Girl breaks the competition

When 12-year-old Skylar Pagliuca first got interested in the martial arts style of breaking, it was not because her idol did it or because her parents encouraged her to do it.

She just thought it was cool.

According to Pagliuca, who is a red belt in martial arts just a few colors away from the black belt, the highest achievement in martial arts she was introduced to breaking when a presentation was given at her school, St. Catherine of Siena in Albany.

"And I asked my master, 'Can I do it?' and he was like, 'Yeah!'" she said.

Pagliuca said she started out simply with breaking, just practicing her form while breaking through boards with her hands and feet.

"Once I got more into it," she said, "I started doing more fancy things and more things that would attract people."

One of those "fancier" things, Pagliuca said, is to do a straight kick over her head, breaking a board over her head before landing in a split and breaking boards on either side of her.

Another fancy thing Pagliuca said she does is a one-handed cartwheel before landing with a break.

While Pagliuca has been practicing her technique over the past year, she has been using her skills in several competitions, each earning her points based on how well she had done. Those points recently earned Pagliuca international fame when she traveled to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday, March 7, for the Arnold Classic Sports Weekend, an international competition of assorted sporting events, where she took home the title of the United States Breaking Association/World Breaking Association Junior Female Competitor of the Year.

According to Pagliuca's master, Pil-Sung Martial Arts studio owner Adam Grogin, the award Pagliuca received is given out to only one female in the world per year.

"She's very good with power for a 12-year-old girl," he said. "She can break four to five boards with one strike."

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