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You may have fallen in love with the feisty fists and fighting prowess of Zhang Zi Yi in spectacular martial arts movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

But look no further. Let’s get a kick and catch from 18-year old martial artist and aspiring chemist Sahar V. Omar. Sports, music and food just mix – she also plays the guitar and piano and she bakes.

“I started doing martial arts (Wushu Taolu and Karate) some 5 years ago. It was summer vacation when I first tried it out. I wanted to try something new and I was curious because not many people knew what ‘Wushu Taolu’ was,” Sahar notes.

“I only engaged in angling last year. I’ve always loved the idea of fishing. Sure it may seem boring at first, but when you finally get a catch, especially a big one, it will be one of the most thrilling moments in your life!” she says.

Sahar also tried Taekwondo for a short time, but Wushu Taolu has always been her favorite.  She likewise loves volleyball and it’s one of her favorite sports. She also tried out for tracks (track and field).

Wushu Taolu What?

“Wushu Taolu is definitely a sport Ilonggos aren’t so familiar with. When I tell people about it, they still go, ‘Wushu what?’ But it’s basically like modern kung fu. It’s a beautiful art form that makes use of the whole body doing basic maneuvers like sweeps, kicks, etc. but with agility, speed, sharpness and style,” stresses Sahar.

Karate, on the other hand, is a very popular sport, but many get confused with its differences with Taekwondo. In Karate, you use your arms and hands most of the time as compared to your legs. Taekwondo’s the reverse of that, with your legs used more than the arms and hands, she explains.

Catch it Yourself

“A golden rule in angling is if you get a bite, no one is allowed to help you reel it in. Once your catch is on your reach, you’ll feel so proud that you caught it all by yourself.

I do angle fishing as a hobby because it’s a relaxing way to escape from all the noise and pollution of the city and to a place where there’s fresh air, cool wind, good company and no cell phone reception!” Sahar exclaims.

Mastering the Moves

“Martial arts is a great way to stay fit! It is good because your body get’s introduced to new moves and maneuvers almost every time. By training with your masters, you get to develop not only your skills in the art but also discipline,” she says.

“When I get introduced to a new form to memorize and master, it takes me some time to really see the beauty of the art. But once I master all the moves and perform the whole thing, it’s really a great feeling! Hard work really pays off,” Sahar affirms.

A Relaxing Reel Feeling

“Angling will help relax your mind. It is always good to not only train your body, but also your brain. You might think angling is easy – all you do is wait for a bite.

But when it’s time for you to reel that fish in, you’ll be sweating and panting like you just finished a 100 meter dash! It’s difficult to learn how to properly reel a fish in because if you do it wrongly, you’ll lose it,” she adds.

“My most memorable experience was during my senior year in high school. I joined the track and field team and trained hard for hurdles and sprinting. It was very difficult and I almost felt like giving up,” Sahar shares.

Never Give Up

“But with the support of my family and friends, I kept to my goal and ended up winning one gold medal and two silver medals. That feeling made me so proud, knowing that because of determination and hardwork, I was able to reach my goals,” she affirms.

“Because of my current school’s location, I am unable to train with martial arts as hard as I did when I was in high school,” Sahar says.

But that did not stop her from trying other sports. She tried lawn tennis once because it was something she never did before.

Staying Active

“I also take the 30 minute walk to my dorm from school instead of the 3-minute ride. But the sport that I am hooked into now is volleyball. I am a girl who likes to stay active,” Sahar enthuses.

“Balancing academics and sports isn’t exactly easy, but I have learned how to manage my time. I do everything I have to accomplish beforehand and I don’t only make a schedule of ‘things to do,’ but really stick to it,” she adds.

Wushu like Dancing

Her mom and sister have rather varied sports interests. “My sister likes ballet and dance. But we both like volleyball. My mom likes to walk and jog and is a good dancer as well. She was also a sprinter when she was my age. They both are great dancers. I guess I express my ‘dancing’ side through the various forms I learn in Wushu Taolu,” Sahar says.

“Sometimes you just have to set aside what other people think and challenge yourself to do things you thought you could never do. You might just surprise them and yourself,” she asserts.

Just Give it a Try

“Many women think that martial arts and angling belong to a man’s world because they have didn’t try it out. It’s always good to try out new things, especially when you get tired of the ‘same old’ lifestyle you’re living in,” Sahar encourages.

“Again, you’ll never really know unless you try. Martial arts and angling aren’t sports that you see people doing everyday – this is what makes them so interesting,” she avers.

Stepping Stones

“Losing doesn’t make you less of a winner, what makes you a winner is your determination and willingness to try. All those times when I fail or lose, I always look up and see them as stepping stones toward my ultimate goal,” says Sahar.

“We are all meant for greater things, and in order to bring us there, we need stepping stones. We need to be polished before we become priceless diamonds,” she adds.

Don’t Stop Believing

“My life has been filled with so many of these trials which I know are all relevant in molding me as a person. I realize that I still have so much to go through in the future, but thinking positively assures me that I will somehow make it through – a better person than I was,” Sahar says.

She wants to think like Abraham Lincoln: “That some achieve great success is proof to all that others can achieve it as well.”

In her own words: Never stop believing that you can reach your dreams because you can.

Sahar likens the successful experience to the story of Michael Jackson – “how others told him he couldn’t make it big and how he proved them all wrong by becoming a legend. The reason why he succeeded is because of all the failures he’s had to put up with.”

“Sometimes we tell ourselves that we can’t do something good at – like karate for example, because some say that it’s difficult – or angling because others say it’s boring,” she states.

Fun and Learning Experience

“All this negativity overshadows the positive sides of the sport. We shouldn’t always look at how many times we could fail at it, but how much fun we could have and how we can learn from every experience,” she adds.

Not Just for the Athletic

“Sports isn’t only for athletic people – it’s for everyone who wants to have fun and stay healthy and fit – body and mind. Trying new things and new activities will help develop our skills and boost our confidence as well. After all, we only have one life to live and we’d better make the most of it,” says Sahar.

Dream Big

“I’m a big dreamer. I’ve got so many dreams I want to achieve. It’s important for me to keep believing, because if I do, I know I can achieve a great many things,” she adds.

Photo credits: Jun Rojas / Photos from Sahar’s FB account

(This story first appeared in Mezzo Magazine March-April 2011)

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