The first time I met Barbi and her parents Anne and Paul was at the Vegas Martial Arts Supershow in July, 2017. I still remember how Anne circled our booth for three days drawn to our energy and spirit, which she said ultimately led her to signing up for our program as our licensee. Paul was reluctant to buy into yet another fitness program. After all, they already had Krav Maga and Kickboxing offered at McCoy's Action Karate school, but he could not refuse Anne and Barbi's enthusiasm.
Not even a year prior, Barbi and Anne where attacked at knifepoint by a car high-jacker, both ending up injured. Anne had several knife cuts on her arm which had to be sewn, and Barbi was violently thrown out of the moving car while still being fastened to her seatbelt. The severe head injuries Barbi suffered left her with both Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But, internal wounds were apparent even a year later, when I met them.
Barbi was withdrawn and was on occasion having a hard time expressing her thoughts, and sometimes experiencing a burst of emotions, leaving her feeling overwhelmed. She was fearful to step back onto the karate mat and teach again. In many ways she resembled a beautiful vase that has been broken and whose pieces were being slowly glued back together.
Just like in Kintsugi, an ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pieces with gold-dusted epoxy, leaving the pottery even more beautiful than the original, accenting the cracks instead of hiding or disguising them. Kintsugi art, influenced by wabi-sabi, the Japanese philosophy, recognizes and appreciates the beauty in the flawed or imperfect.
And just like the mended vase, Barbi's scars are what make her beautiful. With love and support from her parents, students and our KHR sisters, she found the courage to be vulnerable and share her story that has already touched so many lives.
Within only 8-weeks with the KHR program, she lost over 20 lbs. We watched her not only heal, but thrive, inspiring many along the way. Her encouraging posts and dedicated instruction have helped many women heal and feel empowered again. She continues to lead and empower women, motivating them to become better versions of themselves, and to find their voice. We are so very proud of the woman she is and the hard selfless work she has put into to helping others. Her testimony can be read below.
We are so proud of you Barbi! And we love you very much!
"Hippopotamuses are one of my favorite animals. They love to play in the water as they soak in the sun. A little-known fact about them is that they are extremely energy efficient. Though they're not terrifying to behold, they are one of the most dangerous animals that can be found in the wild. There’s so much to respect and admire about the hippo, once you look past their awkwardness and their scary jowls. I often find myself relating to the hippopotamus. This is not because I view myself as overweight, but rather that my real power can be hidden in an unexpected form. What I have learned from Katarina’s HIIT&RUN program has brought back into my life something that an attacker recently threatened to take away.
It was an attack by knifepoint that I could explain in vivid detail, yet the unembellished facts are what’s important at this time. A young man had hit rock bottom, and unfortunately, my mother and I became caught up in his downward spiral as he attempted to take our vehicle. What he did not know or expect was that both of us had been training in the martial arts for years; since 1989. Fast forward to 2016, when the attack occurred, and those habits and beliefs saved our lives (even while possibly restarting his). We left that assault each in our own ambulance. My mother had to have her arm sewn as some muscles and tissue were cut. As for me, I received staples in the head, stitches on the top of my IT band, and in my hamstring. Unfortunately, something was overlooked by the doctors- the number of times my head had been rocked. I was violently thrown out of the car and dragged as I hung from the seat belt for a few car lengths before I was alert again and was able to roll out of it.
This incident caused a reboot in my life. Meeting Katarina and the KHR team about a year after the incident occurred, allowed for rebuilding to take place within me. At the point that we had met, I was suffering from mild-TBI and PTSD. Out of pain came beauty, like a phoenix - it’s something I’ve always believed in and it has brought me the hope to keep going despite the giant difficulties surrounding me. Through my participation in the KHR program, I was and still am consistently being restored to my purpose through the truths, grace, and hope that feed into my personal protection. This is not just of the body, but of the mind and spirit as well. I had forgotten that associating with the hippopotamus was not a weakness, it was a strength. And once again I could anchor to this confidence inside of me.
By realigning my mind, my body, and my spirit, I knew I could never go back (but in a sense I didn’t want to), my story had more power now.
It wasn’t a story about survival really, it was a story of hope; bringing light to the darkness.
I felt it internally. And as I felt this change within, others took notice externally. I had for the first time in while a sincere smile on my face. My body was no longer holding onto the darkness or hiding in fear; for my mind, my body, and my spirit once again remembered that fear was just a liar. So for me, is everyday sunshine and rainbows now? No. It is, however, filled with a gentleness that only the power of forgiveness and love each day can bring.
The mindfulness habits became a portal to the peace inside of me that even on a bad day, a not so pleasant day, I can show myself grace and see the successes and find strength in that."