23 Lessons from Martial Arts

Over six years ago, I nervously walked my family into the then unfamiliar world of martial arts, which turns out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. My oldest three kids all began at the same time and were in the same class. Eventually my youngest child surprised all of us and found the courage to step onto the mat as well. Next up I finally joined in the fun after spending over three years emphatically declaring that I would never do karate. Then, a class later, my husband wanted in on the action. Attempting to adequately share our family adventure with you feels impossible. Instead, in a nutshell, here are 23 lessons I personally learned from doing martial arts the last three years.

  1. I learned never to say never.
  2. I learned to get out of my comfort zone big time and that trying new things was totally worth it.
  3. I learned that what had seemed doable while sitting and watching my kids was actually quite hard when on the mat trying it myself.
  4. I learned I was very out of shape but could gain strength in my muscles by simply exercising them one or two times a week in class.
  5. I learned not to worry about what others thought of me, which goes against my natural disposition.
  6. I learned that I had the unexpected ability to totally tune out all of the spectators.
  7. I learned I could instantly be distracted if one of my kids in class was acting up, struggling, or simply performing something I wanted to watch; mom mode is impossible for me to turn off.
  8. I learned that when a lot is weighing on my mind from life off the mat, a martial arts class greatly calms and redirects my thinking.
  9. I learned that I could be tired and dread going to an evening class but after class feel really good and thankful I pushed myself.
  10. I learned that one student can impact the whole class positively or negatively.
  11. I learned that words of encouragement from more experienced students spoken to me at the beginning of my journey were invaluable as it truly did take months to get the hang of sparring just like they told me it would.
  12. I learned I was weaker and less skilled than some students, which enhanced my focus when sparring them, consequently making me better.
  13. I learned I was stronger and more skilled than some students, which required me to be self-controlled and considerate when sparring them but also helped me build much needed confidence.
  14. I learned that listening to the instructor and making a minor change in my kicking technique helped me break the board that had seemed impossible to break.
  15. I learned firsthand how painful bone bruises are and how much pain we are willing to endure out of love for our kids.
  16. I learned after sitting out a session that despite the potential for more injury I really wanted to be on the mat with my family still and so reentered the fray.
  17. I learned to be flexible and adaptable when I followed my head instructor to a new school he started a couple years ago.
  18. I learned by being part of two different martial art schools that Black Belt tests are not all equal in rigor but all require years of training and perseverance to pass.
  19. I learned that I disliked the self-defense portion but knew it was valuable and so accepted the discomfort.
  20. I learned that board breaks involving kicks are my favorite part of martial arts training.
  21. I learned that despite what Black Widow communicates to me on the big screen God designed male teens and adults to be significantly stronger than female teens and adults.
  22. I learned what motivates me to persevere and what obstacles push me to my limits.
  23. I learned that martial arts can bond a family so tightly together that, when I am finally making the hard choice to pause my training indefinitely due to the increasing number of injuries and risks that are jeopardizing my abilities as a mom off the mat, my heart is truly breaking and I know that I will forever cherish these priceless three years we had together truly being a karate family.

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