I threw a quick jab aimed at my instructor’s torso, immediately following up with a knee strike. The impact of both hits caused him to stumble back a few steps.
Imagine you’re being attacked. Picture I’m that person, that I’m coming after you. Show me how you can protect yourself, he had said at the start of class.
I threw a sidekick, slamming the punching bag in his hands against his body, causing it to shudder.
He had asked me to pretend, but I didn’t have to. After all, I’m a childhood trauma survivor. I had been there – more than once.
I continued to come at him. I kicked and punched, giving everything that I could possibly muster up within myself until finally, he told me I could stop.
My own experience being attacked had left me a shell of myself. In the aftermath of it all, I was left a vulnerable, quiet person. Hunched over, head down, eyes always pointed toward the floor.
But martial arts had changed something in me. I instantly fell in love with the classes, the exercises acting as medication in motion. They stripped away my tension, helping me to remain calm and clear throughout the day.
I lost inches and gained self-confidence. My self-esteem skyrocketed. I learned to walk with more conviction – shoulders back, head held high. I smiled more often. I even stopped wearing all-black clothes, trading them out for a wardrobe consisting of more vibrant, happier colors.
I may not be the strongest, the fastest, or have the best technique. But I now know how to defend myself. I’ve learned to not let myself be vulnerable, to never let myself be a target. I’ve learned to fight back.