Meet Pendekkar Emily!

Bantoe Emily cropped copy 2 I began training at 9 at a self-defense summer camp in Portland where I learned how to safely answer doors and phones (before cells!). I learned to roll like a tiger and felt strength in a place that soon felt like a home to me.

Surrounded by people that crossed the borders of ages, states, and even countries, I fell in love with training. We learned how to move according to our body and our own hearts.

My mother passed away when I was a teenager and my Poekoelan teammates and teachers were a great support. I was “adopted” by older “black-belt” sisters and brothers.

My dad supported my training. He’d hold pads for me in parks and we’d watch Kung Fu movies together. We now live far from each other, but our phone calls always include what’s happening in class.

At my white sash promotion, standing before Goeroe Karin, my legs trembled. I felt elated like I could do anything I put my mind to – I believed in myself. But the most remarkable thing is that my teammates believed in me. As a teacher now, I give back by believing in others. Believing in our students really does teach them to believe in themselves.

I’ve been training over 22 years. I recently became a board member on the Tulen Foundation. I’m motivated by the thought of more kids finding a safe place where they too can grow their confidence and belief in themselves.

I’ve trained in many Poekoelan schools, in Portland, Bend, Cape Cod, New York, Seattle… and many little impromptu training spaces. To all my teachers and teammates, I thank you for all the lessons, love and fights (in a good way!) – I look forward to so much more.