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Solara Speaks - Ode To An Era, School Is Ou

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Ode To An Era, By: Solara Key

It seems like only yesterday that a painfully shy little nine year-old girl, (me,) walked into the Shorin Ryu Martial Arts School of Sensei Jimmie Hayes. In fact, Sensei Hayes will tell you, I was so shy he didn’t think I would last through the week!

SolaraTwo years later, I won my first national tournament in sparring, and met Mr. Bob Wall. Later that year, I became a Junior Correspondent for World Black Belt, and have been ever since. This year, I will be graduating from Siegel High School. Where did the time go?

Elementary school was spent with great teachers, doing fun school stuff, going to karate every night with friends, and preparing for tournaments. I loved it. My parents made sure I tended to business first, and that left little time for television. My mom sat by my side every night while I did my homework. I got into a routine during elementary school that lasted all through my school years. Middle school was spent preparing for my black belt, and still going to tournaments. School became a little harder, but I loved my teachers. I won awards for Language Arts and Math, and maintained a place on the honor roll. I also began to work with Mr. Leo Fong on movies. What a great honor to know him, much less work with him. I also began to train with my own personal Pai Mei, aka Mr. E J. Greer, in Nashville. Six kids were training with him. You had to be tough. Mom would sit on the sidelines and turn her head, so as not to see what he was putting us through. “What doesn’t kill you, will make you tough,” she would say.

High school days…well, as I began to get involved in advanced honors and advanced placement classes, I had to stop my classes with Mr. Greer and our drives to Nashville. I found that I could not go long without having some form of martial arts in my life, so I began taking Muay Thai and Boxing at Guardian Mixed Martial Art, which was close to home. It was fun diversifying my martial art styles. I also met and worked with Ron and Charl Anne Pohnel on their movie, “Drifter, TKD” during my high school days.

Summers seem to present new and exciting chapters in my Book of Life. Ever notice how people will appear in your life, and something so good will come out of meeting those people? This past summer, Mr. Wall connected me with Pepper Jay and John Michael Ferrari in Los Angeles. What a team! They are some of the best acting coaches/photographers I could ever have the pleasure of working with. We worked (if you can call it work!) for two weeks doing webisodes entitled “Multiple Intelligences” for their website, Actors Entertainment. You can check them out at: 

I had a great line-up of guests, so I know you will enjoy watching it. I also got to meet with veteran actor, Joe Sabatino, on the live on-line show, ActorsE. He was such a nice guy, and very funny. Thank you, Mr. Wall, for connecting me with Pepper and John.

Also, this summer, I went to the Martial Arts Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. I got to see my “big brothers” at Sanbon. You need to check out their awesome shirts at:

Recently, I walked into Peak Physique Nutrition store after weight training one evening, and began a conversation with owner Sherri Wellborn, and one of her trainers and employee, Blake Cline. Sherri was getting ready to do the Beverly International Figure Competition. “You should do it too, Solara” Sherri says. I am happy to report that I decided to compete in the Beverly International Bikini Competition and won 2nd place in my division. I loved it. I mean, after all, isn’t a bikini considered my “girlie side?” This event has become one of the top ten amateur NPC events in the United States. More than 300 athletes from 21 states registered for the show and more than 3000 fans attended. Sportsmanship, camaraderie, superb organization and a respectful audience that cheered their friends and loved ones made this a great event that I will look forward to competing in again. Beverly presented a check for $25,000 from the ticket proceeds to Shriner's Hospitals for Children. That is awesome.

So now, this born and bred southern girl from the great state of Tennessee, home of Charlie Daniels and Jack Daniels, has been accepted into the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles California. My mom, dad, and I, along with Heidi, Taka, and Spike, will be moving. My parents want me to have a home out there. We already have some great friends in California, and my brother and his family live there as well, so I know the transition will be easier because of them. Among a few of the things I will miss… the Tennessee Springs and Falls, our fun family holiday reunions and dinners on the ground. We have become such a large family, that we have to have our dinners at the church dining room! Wonder if they will even miss us? I will miss working and visiting with the Southern Cross Boston Terrier Rescue. And, while I am on the subject, PLEASE, if you don’t have time for an animal, don’t get one. If you will be so kind as to go to youtube and type in Southern Cross Boston Terrier Rescue…. please watch the short video we did. It is very sad.

I will be graduating with honors from Siegel High School. We cannot say the “G” word around our house, as mom begins to cry. “I cried when you went to kindergarten, Solara, what do you think this is doing to me!” she blubbers. Ya’ll keep me in your prayers as I am on my way to a new journey in life.

This is Solara signing off. 

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For two decades Bob Wall was a force on the tournament circuit placing 1st or 2nd in every major karate championship from 1965 to 1972. Mr. Wall was also a member of the legendary quintet of Chuck Norris, Mike Stone, Joe Lewis, and Skipper Mullins sweeping the world professional titles for 1970, 71, & 72.

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