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MONTEREY, Calif. -- The reigning Women's World Martial Arts Champion is bringing her championship drive and spirit to her studies at the Center for Information Dominance (CID) Unit Monterey.
Electronics Technician 3rd Class Sonie Lasker, a student assigned to the CID Unit Monterey and attending the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC) to learn the Persian language known as Farsi, is not only excelling at her studies, she is sharing her knowledge, discipline and experience of the martial arts to fellow servicemembers on and off the mat.
Before joining the Navy in 2010, Lasker was the team captain of the United States Martial Arts Team. She competed in more than 500 tournaments worldwide and was a 14-time world champion.
At the end of the 2010 World Martial Arts Games, Lasker was standing on the podium receiving another gold medal. As the national anthem played, she was overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude to the United States for having the freedoms that allowed her to achieve so much.
After so many years of having the freedom to compete, and the honor of representing the United States in world competition, Lasker felt this overwhelming compulsion to give something back to her country that had given her so much.
In that moment, at the age of 38, she decided to join the Navy.
As an older student, Lasker explained how the life of a martial artist is similar to military life and what made her choose the Navy as the branch of service she would serve in.
"Martial arts and life in the military go hand in hand," Lasker said. "Martial arts are of high moral character and focus on the same core values as the Navy; honor, courage and commitment."
Since arriving at DLIFLC, Lasker has taught Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Judo, and grappling to service members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps five days a week at the Price Fitness Center on the Presidio of Monterey. In addition, after only two weeks in class, her teaching staff recognized her as a 1+ student in speaking the foreign language she is attending at DLIFLC.
A (1+) in speaking characterizes spoken-language use. On a scale from zero to five, each higher level implies control of the previous levels' functions and accuracy.
Lasker maintains a 4.0 grade point average in her foreign language class and spends time on weekends tutoring other students, which she was encouraged to do by her teachers. She also continuously strives to help build unit cohesiveness and supports the morale of her fellow servicemembers.
"The responses that I've been receiving from the students here at DLIFLC, who come to my sessions [martial arts and tutoring], have been very humbling," Lasker said.
"I'm extremely appreciative of Petty Officer Lasker taking the time to help me understand how to read Farsi," Seaman Adrienne Weaver said.
"The tools that she has provided me during our Jiu-Jitsu training sessions is something I will take with me and use in my everyday life," Lance Cpl. Elvis Costa said.
As a black belt and national certified trainer in martial arts, Lasker has the authority to rank her students to the level of white belt. Since her training sessions began in 2012, she has ranked eight servicemembers.
In August 2012, Lasker heard about the 2012 U.S. Open Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Tournament taking place at Independence High School in San Jose, Calif. She started training her students for the competition.
After only two months, the team, called the Joint Service Martial Arts Machado Fight Team, was ready for the competition on Oct. 6, 2012.
There were more than 800 competitors and each match lasted about five minutes. There were broken lips, bleeding, and dislocated joints within the first hour.
"There were a lot of injuries going on that I saw," Lasker said. "Luckily, the way that we train is to avoid major injuries. One of our competitors had a split lip, but that was the extent of it."
Every competition was intense and every white-belt gave it his/her all. They attempted to apply joint-locks, chokeholds, and pull guard as well as mount their opponents or throw them on their backs. All of the competitors from DLIFLC competed for more than six hours.
After the students were done competing, Lasker congratulated her students.
"I am so proud of them," she said. "They worked so hard, were respectful, remained combative and showed their training. They did a great job."
CID is the Navy's Learning Center that leads, manages and delivers Navy and Joint Force training in information operations, information warfare, information technology, cryptology and intelligence.
With a staff of nearly 1,300 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID oversees the development and administration of more than 226 courses at four commands, two detachments and 14 learning sites throughout the United States and in Japan. CID provides training for approximately 24,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services and Allied Forces each year.