So there’s this other side of me, the less understood side, that takes me from petite, funky girly girl to serious opponent in the change of a uniform and donning of gloves. It got my attention and took hold of me a few years ago, first gently leading me by one hand and then, eventually, firmly gripping me from head to toe… It’s my passion for Martial Arts.
I’m not going to go on about whose ass I’ve kicked, whose kicked mine, what I’ve broken (wood and bones) or what Belt level I have achieved, because that doesn’t really matter.
I stepped into the Karate studio after being encouraged, coaxed, persuaded, pushed and dared by my son’s instructor over a period of months of me watching his lessons from behind the glass. I would knit something to pass the time, or just watch, interested at the fluid movements, the self discipline, beyond the glass. Most of all, though, there was a sense of calm within the room amidst the yells, the kicking and punching and the loud booming voice of the instructor. Though there was a heightened physical awareness, an inner peace existed in the room and on the children’s faces. Ok, I could use some of that… not to mention the fact that my exercise plan was non-exixtent, save for a random pilates class and running my boys from here to there. Besides that, I could use some self defense techniques to back up my cocky, mouthy, fearless 5’4″ side that tends to get me into trouble. Here goes nothing. Better get this guy off my back and just do it, just like the damn Nike ad. Sitting here knitting is just going to make my ass widen.
When I look back a few years at my those first weeks and months in Tai Kwon Do, I often feel tears well up, as I recall a time when I was pushed beyond my own expectations of my capabilities by someone who drew out the potential within. You want me to do how many situps and pushups? big girl style? yes maam, until you cry, by the way, but I will help you. Punch like this, look for a target, think before you move, stretch more, now stretch even more. Think more, speak less. Much less. Trust your abilities, practice, focus. Use your whole body and mind, be more aware of others. Be on time, control your movements, respect your opponent, remember to breathe, go harder, engage, don’t be afraid.
You fall into this pattern, I believe, as a parent, where you see your abilities fade from another life, before you had children and slid comfortably into suburbia, carpools, homework and Bunco nights. The serious urge to grow within transfers to that of nurturing and guiding your children to reach their full potential, as it should be. Sort of.
There’s this thing called potential for full self expression that should never fade within, that’s also an important guidepost to our children, showing them that we too can always grow and strive to reach our full potential. This is a great lesson to them as they follow by example. Almost four years after first stepping onto the mat, panicked and awkward, I still have people ask me, even those close to me, why I have committed to something so challenging and outside of the norm for a mom of two boys who should be making cookies, not breaking boards. The answer is easy. I can do both. It’s all about the balance, within and without, that completes us.
Crying over situps is in the past now, thank goodness, but self-improvement is still top of mind for me, even as I take on another form of Martial Arts, Krav Maga, the self defense techniques of the Isreali Defense Forces. Physically demanding and very sweaty, indeed. Less art to it, more street fighting. No one ever drowned in their own sweat though, so I think I’m good. I’m also reading several books on the Art of Aikido, as I broaden my mind and share that knowledge with my children. I will go back to Tai Kwon do, when the time is right, with my instructor, encouraging, as always. Yep… the one that made me do all those situps. By the way, don’t tell my sweet Bunco girlfriends I’d rather be in the MMA studio punching and kicking. I really don’t like to make girls cry unless they’re wearing handwraps and a mouthpiece. Just saying.
If you would like more information on where I train… http://mmaacademy.com/Home_Page.php