When I was around 7 years old, I beat up the school yard bully. A year prior, many kids including myself were being bullied by the fat kid who out-weighed and towered over everyone. I remember getting sick of this bully so I decided to do something about it.
My mom had put me in Karate classes several years prior. I was too young to start at the dojo. In the early 70s you had to be 7 years old to start and 18 to get a black belt. My mom asked the Sensei to give me a chance, he did and I proved myself worthy.
When I was a small kid training Kajukenbo and as a teenager in Hapkido, the classes were all about fighting. Then in my early 20s, I started Chinese Kung Fu. I remember that health was stressed first before fighting skills. I was not interested in that mindset, but as time went on I began to understand. After training Mantis Kung Fu, I trained more Tai Chi and Qigong and I started feeling the other benefits like peace of mind, getting in touch with nature and developing a stronger body. Mind, body and spirit started making sense.
When I was a kid I had bad migraines, stomach issues and knee problems. As a little fella, I was a mess, unhealthy, and my body was weak. Luckily, I had a strong desire to be something greater. I always enjoyed watching Ultraman, a Japanese version of Power Rangers. I would mimic the gymnastics and martial arts moves. I felt I was born to do martial arts. My mother saw my interest. She knew I needed to get stronger and she knew there were many bullies in the environment where we lived. Being poor and living in rough areas of Northern California, there were constant challenges to stay safe.
A few years after starting Karate, my migraines and stomach issue went away. Doctors could not fix the health problems, but martial arts did. There are so many benefits that cannot be so easily explained.
I have seen many other kids and adults come through my dojo and make huge changes. Illnesses go away, the body and mind get stronger, confidence shows and people are overall happier. So many people do not try something new because they do not fully understand it. This is where faith comes in. See the results in others and have faith the new path you are starting will lead you to your goals. Hard work is a part of it. Nothing comes for free. Much sacrifice must be given; changes in habits take a while, so discipline is a must.
In martial arts, we place a lot of emphasis on health through stretching, breathing exercises, forms training and self-defense techniques. Stretching helps to prevent injuries and also makes us stronger. The breathing exercises help us relax and give our cells more oxygen. The forms training helps with mobility and building the core, while at the same time working on martial arts techniques. The self-defense training is practiced on heavy bags and mitts, which is a great way to build your cardio and strength.
Find your passion and stick with it through the good times and the bad. Work hard for what you want and never give up. Life is good, enjoy!
– Jeff Hughes