began experiencing leg pain. It was reasonable to believe he’d merely strained a muscle during his heavy training in preparation for the event. So as most athletes would do, he backed off from training to recover. The pain disappeared. Unfortunately, it returned. It was cancer. After a routine ten-year-old well-child visit to his doctor, an x-ray, and biopsy at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis, it was determined that Jonathan suffered from Ewing’s Sarcoma—a rare type of cancer affecting the bones. The tumor was found in about six inches of his left femur bone. Chemotherapy was the first step to control the tumor followed by surgery, on January 2nd, 2013, to remove the cancerous bone. Surgical screws, plates, and a cadaver bone now fill the space that was once healthy. Jonathan hit this challenge with the same determination he spars with, and positive attitude he exerts while breaking boards. He’s been relentless about continuing good grades at school and keeping life as normal as possible, which amazes his parents and doctors. “He goes to school, when he's not in the hospital, and has kept up with his work, which is pretty much unheard of. They (the doctors) say most kids can't handle the treatment schedule and studies, and just skip a year of school,” says Dana, Jonathan’s mom. But for a middle grader in love with hot wings and spinach pizza yet turns his nose up to cheese and potatoes, Jonathan seems set to be true to himself, firm in his own ways. His family attributes his outlook and progress to his martial arts training, tackling each element head on—a never quit attitude, inspiring those around him. “Don’t worry,” Jonathan has been known to say. “I’m going to be just fine.” He believes cancer came into his life for a reason and also dismisses the doctor’s caution that he might not be able to return to martial arts. Jonathan surely has learned to channel that toddler anger and hyper energy into something tangible and motivating—an example for youth athletes and adults everywhere. Extraction of bone material can take a year, even more, to fully heal, giving the patient full mobility, strength, and usage of the limb. Jonathan has been unable to train since August due to weakening of the bone the biopsy left behind and how Chemotherapy slows down the healing process. He’s a martial artist on metal crutches, right now, but continues to visit classes and assist when he can. Turning eleven years old this summer will bring Jonathan his probationary 3rd degree test. He’s determined to get back to training and be ready. He can’t wait.
Shawn Eisensmith Shawn Eisensmith who will be turning 10 this April, he began karate classes back in early 2011. He tried football and swimming in the past but neither sport really inspired him. His parents talked about signing him up for some basic karate classes. Shawn comes from a family of black belt achievers in Shaolin Kempo karate, so they felt that he should give it a try. He was really excited to begin, especially since he wanted to follow in his Dad's footsteps. He enjoyed the classes so much and has been involved in the martial arts ever since. Shawn participated in a winter camp at his local martial arts school where he learned a basic katana form. He fell in love with the sword after that and it quickly became his favorite traditional weapon. Shawn's instructor at the time saw how hard he was working on this form and created a tournament style form for him to compete with. He joined the school's competition team and practiced to prepare for his first tournament. Shawn went to his first tournament in the middle of 2011 and didn't do too well. He tried his best and we gave him a lot of encouragement to keep working hard and next time he might do better. Shawn would then practice after school and on weekends to perfect his traditional kata and weapon forms. Shawn then went to his first NASKA tournament, the New England Open where he won first place in traditional weapons and in point sparring. That same night Shawn and his parents watched a team on stage from their home state of Connecticut called 100 Percent. It was then they made the decision to join that school which would train him in the Open/Creative divisions that he wanted to compete in. Not many schools in the area had instructors experienced in the creative forms aspect of martial arts as 100% did. Shawn had to start from the very beginning again, as a white belt, once we switched schools. He quickly moved through the ranks and in one year became advanced. 100 Percent has a performance training program which helps competitors work on their open forms and weapons forms for upcoming tournaments. Shawn trained real hard learning a new sword and Kama form along with a musical form and two non-weapon forms. Shawn competed this past year in KRANE and NASKA tournaments and became KRANE National Champion in all of his competitive divisions. Shawn admires and inspires to accomplish what these martial artists have achieved in their competition careers. Shawn was also able to work with Kalman Csoka recently on a double sword form. He really admires Mr. Csoka's determination and relentless hard work and hopes to become a great weapons competitor like Mr. Csoka is. To date Shawn has won over 150 martial art competitive events. He is now training most days of the week to prepare for the upcoming tournament season.