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The Clarion-Ledger

Olympic gold is on the mind of a 23-year-old martial arts instructor.

With the 2020 Summer Olympics including karate for the first time, Ian Turner has the opportunity to join the first U.S. karate team, along with four of his students.

Ian, from the small town of Bailey, was selected to compete at the World Martial Arts Games for the United States Martial Arts Team in September. Participants at the competition will be chosen to represent the U.S. at the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Related: Mississippian one step away from Olympic gold

Ian, who graduated from William Carey University majoring in speech and social science, began training in karate at seven years old.

Martial arts inundated the pop culture of the ’80s and ’90s, with films like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “Karate Kid” and movies featuring Jackie Chan and Chuck Norris. Ian laughed as he admitted that such movies made him interested in martial arts, and that he initially “just wanted to beat somebody up.”

His mentality quickly changed when he realized the intensity and beauty of martial arts at his first lesson. For the first seven years of his career, Ian trained for four to six hours a day for five days a week, taking four different classes a day.

As Ian’s love for martial arts grew, his family quickly joined him. His father, Kenneth, and younger sister, Brittany, began taking lessons. The two other Turner sisters, Kenna, 12, and Elise, 6, also take martial arts. Their mother, Sheila, does not practice but supports her husband and children at events and encourages them to master their forms.  

Kenneth said martial arts became a “centerpiece” to the Turner family. They went to competitions together, trained together and Ian said they are each other’s “biggest competition.” 

More: Former Ole Miss athlete heading to Olympics

Brittany, 19, who started training at age 3, said she had never known anything other than martial arts.

“It’s the normal thing for our family; we are all close today because of it,” Brittany said. 

At the age of 16, what Ian intended to be a small seminar to instruct other children in martial arts turned into him opening his own dojo. Turner Shotokan, in Collinsville, is run by the family with Kenneth, Ian and Brittany instructing. 

“We do everything as a family,” Ian said.

At Turner Shotokan, Ian said they concentrate on teaching martial arts in an applicable way to students ranging from 6 to 40.

“I want to make sure my students get a good workout…