Editors note: This is the first post of many to come as we follow Faith Fraser in her Kenpo journey. I personally know Faith and am so honored that she has agreed to be a part of our website and allow us to follow along. Faith’s story is a little different than most, but her goal is shared by all: to be the best that she can be.
My journey in Kenpo truly began when I met my husband Brad Fraser. As Mr. White’s student, Brad introduced me to a world that I knew nothing about. He loved the art and showed passion for it on a daily basis. Whether it was a front thrust kick while putting on his pants or showing me a new technique he learned during his private lesson with Mr. White, Brad’s Kenpo life became a part of my life. I loved watching him test and watching him fight at tournaments. As time went on Brad would often ask me to join the studio. I always said there is no way that I’m physically built for this sport; it’s not possible. So, Brad started to introduce me to the women in the studio to show me that I could be apart of it. After we got married, I asked him to train with me at home to see if it was something I wanted to do. Brad taught me one technique, sword and hammer. Then, as many of you can understand from personal experiences, everyday responsibilities took over, and we didn’t get around to it. Brad started training for his black belt, and I was pregnant with our son Peyton. Kenpo training for me wasn’t realistic at this point in our lives.
On December 30, 2009 the unimaginable happened. Brad died and my world turned upside down. I had an 8 month old baby and could barely get out of bed. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I gained weight and slipped into a depression. I don’t remember much during this time, but I do remember Brad’s friends in the Kenpo community reaching out to me with comforting words. One afternoon I had this random urge to drive to the studio; I wanted Mr. and Mrs. White to see Peyton. During my visit with them, they invited me to start training, and honestly, I believe it was Brad looking down on me, giving me a push to get into the studio. Despite this feeling, I still didn’t commence training. This time it was out of fear of the emotions I would have to face when walking into a space that, for me, represented my husband in so many ways.
A few months later, as my gift for Mother’s Day, Brad’s Aunt Lisa signed me up for Kenpo at Bob White’s Karate Studio. She told me she was giving me something she knew Brad would have wanted. Walking into the studio in uniform was uncomfortable at first; I was used to being on the sidelines watching Brad. There were many times I would start to cry in class because of something an instructor would say which would trigger a memory… most commonly, comparing a front thrust kick to putting on a pair of pants. Before and after my Yellow Belt test, I cried because I couldn’t shake the memories of Brad’s tests away. During my Orange Belt test, my Mom cried because my name, Fraser, was on my uniform and it reminded her of watching Brad. Actually, the first time I saw my name on my uniform I cried because it looked just like my husband’s uniform. But, with every class, every private lesson, and every test, the emotions become manageable, and as time moved forward I began to realize that Kenpo is my source of therapy. It’s an outlet for me to release the physical and mental tension that the anger over Brad’s death manifests. Kenpo gives me the strength I need to rebuild my life for my son and for myself.
With the continued support and encouragement of Mr. and Mrs. White, two years have gone by, and I am training with Mr. Shukla for my Blue Belt and beginning to train in sparring. It hasn’t been easy juggling a full time career, single motherhood and Kenpo, amongst other things, but I’m proud to say that I’m doing it. My journey through my belts is at a speed that is right for me. I have stopped comparing my rate of progress to others and started understanding what it is that I need from being a woman in Kenpo. My goal is to earn my Black Belt when the time is right, and when I’m ready for it. I’m excited that through my training I’m going to be able to give my son, Peyton, a piece of his Dad. As he gets older, I will be able to explain to him in more detail what his dad enjoyed and how his journey to Black Belt came to pass. I hope that one day Peyton will also enjoy the art and will be able to feel a connection to his father through Kenpo. As a mother, my biggest goal is to try to bridge an uncontrollable gap between Peyton and his father.