From martial arts to acting, CAPA senior Sundiata El Rice conquers whatever he puts his mind to
“To be young gifted and Black, oh what a lovely precious dream…”
The words to this iconic song by Nina Simone take on an entirely different frame of reference for 17-year-old Sundiata El Rice, a Pittsburgh CAPA high school senior studying theater.
While still in elementary school, between the ages of 8 and 14, he won 25 martial arts special awards comprised of seven state championships, nine national and nine international.
His trophies are too numerous to count for his achievements in Tang Soo Do, a form of Korean martial arts. Like many young men, he was exposed to martial arts via his exposure to Bruce Lee movies, the Rush Hour movie series, and, yes, video games.
His grandmother, Aisha White, learned of his interest and took him to C.S. Kim karate school, enrolled him and El Rice took it from there.
El Rice’s mother, Tashia Scott’El Terry, said she was “worried at first because I don’t think he was counting on how demanding it would be. And he was unaccustomed to taking discipline from a man such as his instructor. And truthfully, it did take him awhile to adjust. And just before he won his first competition, I saw it come together for him.”
“Martial arts became the tool to help me deal with many of the things I was going through personally, like the fact that the man my mother married turned out to be mean and abusive,” El Rice revealed in an interview with the New Pittsburgh Courier. “This training became a way for me to vent and express some of the anger I was holding.”