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.
Lying beaten on the ground and looking up through swollen eyes, 12-year-old Robert Ingram saw approaching feet and readied himself for another blow from the gang of bullies. What came, though, was something that would alter his life forever.
“While I was still literally down on the ground, a classmate came over, helped me up, and gave me a card for one free karate lesson.”
Born with a cleft lip and palate, Robert—now 29—remembers being constantly harassed in elementary and middle school because of his “flat nose.”
“I was terrified to go to school,” Robert recalls. “And when I told my teacher what was going on, I was told not to tattle.”
And so, without the help of his teachers, there was little Robert could do that day 17 years ago when the group of boys attacked him after school.
“They were kicking me in the face, stabbing me with pencils, and hitting me with their book bags,” Robert says. “I ended up in the hospital.”
His challenges didn’t end there, but from the horrors of his ordeal, Robert received the card for one free karate lesson from his still-best friend Joey Kroom. He realizes now that “everything happens for a reason, and I’m no exception.”
Today, Robert is the owner and lead instructor at Alpha Dogs Martial Arts in Jacksonville, Florida, with state point-fighting and weapons championship titles. “Being in martial arts has changed me and reshaped my life beyond what anybody could imagine,” Robert says.
And although Robert doesn’t have to fight off bullies any more, he is fighting against them. Alpha Dogs Martial Arts hosts anti-bullying fundraisers to benefit stand4thesilent.com, an anti-bullying organization based out of Oklahoma.
And back in class, Robert teaches his students how to combat bullying with self-confidence.
“Don’t let your life be dictated by what other people think of you,” he tells them, speaking as one who knows first-hand the power of respecting oneself.
“Teaching anti-bullying … is a day-to-day issue, and being able to teach self-confidence to bullied kids is an especially rewarding experience for me,” Robert says. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
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