Elkhart teen aims to become world's youngest Chun Moo Hapkido black belt

Published: Jul. 29, 2019 at 3:54 PM EDT
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Fourteen-year-old Lorrin Smith used a childhood bullying experience as his motivation, and now he is just five days away from securing his black belt in the martial art of Chun Moo Hapkido.

“With the way the odds were stacked against him, he shouldn’t really have been able to do all of this,” said Trever Smith, Lorrin’s father. “So, of course, he went out and did it anyway.”

It’s a typical morning for Lorrin Smith inside Elkhart Martial Arts. He is finessing the dozens of kicking, hand and fall techniques of Chun Moo Hapkido.

Chun Moo Hapkido is a unique martial art that was founded in South Korea in the 1960s.

“Hapkido is an art that depends on, we use our attacker’s body against them,” Chief Master John Salomon said. “In other words, we flow with them in order to perform our techniques. Or we might use a circular motion to give us an advantage. It’s primarily a self-defense martial art.”

Lorrin is hoping to earn his first-degree black belt in Chun Moo Hapkido and to be the youngest one in the world, at that.

“I’m excited that I get to test for black belt in Hapkido,” Lorrin said. “I’m usually a little bit nervous when I go to test, but I don’t let them get the best of me.”

For Lorrin and his parents, it’s been a quest three years in the making.

“He’s put in the hard work,” said Tammy Smith, Lorrin’s mother. “He’s here training six days a week. Sometimes, he’s here two times a day between training, doing what he needs to do for his upcoming black belt test. “

When he was 7, he came home from school one day and said he wanted to learn to protect himself after being bullied.

Lorrin had been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder when he was 5.

“It’s an auditory from of dyslexia,” Trever Smith said. “There’s nothing wrong with his ears. It’s how his brain processes what he hears.”

So, he turned to martial arts.

Lorrin not only found his niche but also his voice.

“Usually when you have to teach other students, you have to speak loud,” Lorrin Smith said. “I had trouble saying some of the words and understanding what people are saying. I could only say vowel sounds at one point. When I was teaching other students, I got to speak loud. I learned better at how to understand the instructors telling me what to do, and that’s helped me a lot.”

His parents support their only child every step of the way.

“Words can’t describe how proud I am of him,” Tammy Smith said.

As part of his black belt in taekwondo and prepping for the Chun Moo Hapkido black belt, Lorrin also teaches the younger generation of martial artists.

“He does a very good job at instructing,” Salomon said. “He works well with the adults, but he’s extremely good with children.”

In just seven years, Lorrin has more than 100 honors to his name.

But for Lorrin, it’s about practicing the art he loves and just following his dream.

“To the other kids with APD, just this kind in general, that you can receive your black belt and that pretty much anything is possible,” Lorrin Smith said.

Lorrin will go for his black belt Saturday afternoon.

Regardless of what happens on Saturday, Lorrin says he wants to just keep going in his training to get as far as he can get in taekwondo and Chun Moo Hapkido.