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Taking on the world

This weekend Screven County resident Andi Johnson will compete against some of the best martial artists at the 2014 World Expo in Little Rock, Ark.
Johnson, 47, has been competing on a regular basis for eight years and Friday she will perform in the weapons and combat weapons competitions.
To reach worlds, Johnson had to excel at the state and district levels.
“To even be in the ring at worlds is a huge accomplishment,” said Johnson, who works at the ATA facility in Statesboro with Master Eddie Lott and is a certified trainer for classes in Screven County and Jenkins County.
Her classes in Sylvania will resume Aug. 4 when school starts back. The classes will be Mondays at 3:30 p.m.; and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. at the county recreation department.
While reaching this level is quite a personal achievement for Johnson, she is quick to say that she has learned and teaches humility.
She teaches bully prevention, self defense, kickboxing for fitness along with the ATA advancements.
“I absolutely love to teach,” Johnson said. “I like it when the entire family comes.
“I teach a lot of instruction and self discipline,” she said. “I have parents come to me and say how much this has helped their children. I love my parents and I love to teach.”
Johnson is a third degree black belt and will test for her fourth degree black belt next year.
Her son JD is a third degree black belt in his age level, while her daughter Lyla is a first degree black belt for her age. Lyla started training when she was 3.
“I have always been an athlete,” Johnson said. “I train up to two hours a day. Sometimes I train twice a day.”
She mixes weightlifting with agility training.
Johnson was a national champion at the October 2013 competition in Orlando, Fla.
“The ATA stresses sportsmanship,” she said. “It is about learning. There is only one winner. You learn to improve yourself. When I don’t win, I just tell myself that is wasn’t my day. I have to practice what I teach to the students.”
Johnson is 47 and is glad to be so healthy.
“I am proud of my age,” she said. “I train with 20-year-olds. I train with people half of my age.”
With the ATA, it is about competing with a good attitude to possibly win a trophy, but learn under ideal conditions.
Competitions and training allow individuals to meet new people, make new friends, put nerves to the test, and display skills. By focusing on these purposes, it is very possible to be happy whether one wins or loses.
Most people think that the reward at a tournament is the trophy. By eliminating this idea, the ATA eliminates the unnecessary devastation of leaving without a trophy.
According to the ATA, competition is not just in a ring. Students compete with themselves on a daily basis.
The compete to lose weight; compete with our mind to retain knowledge; compete with intellect on our spiritual convictions.
Tournaments are a great opportunity for increasing skills as well as boosting confidence. It is possible to learn self control over a temper, or become motivated to react positively instead of negatively to outcomes one does not desire.
These are the aspects that Johnson stresses for herself and her students.
The ATA hosts three tournaments annually -- Fall and Spring Nationals and World Championships.  
All other tournaments are hosted by licensees.