What Martial Arts Has Done for Me

Nearly two years ago, I began taking martial arts lessons at the Kuk Sool Won center of St. Paul. The high school that I went to was a project-based charter school that had no regular gym program, but everyone who went there still needed a way to reach state-mandated physical education requirements. Thus, I decided to use the free two-week trial offered by the martial arts school that was only a few blocks away.

Now, not only does my mom practice martial arts with me, but I still periodically go back to St. Paul to attend lessons or take an advancement test. I just got back from a practice test last week, and I can honestly still feel the wear from it in my legs.

I can think of many, many reasons to encourage anyone to practice martial arts. One prominent reason that I continued my own training is because it had become one of my main sources of physical activity (besides dancing and the later-added walking around campus). After a certain amount of time, it began to feel uncomfortable if I didn’t go to class and work up a sweat a couple of times per week. And while this is something that one could get from going to a gym, for me, an additional benefit to Kuk Sool is that the practice provides a learning experience. There is always another kind of kick, or form, or set of techniques or general piece of wisdom from the instructors that one can learn. And all of these things can be applied to everyday life, such as proper etiquette and knowledge of the body.

And, of course, there is the sense of security gained with learning any kind of self-defense. I am happy to be able to say that yes, I believe I would know what to do in a dangerous situation. Many lessons and techniques emphasize how to knock someone off balance (locking a joint on the arm and kneeling down will often bring a person down with you), or the effects of hitting certain pressure points (a particularly devastating one being in the center of the side of the neck). Activities such as sparring teach strategy, speed, and control. Being the rank that I am, I have also been able to practice weapons training. Through all of this, my favorite lesson has been that the best fight is one that doesn’t happen. While I hope to never have to engage in an actual fight, I’m thankful to be prepared.

Thus, I would recommend martial arts training to anyone. I myself practice Kuk Sool, and while this particular form of martial arts would be my first recommendation (as it combines multiple types of ancient Korean practices; often stylistically compared to a sped up tai chi, with kicks), there is unfortunately only one WKSA school in the state of Minnesota. However, if one is able to find any form of martial arts school near them and has an interest, I would encourage them to take a look, if not just for the upcoming summer vacation.