Why I Love Martial Arts
I was kind of a nerd growing up. OK, let’s face it, I was a HUGE nerd. I was a bit “husky”, had straight bangs, glasses, was in the band, made decent grades, etc. As a result, I was a target of people not being very kind to me. I may blog more about my nerdness one day. I also was a bit of an athlete. I played baseball all the way through High School and into College and I played JV Football (I tell people the band bus was more fun than the football bus). By the time I was in High School, it was the early 80s. I still had glasses, but I figured out hair can be parted and styled. I had the 80s feather look going on and thought I was gorgeous. But, as far as protecting myself, my biggest protection was not getting in fights. But, when I was a senior in High School, sure enough, I went to school 2 days and got suspended for 3 days for fighting with another bus driver (students drove buses in South Carolina when I was in HS). More about that too, later…maybe. Anyway, I grew up in a small town and the only thing I knew about Martial Arts was the song Kung Fu Fighting, the TV series Kung Fu, and the occasional Bruce Lee movie in the movie theaters. In other words, my Martial Arts world was pretty small. But, in College, I got into self defense a bit more. We were required to take boxing, wrestling and self defense, among other things my freshman and sophomore year in College (it was a military college). Then, I went to a civilian college for a semester before going to The Citadel where I took a semester of Tae Kwon Do. At The Citadel, where I eventually graduated, I trained a bit around with the guys who took Judo but nothing serious. I was always very curious about Martial Arts and thought I’d love it, and I was always on the periphery of it, but never got really serious about it because it either wasn’t available or I didn’t have time when I wanted to do it. Then, I decided a couple of years ago, at the ripe old age of 45, that it was time. I was either going to do it now or never.
Should you take Martial Arts?
For us it was a great choice. There are a LOT of Martial Arts Types out there. The Martial Arts we got involved in is Classical Jujitsu (the form of the Japenese Samuri in feudal Japan). It is taught by someone that we trust to teach us properly who has had classical training from his instructor who was from Okinawa and was drafted into World War II as a Japanese Combat Swimmer, the precursors to the Navy Seals. Our instructor is a Navy Seal and a 7th Degree Blackbelt. I interviewed him a bit before taking his classes and I realized he had our best interests at heart and this is not only an “Art” but “Life Defense”. He tells us all the time that the best way to win a fight is to not get in one, but if a fight is inevitable, win it. Do what you must to protect yourself and your loved ones. I love that philosophy. He has also told us on many occasions that it isn’t what is around your waist in the form of a belt. It is what is in your heart and your head. There are many schools out there and all of them can award a Black Belt, but, what does that really mean? For some Dojos, it simply means you’ve paid your fees and showed up and learned a few cool things. I love that he makes sure that we know the techniques and are able to perform them and that we also know the reasons for learning them. So, both of my boys, (17 and 15 yrs old) are taking Jujitsu with me and my daughter (12 yrs old) and my son (5 yrs old) are taking karate. It is teaching them discipline, goal setting and also giving them skills they can use for the rest of their lives to be able to defend themselves if necessary.
What to look for in a Martial Arts Studio?
Typically, a Martial Arts Studio (Dojo) will allow you to sit in and observe classes. You may not be able to watch a belt test, depending on the studio. If they only train in closed door sessions or if they require you to sign up first, I would not do that. A good dojo will have an open door policy to allow you to interview the instructors and to also observe classes. Also, look for a dojo that does not emphasize belts but on the knowledge and ability you gain. Belts are a good measure of where you are and what you’ve learned, but, frankly, as our instructor says, it is not about what is around your waist, but what is in your heart and your head. There are so many styles out there also that you can pick what you want to do. Some emphasize weapons, some emphasize kicking, others are more for self or life defense. I chose Jujitsu because it is not as much high kicking and fancy things as it is about how to beat an opponent on a physical and psychological level and using their momentum against them. It is a thinking man’s art that can be practiced late in life. It has also been good to participate WITH my children and they have a goal to shoot for as we learn together. And, as a plug for our fitness programs, I would NEVER have been able to keep up at my age with all the throws, falling and rolling we do had it not been for my finding Beachbody and P90X. Want to do something good for yourself? Get a Beachbody workout program, get in shape, drink Shakeology and sign up to take Martial Arts of some kind or kickboxing at the least. Give it a shot. You just might like it!!