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A Window into the Women in Martial Arts

Martial Arts training has changed my life. Ever since I started taking Krav Maga classes in late summer of 2013, I have had a completely different outlook on myself and those around me. I have come to deeply respect the women who teach me and train with me. I decided to talk to some of them about what it means to be a woman in the world of Martial Arts. Why did they get started? Was it ever intimidating?

The first person I talked to was my instructor at Logan’s Martial Arts Academy, Ms. Tammy Logan. Ms. Tammy was named Female Krav Maga instructor of the year by the United States Martial Arts Hall of Fame. She currently holds a 5th degree Black Belt in Kenpo and Level 6 Instructor in Krav Maga. She is someone I look up to and is an all-around great person. She started by telling me a profound story of how she began her journey into martial arts.

“The best place to start is why I decided to get into martial arts in the first place. When I was 15 years old I was sexually assaulted and as a result I went for many years with underlying depression. One day many years later I knew I had to do something. And that is how it all started! I started taking classes three times a week. It was hard at first but as time went by my passion for it grew stronger and stronger and suddenly one day my depression was gone. Martial arts gave me back my confidence. It helped me to become very strong, focused and fit both physically and mentally. I began competing in national tournaments winning trophies, I couldn’t believe it. It felt so amazing.”

She told me that martial arts have impacted her leadership skills, and she sees this everyday. Not only does she own a martial arts school with her husband, but she is also a manager at a large credit union.

“The unexpected benefit was how much it helped me in my career, I found that it gave me the ability to deal very effectively with people and enhanced my leadership skills immensely.”

I respect Ms. Tammy for telling me her story, it is easy to see that martial arts has changed her life for the better. She encourages women to get involved with martial arts, not only as a means of bettering yourself, but to learn to defend yourself against others.

Next, I spoke with a black belt instructor at my school, Madge Anderson. She was my instructor when I came in on my first free-to-try class. She was very patient with me.

“It can be scary sparring and practicing with so many big guys and even other women who are so talented. But in the end it’s worth being able to work with so many wonderful people. And you find out how much fun it is hitting people!”

The Dojo teaches you that size doesn’t matter as much as what you think. Brains and reflexes beat brawn. I have seen women go into the ring with men twice their size and show dominant force.

Lastly, I spoke with one of my peers, Jheila Akbari. I started pretty much exactly when she did and its great to see her learn and grow with me. She is currently a Level 4 in Krav Maga and an orange belt in Kenpo. She told me the story about how she decided to begin training.

“So one morning, while on vacation in Mexico. The family had split up and I was sitting at a table watching people’s stuff. The tour guide came up and said ‘Hey Jheila! Where’s the fun at today?’ I told him,‘ I don’t know, you tell me!’ He replied, ‘Come with me,” while grabbing my hand and pulling me to the bathroom. While he was doing this he mentioned to me that we ‘are going to have some fun in here!’ I pulled my arm out of his hands and ran away trying to find my brothers. That’s the big reason I started Krav.”

I would feel sorry for anyone who would try to drag Jheila anywhere. Not only is she a martial arts practitioner, but she’s also an ROTC student at FSU.

The story of women in martial arts is a story of empowerment and change. I respect these women.

If you would like to learn more about martial arts and self-defense, contact Logan’s Martial Arts Academy in Tallahassee.

And remember:

Gerrit Van Lent is a Senior studying Political Science, English, and Public Administration. He spends the majority of his time on campus or at the office of The Children's Campaign, a non-profit that informs elected officials and works on behalf of vulnerable and at-risk children, where he does public policy research and legislative affairs coordination. Gerrit is active on campus and in the community via Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity engaged in service around Tallahassee. In his free time, Gerrit enjoys practicing martial arts at Logan's Martial Arts Academy, skateboarding, listening to music, video games, and enjoying time with friends. His interests include eating candy, cooking, pets, action movies, dungeons and dragons, and other rad stuff.
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