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9 Unexpected Lessons that Martial Arts has Taught Me

And, how training can improve your life physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I have felt like a warrior my entire life – in the metaphorical sense – so it seems only fitting for me to start training in Martial Arts. It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, you know, become a badass, warrior, sword-fighting ninja like Uma Thurman. And, I’ve been at it for about six weeks now.

But, to be honest it’s been a little different than I thought it would be.

So, here are some surprising lessons that I’ve learned so far:

9. Even though I can high kick my leg up to someone’s head, my technique is all wrong.

I thought the Master would be super impressed with my natural flexibility and ability to easily kick my foot above my head, but nope. From what I’ve learned, I would likely suck really bad if I got in a fight.

And, each time I am taught a new technique and I think I’ve mastered it, they tell me something else I have to start working on. Every movement is extremely technical and controlled. I see why it takes years to master even the simplest forms.

8. You learn actual, real self-defense techniques.

I thought I would basically be learning ancient fighting techniques that are no longer relevant today, but you learn them mostly so you can look cool doing them. Wrong again. One of the first things I learned was how to quickly get away from an attacker. And, I’d say that’s pretty good to know.

7. Martial Arts is not cheerleading.

I found out quickly on my first day that a low block is not a low V. (Holla at my cheerleaders.) Martial Arts is also not dance, ballet, kickboxing, or Yoga. At all. So basically all of my background and natural tendencies are just dead wrong. #winning

6. You actually hit and get hit.

Again, I just wanted to look cool, not actually fight. But, part of training is getting hit and seeing that you can get back up again. I have always loved this concept metaphorically. Not so much physically, but again a great lesson in realizing that you are tougher than you think. Thankfully, they have slowly eased me into this lesson.

5. It’s not just for kids.

Martial Arts is wonderful training for kids. In fact, my daughter has even joined me and there are a bunch of parent/child pairs in the class which is awesome. But, training is equally beneficial (and fun!) for adults as it is for children.

4. It’s a good workout.

I figured I wouldn’t really break a sweat during Martial Arts training. I am a fitness instructor, I am in good shape, so Martial Arts won’t be a challenge, right?! Wrong, yet again! Not only do they “kick your butt” with lots of pushups and situps, punching and kicking bags is no joke. Honestly, the insides of my elbows actually feel like they are bruised from punching my arms out so much. After my first time punching a bag (for about an hour straight) my entire upper body felt like it was run over by a truck for a good two days.

3. Size doesn’t matter.

Yup. Pretty much a six-year-old girl could legit kick my ass. I’ve learned that it only takes 16 pounds of pressure to break someone’s elbow. So, if you know the right techniques, size really doesn’t matter at all.

2. You learn another language.

I am training in Tang Soo Do, which is Korean. And, yes the Master actually commands in Korean. Right now when he is training us, it basically sounds like a jumble of loud, angry sounds to me. (insert completely confused, panicked and lost look on my face at all times)

1. I’ve been afraid of my own voice.

When you attack, you are supposed to yell. This was probably the most difficult thing for me to get over. Maybe because we are told to be quiet basically from the day we are born? I don’t know, but the entire class has done many a pushup because I kept my mouth shut instead of yelling through a punch.

So originally, I thought I was going to become a badass, ninja, nunchuck slinging, wood chopping, fighter by training in Martial Arts. And, maybe I will.

But for now, it is a welcomed journey of patience and humility.

PS – Connect with me over at www.bridgettepetrino.com.

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