Martial Arts: Not Just Defense
This weekend I will be testing for my black belt after eight years of Taekwondo classes. During those eight years, I’ve grown into the person I am today. Not only have I learned how to kick, punch, and block, but I have learned compassion, respect, and confidence. Each Saturday, I spend hours practicing self defense, meditating, sparring or even teaching entire classes. It is one of the most rewarding activities I have ever participated in (and prevents the extracurricular section of my college apps from remaining blank). Unfortunately, the only aspect of taekwondo, or martial arts of any kind, that people pick up on for women, is self defense.
For example, one day this past year, I participated in a jujitsu class: “Kick her Brian! She’s a black belt!” cried out the instructor as my kicker obviously decreased power on his kick. Again. "When you are fighting a woman, kick her! They are here to learn and if they’re going to have to defend themselves in a real situation, they’re not going to have someone lessening a blow because they feel sorry for them.” The other woman in the room nods her head in agreement.
There it is, my biggest pet peeve. Self defense is an invaluable skill, but had I joined only for that reason I feel I would not have learned nearly as much. Yet on a regular basis when I tell others, especially women, that I study Taekwondo, they usually tell me how happy they are to see a young woman learning to defend herself.
Taekwondo is just like any other sport. It requires thought and physical application. If you were to play tennis, would you limit yourself to only returning a serve? If you were to play basketball, would you limit yourself to only blocking someone else’s shot? Probably not. With any other sport, if you were to limit yourself to only defense, you would be missing out on the majority of skills that sport offers. The martial arts are no different. By learning each and every aspect, self-defense will only be strengthened.
Don’t do martial arts just because you want to defend yourself. Do it because it is a full bodied activity. Do it because you wanna kick ass.
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