Chickasaw teenager Ezra Johnson counts himself lucky to have discovered the Chickasaw Nation Martial Arts Program when he was 12 years old – martial arts has given him purpose and meaning in his life, he says, as if it helped to fill an empty space.
Through a structured atmosphere that promotes healthy peer relationships, the Martial Arts Program aims to teach students the five basic principles of character, sincerity, effort, etiquette and self-control.
Martial arts, Ezra says, takes extreme discipline, respect and constant practice. It helps him to hone his unconquerable Chickasaw spirit – no matter if he wins or loses, he always tries his best.
Ezra says he loves competing but that he especially enjoys sparring. All marches and commands in the program are done entirely in Chickasaw – this helps to bring the culture out in a unique way, ensuring that it is passed on to future generations.
A recipient of many awards and trophies, Ezra has been honored in both the Jim Thorpe Native American Games and the Oklahoma Native American Youth Language Fair competition. He is also the voice of Nashoba, the boy character on ChicaksawKids.com.