CRESTVIEW — Two Crestview natives purportedly are the only siblings who simultaneously have become master taekwondo instructors.
Paul and Nathan Carroll started training in martial arts when they were 8 and 9 years old, respectively. Now, 23 years later, they have seen that hard work pay off, achieving success as master instructors.
“It’s a good story for people to hear that two little boys start off as one with cerebral palsy and the other with ADHD, and then go on to stick with this taekwondo thing for this many years,” Paul said. “It’s a big accomplishment. It just goes to show you that if you stick with anything, and have the dedication and the perseverance… you can accomplish anything.”
According to Paul, the title of master instructor doesn’t just mean teaching taekwondo, but also means being an instructor of instructors.
“Your goal is not to just make great students, but to help teach people how to teach taekwondo,” Paul said. “It’s great to see your students come up and pursue their goals and become black belts and instructors, and we’ve got some that have titles as far as state champion, district champion — we even have a couple world champions.”
Paul teaches martial arts at Crestview ATA Martial Arts. Nathan is an instructor at an ATA school in Kansas City, Missouri, where he teaches more than 200 students and is a world champion in the special abilities division. ATA is the world’s largest martial arts organization with more than 1,500 schools across the world and more than 300,000 members.
“People [wonder] how something like [martial arts] can help a child with attention problems,” Paul said. “Both of us were kind of getting picked on, too. That’s actually the reason we started.”
Paul said their mother decided to sign them up for martial arts so they could defend themselves against a neighborhood bully, but they never realized it would change their lives.
“It’s funny how your passion and your dream changes over the years,” Paul said. “Everyone thinks martial arts is about fighting, but it's really a lot more than that. When we teach it in class, yes, they’re learning self-defense, but the biggest part of it is to have confidence. Simply having confidence and being able to look another kid in the eye that might be picking on you and being able to stand up for yourself sometimes is enough.”
Paul instructs 4-year-olds, adults and everyone in between. He said he has seen parents use martial arts as a reward for hard work in school, and that it helps with grades and behavior.
Paul also works with students with disabilities, such as autism or Down syndrome. He said the training helps instill confidence within them, and they can see that they are capable of anything. Paul said he enjoys seeing a student progress physically, but as an instructor, seeing someone progress mentally and as a person in general is the most rewarding aspect.
“It becomes a lot bigger than you in helping other people pursue their dreams and goals,” Paul said.
“It’s great to be able to do something you love and be like, ‘This is my job — are you kidding me?’”