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The 2015 United World Taekwondo Association (UWTA) Grand International Testing and Tournament was held in Reno the first weekend of October, drawing testers and competitors from across the country.

Students lined up in front of the UWTA masters to demonstrate their Taekwondo skills in preparation for earning their 1st Degree or higher Black Belt. Instead of observing the testers from the judges’ table, as she would normally, Master Amitis Pourarian, owner of THE STUDIO Martial Arts & Fitness in Roseville, was in the lineup. After years of intensive training, she was there to test for her 7th Degree Black Belt. Pourarian is now the highest-ranked woman in the UWTA.

Many do not know that Pourarian emigrated from Iran, a country in revolution, when she was 5 years old. Her parents left everything behind so she and her two sisters could be raised in a country where they were free to make their own decisions and be as successful as they chose to be. “I felt that anything less than giving it my all, whether in school, work, or martial arts, would be an insult to my parents who had sacrificed so much so that my sisters and I could have these liberties,” says Pourarian.

Pourarian, a former U.S. Team Member who began her training at age 13, says Taekwondo has always bettered her life and kept her fit, healthy, and feeling young. However, as her Taekwondo journey evolved, she began asking herself how her knowledge could benefit others. “I had gained so many benefits from Taekwondo and realized that I needed to take it to another level and share it with others,” she says. Pourarian opened THE STUDIO Martial Arts & Fitness in 2010 with the goal of changing people’s lives for the better and inspiring people to share Taekwondo with others. “I wanted to create programs that allowed everyone from all walks of life to benefit, regardless of age or ability,” she says.

Since opening her school, Pourarian has worked with her students to help them achieve great things in Taekwondo — with tremendous success. At October’s UWTA tournament, 12 students from THE STUDIO, training under Pourarian’s direction, earned 15 world championship titles in sparring and forms. (A form, or poomsae, is a fixed series of movements for learning defensive and offensive techniques.)

“I’m incredibly proud of how hard these students worked to earn their world championship titles,” says Pourarian. “As I prepared for my 7th Degree testing I was myself reminded that although I may be a master instructor, I am first a student. I am humbled by how much I still have to learn from this art yet how much it has given to me, how much it continues to give to me, and how much more I can benefit from it.”

UWTA 2015 Taekwondo Champions