton said.
Sophomore Isabella Sanbor agrees that Mejia works hard. “David has always been really committed,” Sanbor said.
Besides his passion for karate, he also likes to play soccer in his free time, but definitely still likes karate best and that motivates him. “I am motivated to continue karate because it is my strongest activity that I am best at. I was never particularly good at soccer so I am so happy I found karate and hope to go the furthest I can with it,” Mejia said. “Everyday I come back from training, I know I worked hard and did my best. The happiness that working hard and tournaments every three weeks bring me, keeps me motivated to master karate.”
Mejia has recently won first place in a Los Angeles Open tournament but his biggest achievement was winning third place in the World Championships back in October in Mexico. At a karate seminar in LA, Mejia had the opportunity to train with the official Spanish National karate team. “It was a great experience to work with professionals and my idol,” he said.
In his future, Mejia hopes to be able to represent the USA karate team at the Olympics in Tokyo. He hopes to get a medal at the Olympics, but he says representing the U.S. team will be honor enough. Once he reaches the age of 35 where athletes cannot do karate anymore, Mejia plans to teach karate instead.
Looking back at how far he has come, Mejia said, “There is a stigma that karate is all about kicking and punching bags, no. In karate there are tournaments and always a goal to reach for. In school we learn, but there is no physical incentive that karate tournaments have like medals. In karate, you get to learn and improve. Winning is just the extra bonus.”