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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.


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.

Done is better than perfect- my first Kuk Sool Won public demo

Our Kuk Sool Won school has a select group of students chosen to do demonstrations. They are chosen because of their dedication, skill and commitment.

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Kuk Sool Won, yellow belt form, demo in the park

Every second Saturday of the month they meet to train together and practice. They are all black brown belts and their exemplary behavior has earned them a spot on the team.

At their last training session however there were two unlikely guests with the rank of blue stripe. They had been asked to join in the training for a particular public demo to illustrate the point that gender and age should not be a limiting factor in a martial arts journey. I was one of those blue stripes.

Since I had just celebrated my 45th birthday it was a fun way to mark the occasion. When I first pitched for the demo training class one of the black brown belt students looked at me incredulously. “You’re doing a demo?” he asked quizzically. “Yes” I responded, ” at my age one has to make every moment count!”

Fortunately I was doing the form along with my training buddy Ramya. I thought she was rather brave to appear in public doing a martial arts form alongside me. She is very energetic, fit and spirited so doing extra training together was great.

The demo was held on a hot and sunny afternoon at a nearby park. It was Community Night at the local Farmers’ Market. The demo team did an excellent job. They clearly were much more familiar with the requirements than I was.

When our turn came I surprisingly didn’t feel too anxious and initially started off well. We were about half way through when things went a bit awry and I kicked with the wrong leg!

At least I managed to smile at my error and move on. Our fellow participants were very complimentary and encouraging. My kids, dressed in their doboks were excited to be there and my sweet husband came straight to the venue after work to offer me support.

We had a second opportunity to do our form and lo and behold I made the same error the second time around! My performance was far from ideal but being there was already a challenge overcome. I still felt a sense of accomplishment and doing the demo in public motivated to keep practicing. We are all growing and learning.

Sometimes done is better than perfect.

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.

Bo staff bliss! A new martial arts weapon for me.

Kuk Sool Won class number 4. I was beginning to think that the other mature female white belt that I was told was in the class was a myth but I finally got to meet her yesterday.

Doing unusual things on your own can make you look crazy but doing them with company makes it look fun!

Have to admit that I wasn’t entirely focused. My lovely neighbour had a medical emergency in the afternoon and after the fire engine and ambulance left I was still rather shaken. Life happens and you cannot be prepared for every eventuality.

So I sat at the back of the dojang (training hall) waiting for the class to begin and tried to steady my breathing. As usual my anxiety levels were starting to climb and I tried not to watch the more advanced students doing their pre-class stretches. Their degrees of flexibility are too intimidating.

Made it through warm up puffing like a steam engine and as flushed as a fresh organic tomato.

I got to learn a new technique with the other white belt. She has a precise and methodical approach and moves gracefully through the required steps. She also enquired about my accent. Yes, I am a South African who left the United Kingdom to live in America where I am now learning a Korean martial art – a multi-national collaboration for personal growth!

Then Master Saidi told the students to get bo staffs at the back of the dojang. They were all brown belts so I was not expecting to get one. “Vanessa, you can get one too” he said. I was so thrilled it felt like Christmas!

Bo staff form no 1 involves learning to hold and rotate the staff without dropping it. Dropping it gets you push ups (although you’re exempt if you’re a white belt).

Ma’m Sahar showed me how to keep my wrists connected and turn my hands to catch and release the staff. “Go slowly in the beginning” she explained “once you’re comfortable with the movement then the speed will follow. ”

I had another Kung fu Panda moment – this is awesome I thought and I actually exclaimed out loud “This is soo cool!!” Bo staff bliss indeed!

Did you have a particularly blissful moment yesterday?

Photo 1: South African in America learning traditional Korean martial arts

Kuk Sool Won Dobok, bo staff and South African flag

Kuk Sool Won Dobok, bo staff and South African flag


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 Won Association.

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