Mixed Martial Arts

When I was fourteen, I told my mother that I was interested in taking tae kwon do classes. This was shortly after the time I’d stopped watching TMNT on a regular basis. But, perhaps, they had subconsciously prompted my decision to get started in the martial arts.

The venue, Kim’s Martial Arts, is a small sports arena in Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Last time a friend and I drove by there, it seems that nothing has really changed, at least on the outside.  I couldn’t help but feel a little awkward shortly after I began my lessons. Not only was I the sole female in the class, but most of the other students were a good five to six years younger than me. I enjoyed myself for a while, even though I never made it past my while belt. (Years before, I was a runner up on a bowling league, and I had expressed my interest in becoming a certified lifeguard, but I was nowhere near what anyone could have referred to as a jock.)

The instructor emphasized the importance of dedication, as he said something along the lines of, “if a cute guy calls and asks you out on a date, tell him that you have to practice your karate instead.” And even though I had yet to meet my first boyfriend, I wasn’t dedicated enough to let my lessons stop me from dating!

I’d quit shortly after, but I returned to another venue one year later. My second attempt at tae kwon do was fun, but it only lasted for that one lesson. Not even a spark of interest formed enough for me to want to return. I did not even think about karate until twelve years later, in 2006.

I had been living in Sellersburg, Indiana for a little over a year. One of my neighbors was an instructor in dragon kempo. Not only was he kind enough to take me on as a student, but he also provided me with a uniform and a beginner’s white belt.

The third time around, I was a little more dedicated. I enjoyed the honor of receiving certificates and different color belts as I moved up through the ranks. The instructor had also given me my own set of nunchucks and a bo staff. Another thing I enjoyed were our warm up tai chi sessions.

I had fun playing outside with my then boyfriend (now husband) We pretended like we were Michaelangelo and Donatello. Even though we had a good time, I can’t help but wonder what any passers by might have thought.

Shortly after Travis and I became engaged, my interest in the art started to wane. Since I began to think about things like house hunting, wedding planning, and focusing more on my writing, I decided to stop taking dragon kempo lessons. And even though part of me regrets that decision, continuing at that time wouldn’t have been feasible.

Nowadays, my exercise consists of long walks in our neighborhood or on my favorite bridge, but I will never forget the time when I was referred to as the Karate Kid.



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