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02/02/2018 – Lucia Rodríguez* is a member of a joint programme run by two Fight for Peace partner organisations in Mexico – Casa Alianza and Angel’s de Lima Lama. From living on the street, Lucia succeeded in making enormous changes in her life through a passion for the martial art of Lima Lama, and with the support of her coaches and mentors. Here Lucia explains where she feels that pushing a little harder and taking opportunities can lead:

(*this name is being used to protect the identity of the individual featured in this article and is not her real name)

“I would like to tell you my story, a story that hopefully will help you see that life is only what you make of it and not about the circumstances you live in. My name is Lucia Rodríguez and in 2015 I began my journey with Casa Alianza and Angel’s, organisations built on the development of young adults using the power of martial arts.

At first, I saw martial arts not as an opportunity to change my life but as a distraction, a pastime. I had no family, education or goals to aspire to. I was struggling with addictions that resulted in my behaviour being aggressive and creating many conflicts with the people that surrounded me. When I began attending Angel’s, I realised that all the anger I had built up could be transformed into something positive. I learned that with perseverance you can turn your life around and that is exactly what I did, I pushed a little harder and took the opportunities that were in front of me.

Doing martial arts has many rewards, for one it helps you gain discipline, it pushes you to give your all and to improve your techniques. Being a girl in a sport that that is mostly seen as masculine gave me a sense of empowerment and achievement. I have taken part in 15 tournaments now and, although I have lost on occasions, I know that a defeat is just as important as winning because it pushes you to aim higher and fight harder. That is what my coach taught me and what I learnt on the way. As my coach once told me, ‘life is about interpretation’.

Thinking that such a slight change in my life could have made such a significant difference seems unlikely, but no one ever started from the top, we all have a beginning and reaching the top is what makes life interesting. I now study, work and coach myself; I want to help shape the future of children that have a similar story to mine. Not only do I want to change my life but I want to inspire and serve as an example to young people. I want to show them that they can do anything they want – that they can take the small opportunities life gives them and transform them into possibilities.”

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