Name: Mariah Moore
Grade: Junior in College. Double Major in Criminal Justice and Psychology.
There are no dreams out of reach for martial artist, activist, inspirational speaker, model, and actress Mariah Moore. She has more than a dozen world titles and many more national titles to her credit, but what impresses me most about Mariah is her genuine warmth and sincere commitment to developing the best in all of those around her. Mariah has what I can only describe as a fierce compassion for enlivening everything she touches. She is fearless in the pursuit of her goals and tireless in supporting others in theirs. It is that rare combination of passion, drive, and genuine interest in other people that makes Mariah memorable. I’ve had the pleasure of being Mariah’s teammate on the US National Stick Fighting Team as well as training with her under the direction of Grand Master Bong Journales. You will not find a more generous teacher or a more gracious champion than Mariah. When asked to pick a GERM Girl of the Month, I immediately thought of Mariah, and here’s why: Many people inspire you by making you wish you could be more like them. After spending a few minutes with Mariah, you realize that this smart, beautiful, talented, and very hard-working girl is somehow making you want to be your best self. That’s the Mariah Moore effect, and that is the true nature of inspiration. Keep the hits coming, Mariah.
Q: You are a world champion martial artist, activist, actress, model, inspirational speaker, and all around inspiration. Who or what has shaped you?
A: I am a firm believer that it takes a community to raise a person. I learn and am inspired by everybody who touches my life, from my family to the people I meet through martial arts, people I meet on speaking tours, and in everyday encounters. If I had to pick a single influence, Grand Master Bong continues to inspire me. He has taught me not only to fight but has also shared his deep wisdom. I learn something from him every single day; he has taught me to be exactly who I want to be and to become a better person while doing so. He has always encouraged me to express myself through martial arts so that I can demonstrate who I am through what I am doing. That’s an important part of my life in every way.
A: I live in a small rural town in Michigan. I was always a straight up tomboy and loved Bruce Lee movies. When I was eight years old, a kyokoshin karate school opened in my hometown, and I bugged my parents until they took me. I still train in karate and have branched out into other martial arts as well. It was through my wu shu training that I met Wu Bin when he came to American scouting wu shu camps. He selected a small group of students to go to China for special training under his direction. I was ten years old and had the opportunity to go to another country and train there with Wu Bin — who is also personal coach to Jackie Chan and Jet Li. I understood at a very young age that with hard work and the support of my family, my passion for martial arts could open up the world for me.
Q: Can you talk about your family’s role in your success?
A: Absolutely. They are my biggest supporters. My family has sacrificed so much for me. We are a regular family. We are not rich. For my parents to get me to China, to Mexico, to the Philippines and to support my training took hard work and required tough choices. I appreciate that. My parents have never stopped encouraging me to do more, to be more. When I was down, they pushed me. When they were down, I pushed them. My success has grown out of their love and commitment.
Q: I’m not sure if we can keep up, but take us through your average day.
A: There are no average days! I train full time, work full time, go to school full time, and still manage a social life. I’m still not completely sure how myself. I train in the morning, go to school, go to work, go back to the gym, have some down time, and then sometimes back to the gym again. Sometimes I’ll hear a song that really motivates me, and then — even if its 1:00 AM — there I go to the gym. When I feel inspired, I act on it. I never say, “Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow.” My parents work hard and they have taught me the value of that also. I don’t have any student loans. Any expenses that I can’t cover through speaking engagements or martial arts related work, I cover by work to pay off in the summer. This summer I’m working at a golf course.
Q: You do a lot of work with elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools with your Enough is Enough Assembly tour. Tell us about that.
A: About two years ago, when I started college and was reflecting back on my school years, I had this crazy idea about finding a way to speak to kids who were going through what I went through in school but had no one to tell about it.
Q: Okay, I have to interrupt here. You, a world champion martial artist, were bullied in school?
A: May seem unbelievable, but painfully true. When I went back to school in 7th grade, a lot of people didn’t know how to handle the fact that I was excelling at a sport that wasn’t typical like football. Even people I thought were my close friends changed their attitude, and it was the start of a really painful time. I experienced physical bullying as well as became the subject of rumors, exclusions — you know the ways girls often bully. I was strong in myself and in my martial arts, but that stuff still hurts, especially when you are in your teens. Your classmates are the people you are around every day. If they are always showing you a picture of yourself as unwanted or unaccepted, it’s hard not to take that in. At fourteen I began giving motivational speeches: farm girl to world champion. At the same time, I was still struggling with many of these issues in my own life. So, with the Enough is Enough campaign, I decided it was my time to make a difference and to stand tall for those kids that are getting beaten down emotionally and physically every day. I don’t want to be just another fighter. I want the world to be a better place because I am a fighter.
Q: Why do you think that people bully? Or struggle so much with other people’s success?
A: I don’t know if there is really a reason why. I don’t know if they know why they do it. It’s hard to say this because I believe in the good in people, but the truth is that sometimes people can be mean. Sometimes there are reasons, but sometimes there aren’t. The important thing is not to tolerate it. To stand strong and say, “Enough is enough.” People sometimes ask me how I think I can stop bullying or make kids be nice to each other. I answer that I can’t. We can’t make kids like each other or be nice to each other all the time. But what we can do is build up the victim. Show them their worth. I can’t tell the bully, “Be nice,” but I can tell the victim, “You will survive. You will strive, and you will thrive. You are not alone. This is not forever. You are not the one with the problem.”
Q: You are already so accomplished. What’s in the five-year plan?
A: So much! Training, competing, graduating from college. I want to work in Homeland Security specializing in human trafficking. When I see where my work will take me, I want to open my own school and teach karate and Filipino martial arts. I feel I have been blessed with a gift in being able to speak to people and to connect with them. I want that gift to become a living help to people. I want to continue to inspire and motivate and encourage in whatever I do. Do I know what that will look like in twenty years? I don’t. But I know it will happen because I will make it happen.
A. Lime Green
Q: Favorite song?
A. Couldn’t possibly pick. I love music. It makes me happy. It makes me smile. I listen to country, heavy metal, pop… I love all music.
Q: I know you cook, what’s your favorite thing to get up to in the kitchen?
A: Chicken and dumplings. It’s just so good.
Q: Any inspiring quotes or advice you’d like to share with other girls who want to do it all?
A: Definitely! It doesn’t matter what you do – dance or football or reading or academics — whatever it is you do, never stop doing what you love. Know that anything is possible. You can do anything you set your mind to do. Keep putting yourself out there and experimenting until you find your passion. Regular people can do extraordinary things. I am proof of that. They are proof of that.
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Editor’s Note: All photos in this article are used with permission from Mariah Moore who retains their copyright.