gmhTODAY Fall 2021 | Page 40

Linda Pulido : A Born Fighter and

A Community s Champion

By Kimberly Ewertz Photos by Tony Scotino

Native Gilroyan , Linda Pulido , proved she was a fighter before she was even born . “ My mom would say that she could feel me punching and kicking in the womb ,” Pulido said , showcasing a smile that lights up her face . “ I was doing my famous side kick in her stomach .”

That side kick is a signature move in Pulido ’ s martial arts practice , which she discovered her sophomore year of high school , after she and her friends joined a martial arts class — the same friends that got her involved in skipping school and starting fights . Pulido ’ s instructor , aware of her reputation , decided to teach the 14-year-old a lesson and entered her in a competition in the black belt division even though Pulido was a gold belt at the time . me feel good that I was helping .”
Helping children is Pulido ’ s calling and her students , ( of all ages ), certainly agree . Andrew Sullivan , 17 , began Taekwondo classes when he was twelve , and was recently promoted to Assistant Instructor . “ She ’ s been an amazing mentor and she ’ s really taught me how to be a leader through it and how to teach the younger ones about martial arts ,” Sullivan said .
Amanda Guevara began her training at 14 , and nearly twenty years later she credits Pulido with one of her greatest accomplishments . “ I consider getting my black belt as one of my top five proudest moments of my life ,” Guevara said . “ Ms . Pulido was actually there with me when I tested for my belt .”
“ So here I am , in there with these black belts and I clean house and take second place ,” Pulido said , with a grin . “ I remember sleeping with that trophy . I knew this was the feeling that I wanted to feel .”
That win changed Pulido ’ s path , inspiring her to never stop challenging herself . The countless trophies she ’ s garnered over nearly four decades fill her home and studio . But she ’ s most proud of the twenty-nine World Championship gold medals she ’ s won in Eskrima , a Filipino style of martial arts . “ Martial arts teaches you the discipline to show up , the heart to never give up , and to always , always , have that goal , that hunger , that drive ,” Pulido said .
After being promoted to instructor , Pulido was inspired to do her best for others .“ When you ’ re teaching something and they get it , and you ’ re a part of that , wow ,” she said . “ It made
Gloria Calill , 87 , credits Pulido with her strength and mobility . “ As long as she ’ s got a class , I ’ m there ,” Calill said . “ I walk like I own the world .”
Considering the influence she ’ s had on her students it ’ s hard to believe this dynamo could have chosen any other profession , but she almost did . In the early 80 ’ s with the urging of a friend , Pulido auditioned for a martial arts fighting series . Out of three hundred fighters , one hundred and twenty-five were selected . Pulido was the only female . “ My name was Black Diamond … everyone played a character and each week fighters would compete to stay on the show ,” she said .
And the opportunities kept coming . Pulido received an offer of a second season of the series in addition to a contract to play an animated character in a film . But fate intervened and served a crushing blow when a group of kids careened into
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