No one will want to mess with this young girl with Down syndrome after she received a black belt in mixed martial arts.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree as 8-year-old Eva Hardy’s mom Lisa, 46, and older sister Maria, 14, both have black belts as well.
Eva has been training in martial arts since 2013 and received the black belt with her sister last year. During a ceremony last month, she was presented with the honor.
"I am so proud of her,” Lisa said. “[She] has progressed the same as everyone else. She absolutely loves it.”
Lisa said Eva enjoys the training and it has taught her discipline and respect for others, as well as confidence.
Her mom said the 8-year-old has started to introduce herself to people and has made more friends since she began training.
The sport has also helped her gain muscle tone, which is normally low among people with Down syndrome.
"A lot of children don't get that representation and the more encouragement, support and acceptance for them, the better,” Lisa said. "She's the type of girl who won't give up. She just keeps going and going and always perseveres.”
Eva is already training for a second-degree black belt.
One of Eva’s instructors, James Sheehan, said Eva’s positive attitude is nothing short of amazing.
"I don't know if I've seen anything more exceptional than Eva, her character and her strength are just so inspirational,” he said.