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Renee Martin
Class of 2010
World Champion of Martial Arts

Renee Martin is a 2010 alumna of Saint Paul’s and her family was a staple here with three girls attending Saint Paul’s over a span of two decades. Renee was strongly influenced by her father who was the first American to win a world championship in Martial Arts in Okinawa, Japan in 1995 (the year she was born) and this began her passion in the sport. 

During her time at Saint Paul’s, Renee participated in volleyball, basketball and softball. Grateful for being a part of this tight knit community with support that extended beyond her graduation, Renee said, “Saint Paul’s prepared me for my future, first Clearwater Central Catholic High School and then college at the University of South Florida where I am finishing a Masters Degree in Speech Therapy. I feel that the education and environment at Saint Paul’s was filled with camaraderie and support, so much so that I will never be able to match it again. I still remember my teachers, and keep in touch with several who continue to support me and follow my journey through social media.”

Renee began training and competing in Karate and Martial Arts at a very young age. Her desire to expand her cultural growth began in the Saint Paul’s library where she listened to presentations and guest speakers who influenced her learning about other cultures. She specifically recalled a visit from a tribal group who played the didgeridoo. Renee said, “I realized the world is a much bigger place than what I had experienced. I was also learning both Spanish and French in Middle School where kids from other schools never had this opportunity. In addition, some of the project based learning gave me insight into other cultures.”

Her first trip to Japan was at the age of 15 with her Dad and from that point on, she knew she would return to compete. In 2016 she had the opportunity to travel back and stay with a Japanese family for three months, living with the family of the Grand Master of her style of martial arts. She was immersed in the culture and did everything she could to be a part of her host family. She forged many good relationships during that time.

In 2018 she competed in her first traditional Karate world championship in Japan. After training here with her father, she traveled by herself and stayed with another competitor, who was also her friend from Canada. This friend was her biggest rival, so it was an interesting experience and an awesome opportunity for them to face together. They trained together for a week and then began competition. Renee was named the champion and her friend won 2nd.

Next semester she will have the chance to work with babies in the NicU, an experience she is really excited about. Once she completes her degree in Speech Therapy she plans to work with adults in a rehabilitation facility.