Your martial arts journey started with your first step on to the training floor.
This is the place in your journey where you can make a difference. Many people believe karate or martial arts is just about kicking and punching. You now know it is much more. You know it is a journey of potential. Please take some time to share your journey the good times and the hard times in your training and how it has led you here. How it helped you see the world around you and make better decisions. Please do not rush this part as it can make such an impact on so many you can inspire.
If you are reporting on your journey as part of your black belt project please remember to link to google or yelp.(You will need to create an account) Links are below.
For a while now, my daughter Ella has been taking karate. Not to long after Andrea had this great idea to enroll Ava as well. It has been amazing to watch them grow in their Martial Arts. After a few years of sitting there watching, sometimes playing on my phone I was approached my Mr.H. Mr.H had asked me a few times to try to get me to come out on the mat. Finally one day I said yes. I walked out feeling nervous and a little intimidated. For the first week or two I felt a little awkward. For the weeks that followed I felt more comfortable each time. I started to have fun and was learning all types of self defense moves. I learned how to throw a punch properly and even learned how to properly do a kick. I have also made a bunch on new friends in this time period. A little of 3 years later here I am trying to get my black belt. It has been a long journey that I never thought I would reach. I look forward to achieving more than just my black belt in the years to come.
I started attending classes at Action Karate Cinnaminson purely by accident (as I’m sure many of my adult classmates experienced as well) – I was encouraged to attend a free class during the month of May as a ‘moms attend free’ promotion. My kids had just enrolled recently after taking a 1 week class in their after school programs, and I was perfectly content watching their class, or sitting on my phone reading an e-book. At some point, Mr. Brenner came over to talk to me while the kids were on the mat, and mentioned that there was an adult class right after the kids’ class the next night we were planning to be there. I thought, “oh, why not, we’ll already be here anyway”, so the next time I brought the kids to karate I brought some stretchy pants and a t-shirt, sucked it up, and stepped out onto the mat. I was introduced to Ms. Mary and Ms. Marla, who both helped me through the first class. At the end of class, I was given homework. I guess once you’re given an assignment, you’re expected to show up again – so I did. I memorized the words we recite at the beginning of every class, said them out loud at the next class, and earned my first belt.
I thought it was pretty cool, but still wasn’t sure how long I’d stick with it. Eventually, that white belt turned into a yellow belt, and I realized I was enjoying myself. Our family is very busy, and our activities revolve around what the kids are doing. There’s not really time for me to go off and join a gym or anything, but if I’m already at AKC for the kids class, I can easily step onto the mat and get in a 45 minute workout a few times a week while my kids get to hang out with their friends. I work in an office, regular 9-5 weekday schedule, and getting up to move just doesn’t happen as often as it should. Getting myself to karate a few times a week was a great help in keeping me active. I was learning new things each week, and I could feel myself getting a bit stronger – my kicks were getting sharper, squats getting a little deeper, I was able to balance a bit better than before. I still can’t always touch my toes, but my flexibility has definitely gotten better.
Taking karate classes has inspired me to pay better attention to my body/health outside of class as well – when my co-workers take the elevator up 2 floors, I try to take the stairs instead. I’ve participated in the monthly health challenges – no added sugar, making smoothies, trying out a vegan diet for a week. Those challenges have helped me realize that there are things I can add or remove from my regular meals to work on better fuel for my body. I’ve sought out new recipes and new ideas to get more vegetables into my meals. I’m using an app on my phone to track my meals for the day to make sure I’m not eating too much (or too little) in a day, and tracking my water intake, which helps remind be when I’m not hydrating enough each day. I’ve even become more conscious of my posture when sitting at my desk during the day.
The other students and the instructors at this school are SO supportive – we’re always reminded, especially at each belt promotion night, that we’re not being compared to the person on the mat who can kick higher than their head and do 50 one-handed pushups in under 1 minute… we’re being compared against ourselves, and only ourselves. That’s a very important message for a 30-something mom who barely exercises and was never involved in sports during school. My athletic ability has never been that great, and I’ve never been good at team sports, so having something to keep me active, while also feeling like I belong there even though I’m a work in progress, has been a great thing for me. I’ve watched my kids make great friends over the years through karate, and in turn, I’ve become friends with the other parents. For an introvert, that’s a pretty big thing.
About 2 years into training, I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd child. After sharing the information with Mr Brenner and Mr McQuade, and making sure my doctor cleared the activity, I kept coming to class, with some modified exercises. It had been almost 10 years since my previous pregnancy, and I knew it was important to keep active, to make sure my body could handle the stress of pregnancy at my ‘advanced maternal age’ (the OBGYN’s label, NOT MINE). The classes got harder as my belly got bigger, but I stuck with it. We did have to modify some of the sparring drills so my midsection wasn’t in danger of being hit, but I was still able to keep up with the rest of the class as needed, even getting through belt promotions. Little did I know I was going to be earning my Brown/Black belt 3 days before I went into labor. I definitely think that the continued workouts at karate helped me get through that weekend. I was exhausted, unable to sleep, and dealing with erratic labor pains, but kept reminding myself that I was strong enough to get through it. I’m also pretty sure that all the time spent doing squats and holding horse stance helped when I had to start pushing. 🙂
After giving birth, I had to take some time to recover, but kept coming to AKC because the kids still had to get to their classes. Everyone in that building happily welcomed our new family member as their own, with Mr. B & Mr. M. even gifting Sawyer his own tiny uniform! I think I waited about 4 months before I was cleared by my doctor and felt strong enough to come back to class. I may have been wearing a brown belt, but I felt like I was starting over again as a white belt. There were new students on the mat that I hadn’t met yet, and it seemed like everyone knew exactly what they were doing while I was struggling. Nevertheless, I was reminded time and time again that I needed to compare myself only against myself. I might have felt hopeless, but I just had a baby! I took it slow, and eased back into it, sometimes only getting to class once a week because that was all I could handle, but I started feeling the strength coming back, and the muscle memory returning on some of the moves.
Throughout injuries and maternity leave, from white belt up to red/black belt, I have felt support coming from everyone I’ve worked out with. We have been taken in like family, and I can’t imagine not having Action Karate Cinnaminson as a place to go after a hard day at work, where I can sweat out whatever is stressing me, or get my heart pumping after being stuck behind a desk for 8 hours. This has been a great group to find, and I’m still amazed that I’ve been able to come this far.