My To Shin Do training started quite by luck. In 2004 I attended a fundraising carnival at my children’s grade school and put in a bid for a martial arts package thinking that I if I won it would be an excuse for me to try martial arts, increase my activity level and do something fun for myself. I secretly hoped I would win – and I did.
I had no idea what to expect during my orientation lesson, but everyone was very helpful and made me feel at ease. In my first class I learned an amazing technique. From a grounded body position and an understanding of the body structure I could cause tremendous pain to an attacker with only a slight movement. This art did not require speed or athleticism. It required intelligence. This was the art for me. During my first few months as a white belt I learned useful techniques I could use if I were physically threatened in a parking lot or walking down the street. I often worked late at night and travelled for business, so knowing some self-defense techniques brought some comfort. I enjoyed the training so much that I got my husband and children involved not long after I started. It has been a fun family bonding experience.
Over the last four years I’ve learned a great deal of self-defense, and so much more. The most important things I’ve learned are mental, not necessarily physical. I’ve learned that there is so much more to respect: a respect for myself and my body and that everyone has something to teach; to be patient and understanding; and to be strong enough to show this respect to others. Mental and spiritual balance are other aspects of the training that I now better understand. To be balanced in all aspects of my life – work, home, use of my talents.
Finally, I learned that you don’t know your limits until you try. Who would have thought that a 45 year old, out of shape, busy working-mother of two would obtain the rank of black belt? I didn’t think so until I tried. I learned that my body was a thing of power and can be used to defend myself against attackers who are larger, stronger, and faster than me. If I can do this, what else might I be able to do?