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When I was nine years old, my father was diagnosed with stage-four stomach cancer. When I was ten, he enrolled me in my very first martial arts class and told me that since he wouldn’t be around to protect me for much longer, I’d have to learn to protect myself. Looking back 11 years after my first Taekwondo class, I have to say it was the best thing he could have done for me.
I think it's so important for women, especially, to learn self defense and foster an immediate reaction to physical harm. The first (and only time) I got attacked by a stranger on the street, I felt a second of immobilizing shock before I was able to snap out of it, register the situation and retaliate. Martial arts condition the body (hello, beautiful arms, legs and abs), but it conditions the mind to maintain that little voice in our head that says, “Hey, I got this.”
It’s definitely intimidating to walk into a male dominated sport as a beginner. It is also daunting to choose just one form of martial art amid the endless options available.
Here are a few tips to find the right fight for you:
• Search local classes with these popular keywords: martial arts, taekwondo, karate, jujitsu, kickboxing, boxing, capoeira, judo, aikido or muay thai. It is imperative that your studio (or dojo) is an easy, short commute to increase the chance that you actually go.
• Narrow down your choices based on location. From there, check out the schedules to see if classes can fit into your personal calendar. Most schools have a flexible drop-in policy, so either call or arrive to a beginner class about 15-20 minutes early and let the instructor know that you’re interested in joining. Wear comfortable workout clothing, long stretch pants and a classic T-shirt is a safe bet. You can even observe if you are feeling a bit shy. Shop around until you feel like you're ready to join a specific school. Having pride in your dojo and having faith in your instructors are so important.
• There is immense satisfaction in throwing kicks and punches. When my friends and I go through tough times with family, jobs, or relationships, my advice is to wrap up the fists, pull on the boxing gloves and go to town on the punching bag. You’re too out of breath to talk in circles, and you feel yourself getting stronger with every technique throw. It’s also recommended to yell. All in all, it’s amazing therapy.
Try it out for yourself, you’d be surprised to discover how fierce you are. Remember, martial arts is a form of art, and art is beauty, so as women we already have an unfair advantage!
Need some inspiration to hit the gym? Read Naomi's last guest blog post!