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12-year-old youngest third-degree black belt member in American Martial Arts Institute

Jennifer Sprouse • Jul 2, 2012 at 6:48 AM

Most 12-year-old boys are active in maybe one or two sports a year and in their downtime enjoy sitting by the TV playing video games.

Shea Brobeck may follow suit with most of those activities, but not every boy his age can say they have two national American Martial Arts Institute Taekwondo titles.

Shea started his journey with Taekwondo seven years ago when Olson’s Martial Arts masters went to Towne Acres Elementary School and showcased some of their moves to Shea’s kindergarten class.

“I thought it looked really cool, so I wanted to try it,” he said.

Shea’s mom, Linda, said she toured the martial arts school before enrolling her son and said she was impressed by the positive atmosphere, as well as how the instructors interacted with the kids in their classes.

Shea started out in the cub class, a class he said was easy for him at the time, and even took home some first-place wins against kids older than him, as well as those who had been taking classes longer.

“I remember I came home from this tournament with two first-place trophies and ... they were almost as tall as me,” he said.

Seven years later, he has continued to take home winnings from tournaments, but his last couple awards were significant to AMAI history. Shea, now 12 years old, traveled to the AMAI Destin Nationals at the Emerald Coast Convention Center at Fort Walton Beach, Fla., to receive the Overall Title in the 3rd Degree Black Belt 10 and 11 Division, as well as the title in Taekwondo in the 3rd Degree Black Belt 10 and 11 Division, making him the youngest thirddegree black belt member in the AMAI.

“Being one of the point leaders, it’s not just this school, it’s all of the schools. It’s a pretty big accomplishment,” he said. “I was just really nervous because there’s just a ton of people watching. You get to walk down this big row shaking all of the masters’ hands and receive your award and it’s pretty cool.”

Linda explained the awards her son received were for last year’s competition year and the tournament they went to in Destin kicks off the new season each year. Along with receiving his two national awards, Shea competed in the 12 and 13 Division at this year’s season opener, taking home two medals for first place in power board breaking and second place in points sparring.

“This was actually the AMAI’s first year of doing a full tournament circuit and awarding champions, so he’s with the initial class,” she said. “At the end of the season, whoever in their division has the most points is a champion.”

Linda, in charge of computing at the tournaments and calculating the points for this year’s champion, said she was shocked and excited to see her son’s name at the top of her list. Originally, she said she was just going to ride down with whoever the points leader was, but when she found out it was Shea, she and her husband, Marne, along with Shea’s older sister, Cami, decided to make a family trip out of it.

While Shea has come a long way in a short amount of time, an age requirement with the AMAI will prevent him from achieving his fourth-degree belt anytime soon.

“At this point, he’s in a holding pen. He cannot get his fourthdegree until he’s 18 years old,” Linda said. “So, the fact that he got his third-degree at such a young age, he’s kind of stuck for awhile.”

In the meantime, Shea, now moved up into the adult class, will train slowly for his fourth-degree, as well as continue to compete in other tournaments.

“The tournament gives him another outlet to achieve something,” Linda said. “He still works hard and he’ll still keep moving forward.”

Shea said he also enjoys playing other sports such as baseball and soccer.

When asked if playing multiple sports helps with his skills in Taekwondo, Shea said he feels it’s the other way around.

“I think if anything Taekwondo really helped with the other sports because it helps with power in baseball, because you do a lot of pushups and sit-ups and a bunch of workouts,” he said. “It also helps at soccer because when you’re kicking... it helps build muscle in your leg and soccer you’re pretty much running the whole time. It (the leg muscle) gets really tired and it really helps with endurance.”

Shea said as of right now he doesn’t foresee giving up Taekwondo anytime soon.

“I want to keep doing it,” he said. “It’s really fun. I think that anyone would really enjoy Taekwondo.”

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