Monica Tello competes in Chinese Sanshou martial arts

Monica Tello, right, trains at United Martial Arts Training Center for Sanshou competitions in China. (Photo by Luke Backus)

One 2005 Frenship High School graduate leads a busy life of working full time, going to college and planning to try out for a national martial arts team next year.

Immediately following her high school graduation, Monica Tello started college at Texas Tech University. It was there that she became involved in martial arts.

“I was in a child psychology class, and the professor asked us to tell everyone something no one else knows. After class a gentleman came up and asked me if I was really interested,” said Tello, who had shared with the class her dream of becoming a boxer. The man suggested she start taking free classes at the university recreation center.

“From that point, I started going every day it was offered,” she said.

Tello studied both jujutsu and Sanshou for a semester, and went to China for her first sanshou competition in July 2006.

Monica Tello

Age: 21
Favorite FHS teachers: Deanna Harville and Rodney Hendricks
High school activities: Cross country, track
College major: Exercise science sports
Minor: Spanish

After the competition, she decided to focus solely on sanshou, a Chinese hand-to-hand combat, self-defense system and combat sport.

“It is a full-contact sport. You punch, kick and throw,” said Tello. “It’s just Chinese kickboxing, that’s how I explain it. You do everything that kickboxing does, but we include the throws with that.”

During the trip to China in 2006, Tello toured Beijing with her teammates, trained and competed in Wuhan.

“That’s where we had our first tournament against a Chinese team. I lost,” said Tello, adding she was surprised by her opponent’s kicks to her face. “I’m trying to get there, I’m almost there… I can kick that high, but not that fast.”

Tello has since traveled to South Korea and in September, back to China, for more training and competitions. During the September competition, she placed for the first time at third place.

She said she was nervous before her first fight of the competition because she did not know how the other fighters would fight.

“As soon as I threw my first punch, I felt relieved. I felt like I was doing good,” she said. “My coach told me, your hands are good, but you weren’t trying to get the points that you needed.”

Tello said she has learned from the match.

“Hopefully the next time I fight, I need to go all out,” said Tello, noting that she did not push her opponents’ weaknesses as much as she should have when she had a chance.

Next year, Tello said there will be a competition in Canada, and national team trials are tentatively set for San Diego.

Although she wanted to pursue boxing, Tello said “never in a million years” did she think she would be competing in other countries.

“I didn’t even know how to pursue it, to become a boxer. It’s always been something I wanted to do, I just didn’t know who to connect with. I guess it found me,” she said.

When she’s not training, Tello is taking courses at South Plains College, where she said she transferred because she also works full time at American State Bank and Express clothing store.

“They offer more night classes,” she said. She is pursuing a degree in exercise science sports, but hopes to eventually go to medical school.

“I can’t decide whether to be an obstetrician or a medical examiner. I’m leaning toward medical examiner. That’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was tiny.”

Tello also teaches sanshou to beginners at United Martial Arts Training Center.

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