by Taylor Vogel
When I was little, my dad taught martial arts to the kids at our church for a few years. This occurred in a spare room in our house--we eventually padded the walls so we could all throw each other around.
My dad and my brother had learned at a studio when we lived in Norman, OK, and we tested for our belts there. And while I was way too shy to have participated in the studio as a whole, I was so grateful for the structured opportunity to learn the basics of TaeKwanDo once a week.
I never got my black belt or won competitions.
But I did gain a lot of confidence within my own body.
I assumed the responsibility of protecting myself--which in all other teachings, was a man's job to do for me.
I learned very distinctly that the goal is not to harm others, but to protect myself and my loved ones.
I learned that I could be hurt and keep going.
I learned that sometimes it feels good to burn energy by hitting a board or a padded wall or by safely sparring.
I learned that strategy matters.
I learned some basic rules of physics as I flipped men twice my size.
I learned to connect to my body and listen to what it's telling me.
I began to value flexibility, which later led to my yoga practice and anxiety management.
I learned to not be embarrassed to sweat.
Although it's a very niche thing to have experienced, I'm so glad I did. I learned so many valuable lessons from earning my yellow belt and am grateful for a dad who included his daughter in self-defense lessons all those years ago.
Did you learn any forms of martial arts?
Taylor Vogel was a public school teacher, and isn't any more. She is the creator and host of the podcast, Now That I'm Not Your Teacher.