(Photos by: Theresa Schempp)
Out of 22 thousand students on Towson University’s campus, Andres Negro is one the few who has received his second-degree black belt in karate and martial arts. In this article, Andres discusses his achievements in martial arts and how he maintains his skills while juggling five classes and two jobs.
Towson University junior Andres Negro has an everyday routine: First, he goes to is business and sports management classes. Afterwards, he goes to Cook Library to do his homework before starting his shift at the front desk. Five hours later, he drives to LA Fitness to begin his other job until 11 p.m.
The hours are long and the pay is less than desirable, but for Andres, the fun starts after school and work. Every night, Andres relieves stress by practicing what he loves most: martial arts.
“It’s a great way to cool myself down after a long day,” Andres said. “I [started martial arts] when I was fourteen, and because I got in trouble in school.”
He began training at Kicks Karate in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and quickly moved up in belt ranks. After a year, he received a job as a karate instructor, thanks to the support from his instructor Matthew Gray. “[Martial arts] introduced me to my boss who is now almost like my father,” said Andres. “I hang out with him all the time.”
Moving to Towson, martial arts began to become less of a priority in his life as schoolwork and other jobs took over his time and energy. However, Andres began to realize that he wasn’t as motivated as before, and began to train by himself both in his room and at the gym, and regained the motivation he had been lacking.
“It gives me discipline,” said Andres. “and just gives me a better direction towards what I want to do with myself.”
He credits much of his success at Towson to what he learned through martial arts. “Overall is helps me want to stay fit and want to go work out, whether it is training or just running, and makes me want to stay active,” Andres said. “I love martial arts. I just wish Towson offered it as a club.”
To his friends, Andres is considered dedicated, hard working, and always available if someone is in trouble. “I met Andres last year when I was a sophomore,” said Will Pegram, a junior at Towson University and close colleague to Andres. “He works more than anyone I know, but I know he would always be there if I need help, or if I need my butt to be kicked.” Pegram said with a laugh.
Working at LA Fitness, Andres is able to connect with customers he wouldn’t have the opportunity to without martial arts. “A lot of people that do martial arts do go to that gym,” said Andres. “you always have something to talk about with them.”
Andres hopes one day to achieve his fifth degree black belt and become a grand master in karate. He hopes that more people will become interested in the sport that helped him through life.
“Just go in there and do the best you can,” said Andres. “You’re not going to be good to begin with and you shouldn’t measure up against somebody else. That’s the great thing about martial arts. You’re never trying to be better than anyone else. You’re just trying to be better than what you were yesterday.”