Bullied student was inspired to learn martial arts

Athlete specializes in kung fu, jiu jitsu and kickboxing in quest for improvement


Zeta Handy

Senior Matias Valle poses as if he were preparing for a fight.

Zeta Handy, Staff Writer

The individual nature of martial arts such as Kung Fu, kickboxing, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can obscure their competitive natures.

When you think about these hobbies you usually don’t think of them as a sport. But for senior Matias Valle, who is a second degree red belt in mixed martial arts, it’s more than just a hobby that he enjoys.

“Before I started training I had been in a couple of fights. I’d been jumped twice before and picked on because I was smaller and skinnier,” Valle said. “This was partly the reason why I started training to be able to defend myself. Now I definitely try to avoid conflict at all cost.”

Martial arts is a part of me and I plan to continue it, I don’t see a point where I’d want to stop practicing Martial Arts after high school.”

— Matias Valle

Valle said he started training when he was about 12 years old with his best friend Carter Palmer. They both trained side-by-side with each other throughout the years. Valle is three belts away from being a black belt at his school the Void.

He trains in mixed martial arts with a focus on Iron Mantis Kung Fu, Hawaiian Kempo kickboxing and Kore Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

At times, juggling the stress of work, injuries, school, and school wrestling, has made him want to quit, especially when he dislocated his elbow.  However, his determination to keep improving has kept him striving to further his skills.

“When I was training more often I’d put in about 6-7 hours a week,” Valle said.

The process of getting a black belt is difficult.  Students start out as a white belt, taking tests along the way to earn higher level belts. The tests involve fighting at higher rankings and performing stances correctly and on command.

Valle said sparring has helped him grow as a fighter and a person.

When he loses matches he sometimes feels upset and disappointed, but he sees these moments as learning opportunities. He dedicated himself to working twice as hard in his training.

Jeff Hughes, Valle’s instructor, said Matias has shown determination throughout his participation in learning martial arts.

“From the first time Matias first started and to where he is now, he definitely put in a lot of work,” Hughes said.

“Martial arts is a part of me and I plan to continue it, I don’t see a point where I’d want to stop practicing Martial Arts after high school,” Valle said.