Elkhart Teen 'finds his voice' with Martial Arts

NOW: Elkhart Teen ’finds his voice’ with Martial Arts

ELKHART, Ind. - Lorrin Smith is a 15-year-old in Elkhart who was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder at a young age. It's a learning disability that qualified him for special education because of how the disorder impacts how his brain processes what he is told. After getting bullied in school one day, Lorrin told his parents he wanted to sign up for Martial Arts. In doing so, he said he has overcome his disability, gained national recognition, become a Tae Kwon Doe instructor and excelled academically.

"It was actually a bully," Lorrin said. "I was in first grade. I had auditory processing disorder, still do, and he was making fun of me because of the way I talked, and I basically didn't want him to bully me anymore. So, I suggested to Mom and Dad that I start Martial Arts. It's really helped me. When I'm instructing, I have to use a really loud voice when I'm instructing, and at first, I was just mumbling and was still unsure, but after a while, I started getting better and better and speaking more clearly. As you can see, I've overcome my diagnosis now."

Lorrin's parents said they were surprised when he said he wanted to take up Martial Arts because at the time, he "didn't have an athletic bone in his body." Now that he's found success with it, Lorrin's father, Trever said it's gone far beyond what he could have expected.

"It's one of those things where you hope for the best, but you're still surprised at what comes along," Trever said. "I remember when she was in the pace program, preschool for developmentally disabled, that if he could just be normal, average, that would be outstanding."

Lorrin is now an honor roll student in his sophomore year of high school and is part of the Junior Honor Society and is a Technical Sergeant in his school's Air Force Junior ROTC program.

He was 14 when he got his first-degree black belt in the Martial Art form Hapkido, one of the youngest to ever do so. He was given special permission to test for his black belt at that age by the overall head of Hapkido because of his success in Tae Kwon Doe. John Salomon, Lorrin's longtime instructor, said he has a special quality that stands out more than any other.

"As a student, he was always very dedicated," Salomon said. "Now that he's a head instructor, he's also very dedicated, not only in learning his own technique and that type of thing, but as an instructor, he does a very good job teaching other people, too."

Lorrin said his success at Steve's Gym in Elkhart has helped make him a better student and overall better person.

"I've literally and figuratively found my voice," Lorrin said. "I'm speaking more and more clearly. I've overcome my diagnosis now. I'm not recognized as 'that kid' anymore. I haven't been bullied since first grade."

Lorrin is on track to graduate high school with an Associate's degree and said that next year, he plans to test for his third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Doe and his second-degree black belt in Hapkido.

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