What made you get into martial arts?
I come from a Japanese household, and I grew up watching a lot of Martial Arts films. As a child, I used to emulate the actors and always wanted to learn it. I was always fascinated with the courage, discipline, and philosophy of martial artists. I love movement, and started taking dance classes young. I see a lot of aspects of dance in Martial Arts. Both require a lot of coordination, balance, timing, proper form, body awareness, and understanding of energy efficiency. The two are quite different in ways, yet they really do have many aspects that are congruent. Dance has helped my martial arts practice and vice versa. Inevitably, martial arts and dance are an expression of oneself through movement. The other aspect of martial arts that I find appealing, is that it has really built up my self confidence, self discipline, and have found it very empowering. It’s a great outlet that provides catharsis, and it makes my body and mind stronger.

Tell us about your journey/background/accomplishments
I was born in Colorado and I love it here! I have always been very artistic and love being physically active. When I was 8 years old, I started my classical dance training. I fell in love with expressing myself through movement. Over the years I have studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, musical theater, breakdance/hip hop, river dance, flamenco, Brazilian samba, and belly dance. I’ve also studied Taekwondo, and Brazilian Capoeira, before coming to High Altitude MA.

In 2012, I received my degree from the University of Colorado Denver with a B.S. in Recording Technology and Vocal Performance. After I graduated, I spent 5 months in South America. I was able to study dance with legendary instructors, and I taught several workshops and performed in Peru and Bolivia. In the past few years I have been lucky enough to travel to 15 different countries, and perform in most of them. I feel travel teaches a person a lot about themselves, other cultures, and other ways of life. I love to take myself outside of my comfort zone, and embrace new challenges. When traveling to poorer countries, I experienced so much beauty from the people I encountered. I was shown many examples of warmth, love, and generosity from people that didn’t have nearly much as we have here in America. Travel has given me a new perspective on life, taught me a lot about myself, and provided me a with deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for all that I have.

In 2015 I started touring with Bellydance Evolution, which is a premier world famous dance company. My first tour with them was on the East Coast. I had the opportunity to perform at the Jazz at Lincoln center in NYC, which is a historical venue that has housed legends such as Miles Davis, and Ella Fitzgerald. In the spring of 2015, I toured with BDE again in Europe. We performed in Germany, Italy, Austria, and Switzerland. This was yet another challenging, but rewarding experience. Touring is not easy. The rehearsals are long and intense, travel is hard on the body, accommodations can be uncomfortable, it’s hard to eat healthy, and there is a lot of pressure to perform well when it’s show time. Regardless, it was such an amazing experience. I loved the challenge to keep myself healthy and mentally strong. When faced with this kind of pressure and adversity you really get to see what you’re made of. It was an amazing honor to be in a large scale production, and to be part of a vision created by world class performing artists.

In the summer of 2015 I entered a competition in Las Vegas, and won the title of “The Ultimate Belly dancer.” In the summer of 2016 I won the title of “Pro Fusion Soloist” and was runner up for the “Pro Soloist” category in Orlando, Florida. Competing has been very important for my growth not only as a dancer and an artist, but as a person. I feel that my training at HAMA has been a huge component to my success in these competitions. I have been blessed to be around high level athletes and instructors. Seeing what preparation goes into fighting has changed my approach to competing as a performing artist. I think the biggest component that I took from watching fighters in fight camp is their mental preparation. I have learned a lot about sports psychology techniques at the gym, and have implemented them into my competitions. There is a particular work ethic and discipline that goes into preparation for competing. These have been invaluable tools that I have picked up from my training at HAMA.

I obtained my 200 hour RYT, and have been teaching yoga at High Altitude MA since the winter of 2015. I discovered that I have a deep passion for it. I initially enrolled in Yoga training to address aspects of myself and body that needed healing. I didn’t really think about being a yoga instructor. However, I discovered that I LOVE teaching yoga. It’s been so fulfilling to see positive results and benefits that my students have acquired through their yoga practice with me. Not only has yoga healed me on many levels, but I have the opportunity to see others receive the same benefits from their personal practice. This has been one of my most rewarding endeavors.

Currently, I teach two belly dance classes, two yoga classes, and perform 5-10 belly dance shows a week. I have been training at High Altitude Martial Arts for a little over 2 years, and have had the honor of teaching my yoga classes there. I continue to learn and grow in my yoga practice, I have a belly dance instructional DVD coming out, and I am hoping to get back on the road again for more belly dance tours in 2017.

What is your goal as a coach?
My goal as a yoga instructor is to teach everyone in my class about their bodies and how to exist in it. We have so much power to heal ourselves, and create a healthy vehicle to experience our lives in. My goal is to inspire, empower, and help heal each individual in my classes. Yoga is a mind, body, soul connector. When these three components can be balanced, then having a happy, healthy life is much more tangible. My intent and focus as an instructor is based from this premise.

What makes High Altitude MA special?
High Altitude MA is SO unique and special. We have an amazing community of wonderful and talented people, and incredible programs taught by some of the best in the biz. I have cultivated amazing friendships with wonderful interesting people, and we have so much fun! Other enriching aspects that I have acquired here, is growth in my practice. It has been very empowering for me to see myself getting better, acquire technique, and have a stronger sense of understanding combat sports. The instructors here are world class. They are extremely good at inspiring and motivating each student to be their personal best. Through my training here, I have become stronger not only physically, but mentally as well. I’ve learned and grown exponentially as an individual, through training at this facility. It’s a great place to make friends, be part of a wonderful community, and become strong and healthy. High Altitude MA has contributed greatly in making me work hard everyday to be the best version of myself I can be. This place truly is a lighthouse.
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