Inspirational Stories

Tabitha Viselli Started Her 4S Martial Arts Journey Despite Limitations

Tabitha wanted to train in the martial arts, but didn’t know if she could because she was deaf.  She started training at our 4S Ranch martial arts location back in 2011. The instructors put whiteboards up inside the school and helped her by writing down notes and using visuals as much as possible. Eventually she began helping out with the kids’ classes and is now an instructor helping out on the mat.

Here are some things in her own words about how the art has impacted her:

“I am now a 3rd Black belt, and I am Deaf. West Coast Martial Arts Academy has had a huge impact on my life. Being deaf didn’t stop me from training. I’d say it’s even saved my life. How? Two reasons: I was once in a bad bike accident, I was not able to react when a car was coming at me. I ended up getting hurt pretty badly and broke a few bones. With training, I’ve actually become much more aware of my surroundings. I can react faster and there have been some close calls, but like dodging punches, I’ve been able to avoid them every time. Secondly, I hate exercise. Especially things like running, but I know it’s important for my health. So how did I make exercise fun?  With Martial arts! I love West Coast Martial Arts in 4S Ranch. Martial Arts requires a lot of physical activity, which is perfect for me. So If I want to do Martial arts, I got to do the exercise!  It also takes a lot of focus, you need to be serious and put in the hard work.  That’s why martial arts saves me daily.  Also Bonus: learning martial arts would greatly benefit you: Self-Defense, Health, discipline, and mental strength!”

-Tabitha Viselli, Rancho Bernardo Martial Artist and Instructor

Caroline Di Battista Always Wanted To Achieve Her Black Belt, Despite Multiple Injuries She Was Able To Achieve Her Goal!

Caroline started training at the West Coast Martial Arts in 4S Ranch in 2016.  She had originally learned martial arts in Europe but had to stop her training early on.  Since then she always wanted to say she had reached the rank of black belt.  She trained very diligently for years, maintaining diligence and focus despite enduring a hip and knee replacement.  In 2021 we are proud to say she achieved her 1st Degree Black Belt.  Way to go Caroline!

In September 2016 I embarked on one of the toughest physical challenges of my life… karate.

 My five-year journey to black belt was a challenge and a struggle at times with persistent knee injuries, back problems and a full hip replacement. There’s a banner hanging up in the school with the quote “A black belt is just a white belt that never gave up”; this is who I wanted to be, I wanted to go all the way.  Being a black belt is about commitment, staying the course, overcoming obstacles, and working hard. I wanted to prove to myself that I could stay the course and complete my journey to black belt. I wanted to lead by example and be a role-model to my kids by demonstrating what it takes to realize your goals, however difficult they may seem at times.

 Throughout my journey, I received so much support from the team of instructors at WCMAA and many of the other students.  They adapted to my injuries, they encouraged me to push myself (within my limits) and were there with me every step of my journey.  After 5 years, not only did I earn my black belt, I also gained a wonderful ‘karate’ family.”

-Caroline DiBattista

Hank Deutschendorf Was A 4S Ranch Martial Arts Instructor Who Used Martial Arts To Cope With His Mental Illness

One of West Coast Martial Arts Academy’s founding instructors was Hank Deutschendorf.  The year WCMAA was started in 4S Ranch Hank developed schizoaffective disorder.  This disorder is characterized by auditory and visual hallucinations.  Hank Deutschendorf knew the stigma behind his illness and never let any of his students know about his disease.  He took time off from teaching and training until he was able to return.

Teaching martial arts gave Hank’s life purpose.  The connections he made with his students, watching them grow, and experiencing them compete and win when his illness made life so difficult kept him going.  Hank decided to never have kids of his own because he did not want to pass on his illness but instead enjoyed making a difference in kids’ lives through the martial arts in 4S Ranch.  

Training martial arts in 4S Ranch got Hank out of his head and into his body.  The confidence martial arts gave him allowed him to teach despite hearing voices coming from the students and parents that hurt his self-esteem.  Despite the many voices he heard he was able to develop the self-control to ignore his voices and teach through them. If it wasn’t for Hank’s commitment to teaching and his school he would not have survived as long as he did.  

Hank’s illness was medication resistant, and he ran out of prescriptions that made a substantial difference.  Despite how his life ended we prefer to think of him and anyone we have lost to mental illness by how they lived.  If you or anyone else is thinking of harming themselves, please contact the suicide hotline (988).

If you or anyone you know has been bereaved by suicide, please reach out to Survivors of Suicide Loss for help.

“Despite our best efforts ,we can only influence our loved ones who suffer from mental illness.  As a community, however, I firmly believe we can lose less than 1 every 11 minutes.”

-Will Deutschendorf, Owner West Coast Martial Arts Academy 4S Ranch

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