From the victor’s epic tale to the outcast’s lament, the stories of life’s journey never cease. As biographies are built, the martial arts provide an unparalleled armor of honor, service, and courage to not just trudge through the valleys, but vanquish great mountains. Join us and witness the unconquerable spirit of incredible martial artists, whose journeys expand the vision of all who listen.
Austin Mills is a nine-year old with serious things on his mind. But the loss of his left arm isn’t one of them.
Austin was born in 2003 without part of his left arm just below the elbow. Although he uses a prosthetic limb to ride a bike, he prefers to not wear it for everyday activities. His open-minded parents Lacye and Donald Mills have always let him try any kind of sport. But with Donald’s deployment to Saudi Arabia as a Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force, Lacye was left juggling both children and their extracurricular activities.
“It’s a lot of work to keep up with everything,” says Lacye. “I was looking for something less strenuous. Austin had expressed an interest in karate, so we looked into a school. He’s always been able to overcome any kind of situation when he’s played sports or been active. So we just thought, ‘Let’s go for it.’”
When Lacye enrolled him in the Earl Harris Karate Academy, she was specific with the instructors to treat him like any other kid. The school was supportive and surprised with Austin’s attitude.
“I was impressed with him when he started, because despite his condition, he still wanted to go out there and give it his all,” says his instructor Master Keon Pinkney. “When he trains, he trains hard. He doesn’t hold back.”
A very forward thinking parent, Lacye was more concerned about how to modify the gear Austin would wear versus how he might get hit.
“I was a little hesitant at first, because we didn’t know how he was going to be able to do the forms and participate in sparring. But he adapted. He’s had four tournaments so far and has taken a fourth in forms and a third in sparring.”
With the support of his instructors and family, Austin’s confidence has grown while slowly shedding a timid and shy image. Lacye sees this personality come to life when he’s in class.
“His self-confidence has grown by leaps and bounds,” says Lacye. “He’s always been a quiet and shy kid. But once he’s on the mat doing forms or sparring, the focus and intensity is there. He commands attention. You can tell he’s really passionate about it. He’s really in his element.”
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