For most of us, at some point in our lifetime before discovering the Australian Martial Arts Academy, we have all heard the words ‘martial arts’ and probably thought, “Well, that sounds tough. Better not mess with people who do that thing.” Like me, most of us probably assumed it was a tough, sweaty, male dominated sport filled with big muscles and lots of testosterone induced fighting. Definitely not a hobby for a 40kg, 20 year old who faints on a hot summer day; silly silly.
I discovered AMA through my little sister’s friend when she was in primary school, whose mother talked about a ‘fun Karate school for kids in Auburn’. I was not buying it. Eventually though, my little sister’s friend had joined and so had she. It was much later, during her green belt grading to be specific, that I discovered AMA taught Taekwondo, and it was not just a fun school for kids, but also teenagers and adults.
I am sure at this point you are thinking, so did I join too? And if so, what made me join? Well, to anyone who has visited an AMA centre the answer is obvious. From being greeted with warm and welcoming smiles from Miss Sehle or Miss Busra at the front desk, to seeing the bright and vibrant Red Team instructors and hearing the laughter of energetic children in their class lines; the entire hall is filled with a lively, positive vibe that in a simple word could be described as ‘magical’. I felt happy and warm and safe. This was exactly where I was meant to be. Without a word to any of my family and friends of my intentions, I asked for an enrolment form, made my first payment, bought my first ever white dobok and officially joined AMA. I had no second thoughts, no doubts in my mind and felt no hesitation.
Since my first nervous lesson and with the help of my now black belt sister, I have come a long way. I now have a purple belt in Taekwondo, I am learning how to do a ‘tornado kick’, I can do at least 15 pushups instead of 2 before falling on my face and I feel confident about myself. As a final year university student from a home with three teenage girls and a single parent, I speak from experience and with honesty when I say that Taekwondo has unknowingly helped me in almost every facet of my life. My final semester of my teaching bachelor’s began a week ago, and as I hear many other students complain and groan about uni stress, I am beyond excited and ready. I cannot wait to apply the values of determination and confidence I learn each day at Martial Arts, to my uni timetable and kick a pad at the end of a long day. The same also applies with my chaotic home life. My mum is an academic, a uni lecturer and tutor who works over 12 hours most days and heavily relies on teamwork and patience at home. To add my personal life and a pet cat to the mix, most days are hard. But having an outlet such as Martial Arts helps me stop, unwind and realize that life is just that, life. Some have it more difficult than others but the secret, as Mr Hakan says, is to keep bouncing and keep your hands up.
Diverting slightly from the major aspects of my life, as I sit here writing this blog, for the first time I realise all the little changes in my life as a result of Martial Arts. Reflecting back now, when I first joined I had no idea of the impact it would have on my daily life. I feel a little less scared when I am walking home from uni in the dark. I am more confident with approaching people and making friends. I eat better and take more care of my physical well-being. I like to spend more time outdoors. I am stronger, harder around the edges and more flexible. After a long day at uni or in front of a laptop writing an assignment, going to class allows me to unwind and regain my focus. Even my posture has improved, although sometimes I still look like a little spider hunched over a laptop screen….like right now. Each day, I wake up a more motivated and determined person ready to tackle all the obstacles of my day and utilise the values instilled in me through AMA to remain calm and focused in any situation. But most importantly, Martial Arts has helped me become a happier and more confident person, it has helped me learn to love and embrace who I am. They’re absolutely serious when they say “Martial Arts is a way of life”.
To those who have stuck with me until this very last paragraph of my story, I say thank you. To those who have learnt something new and reflected on their own life as a result of my words, I am humbled. Most importantly though, to those who have not yet made up their mind about joining the Australian Martial Arts Academy, in the words of inspirational author Kobi Yamada I say to you, “Sometimes you just have to take the leap, and build your wings on the way down”.