The Karate Kid of Brashier


Sabrina at the beach shore in Umag, Croatia (Sarah McHenry).

Discipline, character, responsibility, integrity, and so many other traits are required to be a part of a dojo. Sabrina Martinez is one of many teenagers that practices karate on a regular basis, but she is one of a kind. Humility is also a part of her personality because, little do people at Brashier know, Sabrina is a Junior Pan American Champion and USA Female Junior Athlete of the Year.

“I actually started because my brother started karate before me, so he got an invitation from one of his friends to come do the class, and we were there all the time… My mom got me to do a travel class, and what’s funny is I actually hated my first class, but my mom made me keep doing it. She made me do it because I would just sit there and so she said, ‘Well if you’re going to be here, you might as well do something,'” says Martinez.

Martinez began to enjoy her classes when she saw that she was excelling at the sport. She started in 2012, and has been going strong ever since, making friends and learning new ideas and moves every day.

“I went through the ranks – the rankings we have, belts and stuff- pretty quickly. I got my black belt at the same time as people who had been doing [karate] seven or eight years… In the sport aspect, I had a little bit of talent, but it came with a lot of hard work,” shares Martinez.

The insightful lessons taught Martinez to take the compliments, but also to work for her achievements. She gives her all at every tournament that she attends and inspires others to do the same.

“I do work at my Dojo, and I really like it. I think the relationship and atmosphere in it is very family-like; we’re all very comfortable with each other. We take it as a personal initiative to get to know each other, so any new families that come in are not just new families, they are like a new part of our community,” states Martinez.

The beginnings for Sabrina’s karate career showed a promising future. It gives perspective to how much dedication a sport, which gives the opportunity to travel around the world, demands.

“My first karate tournament out of the country was Bolivia, and that was one of my most memorable ones. I got gold at that one; then, I went to Indonesia [and Croatia]. Now, this year I went to Argentina, and I’m going to Spain and Curaçao,” says Martinez.

The reasons why a sport or hobby might appeal to a person may vary, yet Martinez has concrete beliefs in what an ideal sport is. She firmly believes karate is the ideal sport.

“It’s like a combination of a team sport and an individual sport. You have your individual growth, but you still have your family there with you, supporting you, so I don’t have to rely on other people for my performance, but they help me improve… I also get to hit people and kick them in the face,” says Martinez.

Training may vary from dojo to dojo, depending on how the Sensei teaches and what methods are used. Overall, there are foundational training methods that many dojos agree upon and use across the country and other nations.

“There are two different ways that my training can go. It can go like a really intense learning session, where I am trying to acquire a new skill, and then it can be really carefree. Sometimes we have music on, and while we’re doing drills and stuff, it’s really fun and light-hearted. It’s still an intense training session, but it’s not as serious,” states Martinez.

If it is possible to coordinate with college work and karate all at once, Martinez is considering training for the 2020 Olympics.

“I am always a student before I’m an athlete, but karate will have a great impact on my college life. I will have to go to a lot of what we call K-1 Tournaments in which you accumulate points to go to the Olympics. I’m going to have to go to a lot of tournaments to be able to gain a lot of points to be able to go to the Olympics, and those tournaments are in different countries… [this is because] we don’t have any K-1’s in the United States. I have to be at lots of places and miss lots of time at school. I could do online classes, but I want to live on campus,” shares Martinez.

Not only does Martinez have to juggle practicing karate and school, but she also helps at the dojo that she trains at.

“Monday through Thursday, I work from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and then, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., I train. On Fridays, I go in at 4:30 p.m. and I train until 5:30 p.m., and then I work from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Then, I train from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm. Saturdays, I go to track at 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and then we have training from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.,” says Martinez.

Sabrina plans to graduate college with a degree in finance and accounting. This definite goal reflects her work ethic: always learn something new in every class, both academically and sports-wise. Her goal in karate is to always try to apply what she learns and still be interested while learning new things.

“There is always a possibility, there’s always a way out of something if you end up losing passion for it, [and] you shouldn’t continue doing that… It becomes only a burden on yourself… there are lots of times where I don’t feel like I want to keep going, but I’m still passionate about [karate], which does keep me going,” shares Martinez.