Originally aired on KLEW - December 23, 2021
LEWISTON, Idaho — Over the past nine years, Sydni stocks has become a trained fighter, interested in everything from karate to mixed martial arts, but she things didn't start off this way.
"I was actually bullied when I was into elementary school," she said. “When I rode the bus, I had a kid that would pick on me, and he actually liked to hit me.”
The bullying progressed to the point where she stopped going to school. Her mom’s friend recommended she take up martial arts, and Sydni started training soon after.
Sydni excelled in karate, Earning her black belt about four years ago. For her, the greatest thing about the sport is the boost in confidence.
"It pushes out of your comfort zone," she said. “And not only did it push me out of my comfort zone in multiple ways, it helps you become a leader.”
Karate's mixture of athleticism and creative discipline is about so much more than combat.
"The idea behind Karate is not even just to defend yourself, it’s to build confidence so you don’t have to,” she said.
At the age of 17, She's already brought home a handful of medals from the world karate federation championships. These days, she's already giving back to other kids.
"To be able to build confidence in themselves whether its through karate or some other outlet, its definitely very motivational and rewarding," she said.
She's an instructor at martial arts America in Lewiston, Balancing teaching, training and online school at Idaho Virtual Academy. She says a lot of her students have faced the same bullying she did.
"I have had parents reach out and tell me that their kids are struggling with some of the same issues I did growing up," she said. “ I look more into helping some of them, give them a little bit more extra attention. Just to make sure that their confidence is especially built.”
As a black belt, being a role model is a requirement, And Sydni has certainly stepped up to the challenge.
“You also have to be presentable to the community, and show what a black belt looks like,” she said.
To learn more about Idaho Virtual Academy, visit idva.k12.com.