Leo’s Story: Teenage Transformation through the Martial Arts


I’m a mother who has been taking martial arts classes at Calasanz Physical Arts since January of 2010.  During the cold winter, I noticed a young teenager named Leo, who trained with Calasanz on what seemed to be a daily basis. Leo was a quiet kid who didn’t speak much.

Having two grown sons of my own, it was very natural for me to be concerned for Leo. I tried to be friendly and say hello on occasion but I got no response. I tried to rationalize an explanation for his behavior. I thought, well, teenage boys are not very chatty or the days were so dark and cold that maybe Leo suffered from the “winter blues.”

Five months later, I found myself working out with Leo on the upper deck at Calasanz dojo. I expected the usual silent treatment, but on this day, he actually said “hello.” I was in shock! I was even more surprised when I saw this boy hit the bag with strong, precise, kicks and punches.  I was so impressed that I asked him to demonstrate some kicks in slow motion. For the next 20 minutes, not only did Leo patiently show me how to execute these kicks, but he also took the time to explain the mechanics of each technique for my benefit. I saw a major change in Leo. He was now a secure, well-mannered, disciplined young man who was highly skilled in the martial arts. 

I mentioned my experience to Calasanz and it was then that I learned more about Leo’s journey. Leo joined Calasanz about a year ago at the age of 14.  Leo had some difficulty when he first joined but Calasanz was confident that he could help. He’s worked with kids like Leo before and knew exactly what to do. With a lot of patience and amazing coaching skills, Calasanz worked with Leo every day.

A year later, Leo now teaches an adult martial arts class at Calasanz. He is an inspiration for anyone who comes into contact with him.  Who would have known that a year of martial arts training would have yielded such amazing results?

The martial arts are not just about developing the body; a good instructor and supportive environment can also bring out the spirit of the individual. What emerged was a strong, courageous, and confident young man. Martial art training is not about producing the “ultimate fighting machine”… but rather producing a person of great character. As a mother, I can only imagine how proud Leo’s parents are of his transformation.

Here is more video of Leo:

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