I'm 6 weeks into a beginner, one credit martial arts course at American University.
I spend the hour leading up to my first class obsessively reminding my roommate that I'm taking a martial arts class.
"Just putting on my sneakers for my martial arts class" I say, not knowing yet that I wouldn't even need sneakers.
There are a lot of electives in college. Classes like "The History of Drugs, Sex and Rock n Roll" and "The Psychology of Dating" are attractive to many. But a Beginner's Martial Arts? Not everyone's first choice.
So how did a 21-year-old-maryland-born-sorority-girl-film-major end up in a dojo? I'm a curious person. I do what I want. And what I wanted to do this semester was learn the art of martial fighting.
I had zero interest in martial arts until I started watching a tv show that featured very specific styles of ancient Chinese martial arts. Then it started talking about chi and chakras and other words that are fun to say. Then I started to research it more and more and because fascinated. I thought it was so interesting how the body, soul and mind could be improved so drastically by the ancient practice of martial fighting.
Growing up with four older brothers, I had to learn how to stand my ground at a young age.
I learned that 1. long nails are vital for self-defense and 2. everyone has a ticklish spot.
Even though I didn't realize it until now, my childhood actually consisted quite a bit of martial arts. I attended my older brother's karate lessons and would try to follow along while my mom waited with the other parents (mom you should have seen I was a prodigy then why didn't you push me harder). I spent many hours watching my brothers play Final Fantasy and K.O. on Play Station. When I picture myself as a child, I see a young girl with sticks in her hair and mud on her face crouching in my creek plotting out my next big move in the neighborhood pine cone war. I remember sitting in the basement watching my brother James do knuckle pushups and he would show me the machete he kept in his closet (he's a really peaceful guy I promise). I'm just now starting to realize it sounds like I had quite the violence-filled childhood for a sweet suburban family of 8, but don't worry. My brothers would always "turn down the gore setting" on Grand Theft Auto when I came downstairs to watch them play. We weren't barbarians!
ANYWAY, despite my half-baked warrior princess of the Maryland bamboo forests childhood, I'd never been into fighting. Anyone who knows me knows I prefer to live my life conflict-free, I'm a mediator. I'm not going to even pretend to act like I know even the basics of Martial Arts, I really don't, I'm such a newbie. But in the 6 weeks I've been learning, it's transformed my life in ways that are hard to describe.
Taking a Martial Arts course will be the most humbling yet most empowering thing you'll ever do. This didn't sink in until we received our uniforms, the "gi". I wasn't ready for the gi. Up until this point, my fellow pupils and I were just wearing work out clothes to class. But one day we walk in and they hand us our uniforms. We all trade in our Nike and Under Armour apparel for the fresh, stiff, pearly white gis. They teach us how to properly tie a belt (which I'm still practicing).
Look here's a picture of me in mine!!!!!! Pretty sure they had to order one made for a 5th grade boy for me!!!!!!!!!! Mirror pix 4 lyfe.
I'm ashamed to say, that my first thought was, "oh wow, I have to walk through my college gym wearing this?!" My fresh white gi and pearly white belt weren't exactly the coolest thing to be seen in. Which is stupid of me to even think, because gis are a sacred uniform and should be worn with pride. But being a white belt means I'm a beginner, and beginners aren't cool. I know they say an expert in anything was once a beginner, but I forgot how humbling being a beginner at something actually is.
Moral of the story? Seize the day. Take your martial arts class, whatever that is to you.
Do something you're interested in, create room to discover new passions. Do something unusual! Sling shot yourself out of your warm, fuzzy comfort zone.
Martial Arts is great because it challenges me to keep myself healthy (mentally and physically), teaches me self-defense and a specific set of skills. If putting "orange belt in Korean Tae Kwon Do" on my resume is wrong I don't wanna be right. Just kidding. Maybe.
P.S. Shout out to my roommates for smiling and nodding as I show them what I learned in class. I know you don't care, but the smiling and nodding makes me feel loved and special.