April 14, 2016

Luke Airman receives black belt

by Senior Airman Devante Williams
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Senior Airman Adrian Cook, 56th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, spars with an instructor during his black belt ceremony March 12, 2016 at Sentosa Martial Arts in Avondale, Ariz. Cook went through rigorous training to receive his belt.

Out of all the different styles of martial arts, Muay Thai is considered by many as the hardest to master. However, one Airman was able to achieve this mastery and learn more about himself in the process.

Senior Airman Adrian Cook, 56th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, started practicing Muay Thai many years ago. His interest in the sport started after he began watching martial arts movies.

“I’ve always been fascinated by martial arts, but I wanted to be great in one specific style,” Cook said. “The movie, ‘Ong-Bak Thai Warrior,’ made me want to actively get involved in Muay Thai. Muay Thai is about freestyling and hand-to-hand combat, which had me hooked as soon as I saw how the main character was taking down the enemies with various moves.”

Cook started training at Sentosa Martial Arts and has been there for the last three years. During his first year of Muay Thai training, Cook took on his first official bout. He went on to win his first fight and the experience he gained inspired him.

“It wasn’t just about me anymore,” Cook said. “I wanted to teach other people and become that big brother figure. As a teacher, you get to help a person willing to learn and train them to be the best.”

Cook has now been teaching at Sentosa Martial Arts for a year and a half, a desire that matches the Air Force core value of service before self. He divides his students based on their age and ability.

“I start off teaching little ones at three years old,” he said. “I try to make it as fun as possible. The older ones get the more advance techniques such as striking and ground movement tactics. Once they reach 16 years or older, the training intensifies.”

So far, Cook has taught more than 100 students, and plans on taking his teaching to the next level.

“I want to open up a school one day,” he said. “I take great pleasure in teaching. It’s a great feeling knowing I helped my students with their training.”

Cook recently received his black belt, a reward that comes after many years of hard work and training.

“Cook has made major improvements from the time he started his journey till now,” said Jerry Laurita, Sentosa Martial Arts owner and certified third degree black belt. “I want to see him grow and keep shaping his techniques.”

It was not easy getting there, but for Cook the journey was worth it.

“When I look back, every belt I earned has a story,” Cook said. “I’ve gone through a lot of pain. I had to drag myself out of bed just to make it to practice. It feels amazing to finally receive it.”

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