RENO, Nev. (News 4) -- It’s been a wild 2016 for Maximo Torres.
“My emotion was happiness. It sprung out of my body. I won something,” said the martial artist.
After winning nearly every karate tournament he competed in this year, he was awarded Nevada Fighter of the Year.
It was something not many saw coming. Especially since when he first arrived at Amba Martial Arts, he was so uncoordinated that they had to teach him how to run.
“It was a pretty crazy ride,” said Torres. “At the beginning I couldn’t even run and after that my Senseis kept training me and training me. Where I am right now, I feel great.”
“It all kind of came together this year when I watched him perform his form, his traditional Kata,” said Amba Martial Arts owner Martin Amba. “I literally cried. Tears were rolling down my eyes because I thought about where he came from.”
Torres certainly hasn’t been alone on this ride, mostly because of the Torreses around him.
Maximo trains with his sister, Alexandra, and his father, Luis.
“Even something so simple like jumping the rope was so hard for him,” said the elder Torres. “Now after all the training and practicing every day I say, 'Damn, that’s the same kid that wasn’t able to move before.'"
“Seeing my brother dominate felt really good because I felt like, if he can do it I can do it too,” said Alexandra.
Maximo isn’t the only Torres raking in awards. Sister Alexandra won an All-Star Award at the World League Finals.
And as a family?
They’re winning something that can’t be represented through a trophy.
“Now we have a better relationship,” said Luis. “We are more than just dad and son and daughter. We are friends.”
“I get to be in here with my friends and family and we get to do it together instead of just being alone,” said Alexandra.
To Amba, that’s the whole point of his work: To build a better community, both inside and outside of the dojo.
“I couldn’t be more proud if one day they come in and say, ‘Sensei Martin, Instructor Joji, Sensei MJ, I just passed the bar exam. Things like that. That’s what we’re truly trying to do. Self-defense, kicking and punching, that’s just stuff along the way. I know they’re going to be fine as far as that. What I’m trying to do is help build a future.”