From time to time we are fortunate enough to have guest writers on our page, this is what Kenpo Women is all about, sharing our stories. Thank you Kim for your contribution, we look forward to watching you grow throughout the years!
Kim is a purple belt at Medina Kenpo Karate/MKA Karate in Springfield, PA, her instructor is Dave Medina.
MY STRENGTH JOURNEY by Kim Pacini.
“Martial Arts is a man’s quest to understand himself and obtain the maximum from his mind and body. Analyzing each weakness, he strengthens his awareness and overcomes his awkwardness. It is through this overcoming his awkwardness that he learns to be better overcome himself” – Ed Parker
I want to talk about the kind of strength we get when we know how to fight. The instinctual roundedness, the poise, the centered edge of muscle memory, of a disciplined mind when fight or flight takes over.
The kind of strength most women do not know.
You fight like a girl. This phrase conjures an image of a flailing girl with emotionally charged arms all amiss, eye scratching and hair pulling. Certainly not a trained, disciplined fighter.
This is because girls and women, by and large are not trained to fight. We are taught how to be rescued. We are given rape whistles to call for help and wise advice about not walking home alone but its not a norm for us to be able to defend ourselves.
Most boys learn something about how to fight one way another. It is assumed they will encounter aggressive situations at some point in their lives -older family members, kids on the playground, contact sports are all reasonable scenarios for a boy to expect to come across at some point in his life.
Every single woman knows the feeling of threat and 20% of women experience assault. Yet, we are not prepared with the tools to defend ourselves. We are just hold your rape whistle and hope it doesn’t happen.
I started training in a quest for strength, one I defined as physical strength. I had been recovering from back injuries sustained from a car accident which left me with a desire to be strong. My now instructor suggested I take a few practice classes.
I threw the first punch of my life in my first Kenpo class, I was 42. I was HOOKED.
I loved the movement. I loved learning what my body could do. I love learning HOW and over time learned it is not the physical strength I need.
Am I more physically strong? Yes, for sure. I also cross train so I can be more agile at the art form. The strength I am gaining is more than the physical form. The complete strength comes from the journey. This journey through martial arts is transformative.
With each punch, each technique and form I started to connect to all the times I felt threatened. Through this, the story getting rewritten by one of empowerment and poise. Of being tough and in control. Of being a weapon.
The first time I threw a man on the ground was so emotional – I was an orange belt and did it learning Locked Wing. I cried because I COULD DO THAT. In that moment I revisited the shame, the defenselessness, the confusion, the anger of all the times I felt threatened.
I have great admiration for Kenpo and all martial arts. For what it is giving me and how it has made me different person. A different woman.
When I started training, I met an amazing girl who was 16. I asked her why she was training and she said in the current culture (the #metoo movement was bringing to light the extent of assault and harassment we endure) she thought it wise to learn how to defend herself now, given the world she was growing into. I was astounded by her awareness of the world and her resound determination to take care of herself.
Our girls need to learn about aggression and when to use it. About their bodies, what is theirs and what are their boundaries. We are warriors by nature, relegated to this idea of soft and somewhat hysterical and needing to be rescued. Our strength lies in our instincts. We have clear minds and incredible awareness. If we train to use them, we safer, stronger, more self-aware and confident and with that, able to be our incredible selves.