Meet the 11-year-old overcoming cerebral palsy challenges with martial arts

Joe Mazur Image
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Meet the 11-year-old overcoming cerebral palsy challenges with martial arts
11-year-old Saanvi Kumar was born with cerebral palsy and joined a Cary martial arts school to strengthen her left arm and leg. With the help of her trainers, the activity is life-changing.

CARY, N.C. -- Training in martial arts requires discipline, mental and physical strength. To succeed it takes a good teacher and a dedicated student. FIT Martial Arts and Physical Fitness in West Cary has that combo in abundance and for Saanvi Kumar, the activity is life changing.

Kumar was born with cerebral palsy which makes the physical execution of taekwondo extremely difficult. The 11-year-old joined FIT to help strengthen her left hand and leg.

"I like the power and the energy and I like the people helping me with things I don't know," Kumar says.

Those people are the co-owners of FIT.

Siyong Kim or Master Sean as he's known has been training in martial arts since his childhood in South Korea. Before leaving his native country, Kim served as an elite body guard for a General in the South Korean military. Now he's a 5th-degree black belt with a soft spot for kiddos, like Kumar.

"I treat her like a normal kid. If I just think of something she's different, my action is going to be different too."

Melissa Cokely has trained under Kim for the last eight years. Two years ago, they merged strengths and opened FIT. Both have built strong bonds with the community and have a passion for teaching.

"I love the kids," Cokely says. That of course includes Kumar. "I think she's absolutely amazing. Her muscles are very stiff. We're hoping that by having her in the taekwondo classes, it's going to help her flexibility and build her muscles and make her stronger."

The class lessons include self-defense, respect and perseverance. Kumar is soaking it all up.

Just a month into her training, Kumar has some lofty goals.

"My goal is to achieve a medal in the competition." And some goals already met. "To make my parents proud." Done and done.