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Macho Warriors: Interview with World Champion Martial Artist, Kathryn Tian

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Kathryn Tian is a 21-time sport karate and taekwondo world champion martial artist. In addition to being a member of Team USA on World Association of Karate and Kickboxing Organization (WAKO), and a member of USA Team for the World Martial Arts Games XVI, she is a nationwide professional junior athlete for Macho Martial Arts.


Kathryn's academic achievements are just as impressive as her martial arts achievements. In fact, she recently got accepted to Harvard University! Her talents and dedication to both martial arts and education are inspiring. We're honored to share her journey.

What is your experience and history with martial arts? When did you start practicing and why did you start?

Tian: I started martial arts at age 5 because I was bullied at school. After about five years, I got my black belt at age 10. My first world champion titles I won in 2011 at the ATA World Championships in Little Rock, Arkansas. The next year, I received another two ATA world champion titles. Afterwards, I started training with Christine Bannon-Rodrigues in Warwick, RI in late 2012. In 2013, I earned two ATA world champion titles, a NASKA world champion title, and a KRANE Overall Grand Champion award. That year, I also moved to Los Angeles, California. In 2014, I received four ATA world champion titles and a WAKO world champion title in weapons at Rimini, Italy. In 2015 and 2016, I received another three ATA world champion titles each year.  Furthermore, I also earned a WOMAA world champion title in Essenbach, Germany. Throughout this journey, I have had tremendous support from Coach Christine, ATA Master Justin Garofano, ATA Master Robert Gast, my mother, and countless other friends and family members.

Was it difficult juggling studies and training?

Tian: It is definitely not an easy task balancing martial arts and my studies. It was especially hard to do so back in 9th and 10th grade, years that I had to transition into new campuses (I moved to LA my 9th grade year, and my school is divided into two campuses-7th-9th grade in the lower school, 10th-12th grade in the upper). To juggle everything, I plan out every hour of my day to manage my time. Below is an example of my hourly schedule after school:
3-3:30 Nap
3:30-4:30 Math A6
4:30-5:30 Geo 14.9-13
5:30-6:30 Phys 9.2 (ch 23.9-13)
6:30-7 File papers
7-7:30 Dinner
7:30-8 Summarize math
8-10:30 Train
10:30-11 Break + shower + tea
11-12 Phys practice + study math
12-12:30 Prep sleep
12:30-1:30 Vocab WS p. 143?
1:30 Sleep  
If I finish a task before the allotted time is up, I’ll use the extra time as free time or nap more.

How has being a member of Team Macho helped you as a martial artist?

Tian: Team Macho has given me an amazing group of friends and feeling of camaraderie. Getting to see Coach Christine, Dante, and Ryker just gives me another reason to love competitions even more.

How has your successes as a martial artist contributed to your successes as a student?

Tian: Martial arts has given me the gift of self-confidence, which I carry with me everywhere, including school. Additionally, competing frequently allows me to more easily overcome challenges and failures.

What will you be studying at University?

Tian: I will double major in statistics and molecular biology. 

Being a top competing martial artist, studying hard in school, preparing for the SATs and getting accepted into Harvard is not an easy feat! How did you overcome the many challenges you faced along the way?

Tian: Throughout every challenge, I always try to look at the positive side and to never forget to be grateful for the wonderful people and opportunities I have. I also try not to take everything too seriously, not letting one event or failure set me back.

Outside of martial arts and school, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Tian: In my free time, I like to surf the Internet (mostly on Buzzfeed and YouTube), cooking, and dancing to Kpop videos (though it looks more like flailing around in my room).

Moving forward, will martial arts continue being a major part of your life?

Tian: Definitely-not only will I continue the karate and taekwondo I currently practice, I even plan to start learning wushu later this year.