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Martial arts can change your life in 48s, if you let it.

Yes it was the 48s of the Nunes vs Rousey fight that I had on my mind when I wrote this post title. Images and commentary about the much publicized  fight were all over social media and got me thinking about how much life can change in a single moment.

Even a moment lasting less than 60s.

Although MMA is currently the top draw card in the popular press when people think of martial arts, it is not what lead me to practice my art.

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Photo: Kuk Sool Won Grandmaster In Hyuk Suh with me at the training Seminar in Dublin, California

Yes, martial arts is fundamentally about fighting. However in a traditional martial art  it’s about using your body as a weapon while also honoring it as a vessel for enlightenment.

Respect, self-discipline, control and increased self-awareness are an integral part of a traditional martial arts journey.

Every person who practices a martial art has their own reasons for doing so and has their own expectations. The teacher and school where you choose to receive your martial arts instruction will set the tone for your training. Finding a school that matches your martial arts world view is what sets you on the path of your martial arts journey.

It’s the moment that you make that decision, which usually happens in the blink of an eye that can change your life… if you let it.

I’ve seen all types make the decision to start but only a special few allow martial arts to change their lives. It’s not just about training, it’s a way of life and when committed, it will change the way you make decisions about the things you prioritize.

So when making resolutions and/or setting goals here are three things that I’ve come to know:

1. Growing and learning is a life-long process

2. When you do the work, you reap the rewards

3. Helping others also helps you.

Whatever your chosen art, embrace it and enjoy the journey.

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The smaller they are,  the further they fly

KSW Quote Smaller fly

It was the strangest feeling being back in class after an unexpected absence. It reminded me of how I felt as a child returning to my family home after being away on an extended excursion.

There was the feeling of familiarity with the surroundings and the procedures along with a sense of affection for objects I had used which was comforting and reassuring but there was also a sense of guilt at shirking my responsibility and neglecting my duty.

Standing in the dojang with my feet on the tape, waiting for class to begin there was the awareness that this was a place to grow and be nurtured but also a place to challenge oneself and strive to continuously improve.

There was also a hint of anxiety about whether I would remember my forms and techniques when illness had prevented me from revising between classes as I usually would.

I have learned so much and experienced so many new things and challenges that I sometimes forget that my martial arts journey is still in its embryonic fourth month stage.

“Cha Ryuht” Master Saidi calls us to attention and the class responds in unison with a resounding “Yes Sir!”

Training begins and I cautiously go through the manoeuvres testing my still recovering body to see how well it can withstand the required demands.

My training partner and I start working through our techniques and realise that we are going to need some guidance and revision on the last one we learned.

My training partner and I at the dojang

My training partner and I at the dojang

Master Saidi happily helps us through the technique and simultaneously reminds us about the importance of persistent practice.

Then to keep us on our toes he teaches us a new technique. Growing and learning – that’s the journey.. He then also explains to us why the technique is designed to help us handle an opponent who is physically stronger and of course has a quote to help us drill it into our minds.

“The bigger they are the harder they fall. The smaller they are the further they fly,” he quipped.

The first sentence is very familiar to most – even to me as a non sports oriented type it was something I’d heard my Grandfather often say but the latter part was new and so apt for our setting.

It connected with me both literally and figuratively. Being short of stature myself I actually do feel like Kuk Sool Won has taught this small person to fly. It has released me from my self created cage of sporting inadequacy and allowed me to step into a new realm of self discovery and started me on a journey to reach new heights.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

Celebrating successes, big or small

Happy to participate! Children from the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School

Happy to participate! Children from the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin School

Life is a journey and we choose our paths – sometimes the predictable, frequently travelled trails  call to us and offer a semblance of safety and security. Other times we are challenged to be trailblazers – to go to unexplored terrain -it’s risky and sometimes crazy but can lead us to places we never imagined possible.

When I ducked under the tape at a recent martial arts tournament nobody was more surprised than me. There I stood opposite a little martial artist who was cuteness personified. We were the oldest and youngest competitors representing our school, Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California in the white belt category.

The words of our Kuk Sool Won Master Saidi were running through my mind “As long as you do your best, you are already a winner, whether you are awarded medals or not”.

We were both starting our martial arts journeys at very different stages of our lives. We were separated in age by forty years but we were united in a common purpose – to challenge ourselves and explore something new.

Watching her shyly introduce herself to the Judges, bow and then competently perform her techniques was rather inspiring. Such courage and confidence  in someone so young was admirable and made me feel slightly less anxious about my impending performance.

Techniques at tournament. Different ages united by rank.

Techniques at tournament. Different ages united by rank.

Although she was not awarded any podium places her achievement on that day was worth recognition. She had the courage to ship. She received a tournament participation medal which she proudly carried around her neck.

When it was my turn to compete in the 40+ age category I was surprised to see how many other white belts were present. I expected very few thinking that there couldn’t possibly be as many women doing these things at my age. For once I was happy to be wrong! I told a fellow competitor that it may not seem like a good thing that we have so much competition but I think it’s awesome for women and Kuk Sool Won!

This being my first sporting achievement I was very proud of the 3 medals I won for forms, techniques and sparring. They may not seem like a big deal to others but as this was the first sporting achievement of my life I felt it was worth acknowledging.

I may only be a white belt but my ultimate aim is to learn a black belt sword form so I have a long journey ahead of me.

Sometimes the outward recognition of accomplishment can ignite a fire within us to pursue our goals with passion. So to me it means we must celebrate our successes, no matter how small they may seem, as each success is a stepping stone to a better self.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Master Saidi or that of the World Kuk Sool Association.

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