By Zack Peterson
Monique Montoute has always been known for trying as many sports as possible. As a freshman at Academy at the Lakes, Montoute alone was involved in cross-country, played on the softball team and was part of the first all girls soccer team.
“I’m one of those people who tried everything,” Montoute said. “In middle school, I tried every sport.”
But since age 2, Montoute has been involved in karate, and her passion and dedication for the sport has led her to achievements that she will forever be remembered for.
Just last summer, Montoute was inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame for the Caribbean at the age of 15 as an assistant instructor. As of now, she is the youngest female American to do so.
“It’s a very big honor,” Montoute said. “I couldn’t believe it when my name was called because I was so shocked.”
For Montoute, it all started when someone from her dojo, Purple Dragon’s Florida Academy of Don Jitsu Ryu, nominated her to the position.
According to Montoute, they admired her leadership, and Montoute greeted the news with jubilation and appreciation.
“For the first year I was really happy,” Montoute said. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Congrats Monique, you deserve this.’
I always do my best to encourage everyone to be their best,” she said.
However, the sudden success did little to sway Montoute from her precise work ethic.
In her environment, she lives, breathes and dreams karate.
Everybody in the Montoute family is involved in Don Jitsu Ryu karate, and the morals, ethics and codes that comprise it helps set the tone the Montoute family operates under.
Although one might find the discipline challenging, Montoute finds it to be a positive aspect of the family’s dynamic.
“It helps us be better people,” Montoute said. “We’re always going to have little conflicts and fights here and there; no one’s perfect. But we have a lot of discipline and carry ourselves well.
“Having a martial arts background separates you from everybody else in a good way.”
Montoute’s parents have been practicing Don Jitsu Ryu since they were teenagers in Trinidad, and with Montoute’s father being the owner of the Purple Dragon dojo in Florida, Montoute and her younger brother, Pierre, were born into the practice as well.
Though time consuming, being surrounded by karate her entire life has allowed Montoute to excel in Don Jitsu Ryu at a rapid pace.
Montoute received her black belt at age 11, and has since been continuing her training in the hopes of testing soon for her second-degree black belt.
With her high level of skill, Montoute also plays a large role at the Purple Dragon dojo.
“I have to check with them first, but I can quickly take over a class normally taught by a third or fourth-degree black belt if they’re unavailable,” Montoute said. “I think it’d be real cool if one day I could move up to that level and own my own dojo when I’m older.”
But for now, Montoute continues to embrace her passion for Don Jitsu Ryu that has taken her all this way.
“I just hope I can keep up my standards, keep up the training, keep up the good work,” Montoute said. “But for now, I’m not training specifically to become an instructor (in the Martial Arts Hall of Fame), I’m just being myself.”