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Martial arts: you can do it, this is your invitation!

You have the freedom of choice. You can choose to take action or be overwhelmed by your imagined shortcomings and do nothing.

JT IM high five

Photo 1: A high five at Kuk Sool Won Testing Day after a successful board break

Recently my ten year old son asked me whether he could audition for his elementary school’s variety show. I was somewhat surprised as he tends to shy away from the limelight.

He needed three other students to participate and thankfully there were ten others including  my seven year old daughter, who were more than willing to share their love for Kuk Sool Won martial arts with their peers. They called themselves the Kuk Sool Crew.

It was heartwarming to see them band together and practice. They were filled with enthusiastic energy and their excited smiles when they got together were a joy to behold.

Their eagerness to try something different was  inspiring. Although they were nervous it didn’t stop them from taking a chance.

We all have choices to make and chances to take every day. I had always wanted to do martial arts but I thought my age would be too much of a limitation. It took someone to invite me to try before I began my martial arts journey at Kuk Sool Won of Dublin, California.

An invitation from the school was a catalyst for my kids and their peers to try something different. An invitation from their martial arts Master triggered the start of my Kuk Sool Won adventure.

There are numerous martial arts styles including Karate, Jui Jitsu, Taekwondo, Hapkido, Kung Fun, Wushu and Jeet Kune Do to name but a few. I started out trying Tai Chi too. If you check out the newly launched Martial Nation website you can see the multitude of options.

VT and EA

Photo 2: My training buddy Eveline and I at the Kuk Sool Won of Dublin dojang in California

You can choose to stay on the sidelines and dream or you can launch yourself into the fray. The choice and the decision is yours.

There aren’t always obvious invitations to create the spark that ignites us into action but if you need one then here it is!

If you’ve ever dreamed of trying martial arts – this is your invitation! The universe is inviting you – will you accept?

The only permission you need to follow your dreams is your own.

Sparring – your hands are weapons too!

KSW Quote Bruce Lee swim

We can’t see into the future, as Pocahontas says, we don’t know what awaits us just around the river bend. Sometimes a day can unexpectedly change into something completely unanticipated.

When I awoke on Friday morning I had no idea that by that Friday evening I would be attending my first sparring class! My Kuk Sool Won Master told me that he had gone to collect more sparring gear and had a set for me too!

Sparring class is the closest environment to being in a real altercation, without actually fighting. It has the specific purpose of allowing you to sharpen your skills and practice things like controlling distance, balance, timing, speed, agility and focus in addition to being a fantastic cardiovascular and muscle endurance training session.

Friday is usually the day that my kids go sparring. My son took to it a lot more readily than my daughter did who not surprisingly was a bit fearful. Nobody likes to intentionally put themselves in a situation where they could get hurt.The clincher for her though was when she discovered that she could get pink sparring gear. Anything pink in her book is a winner.

So contrary to the customary laid back Friday evenings that we usually have after a busy week –  I was off to class again.

My sparring gear was red. I wasn’t initially sure whether the red or black would be better. Red for power or black for wisdom – a combination of those would be great! After donning the gear I saw myself in the mirror – my first thought was of the Michelin man!

We were reminded that the objective was not to cause injury. Control and etiquette were prerequisites for this engagement. Points were scored by light contact in the designated zones on the chest guard, on the sides of the helmet and above the belt location.

Master Saidi suggested that we think of sparring class like creating a book. In the usual class we learn forms and techniques which are like letters and words. In a sparring situation we learn to put the letters together and make sentences with the words creating a coherent story and producing our own book. Forms and techniques are woven together to create a tapestry of skills that can be applied in any conflict situation.

After the first round I already resembled a very ripe tomato in a rain shower even if I hadn’t been wearing a red helmet! The Victorian phrase “Horses sweat, men perspire and ladies glow” came to mind but I felt much more like the horse!

Students were also told to watch their sparring partners’ eyes. They certainly are windows to the soul and give clues as to intent, focus and approach of your opponent.

We got a chance to switch partners and every interaction was different. The more advanced students offered suggestions and gave opportunities to help me understand what I needed to do without bringing all their superior skills to bear on the newbie. I was very grateful for that!

I am a conflict averse person by nature but the way I responded to sparring class surprised me – I thoroughly enjoyed it! I think I have the advantage of having had an older brother to interact with as a child, that as a teenager I au paired for a family with two little boys who loved duels and that I am raising my son who loves practicing his Kuk Sool Won techniques on me – it certainly boosts your confidence when squaring up to a stranger.

Martial arts weapons look so impressive but sparring class reminded me that your hands and legs are weapons too! Throwing punches and kicks strategically and getting out of the way fast was exhausting but exhilarating! It’s another interesting journey of self-discovery.

To be safe we lose the chance of ever knowing – what’s around the river bend” ~Pocahontas

My new red sparring gear

My new red sparring gear

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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