Friday, May 21, 2010

Beaches, bikinis, nightclubs and ninjas.

In a society that interacts at all times of day we need to be ready for any surprise, good or bad. Sunshine in July will entice that Bikini out of the drawer, and we all understand the dangers of the walk home after a Club with the girls. Natalie Venning signs up for Tang Soo Do Martial Arts Classes to find out the benefits of being fighting fit.

To have a body to be proud to lie on the beach with this summer and knowledge to disarm any attackers why not try a different style of exercise class? Martial Arts are a well established athletics routine in most countries; Tang Soo Do originated from Korea, and works on fitness and intimidation in its style. “It’s a way to keep fit and meet new people,” a man told me with a friendly smile as he handed me a leaflet.

I had always been interested in taking a martial arts class, but it had seemed so surreal to imagine myself fighting like you see Lucy Liu in movies. Except when I held that leaflet in my hand signing up appeared so easy to do.

As I walked into that first class I was embarrassed that I wouldn’t be fit enough to keep up as I had not been one to exercise before; almost to the point that I wanted to turn away, but curiosity kept me there. The senior class members lined up in a grid as the instructor called attention, so the other rookies and I took our places behind them.

We were led through a half hour warm up, including jogging on the spot and more press-ups than I thought my body capable, and then onto stretches. After, although my breathing had noticeably quickened, instead of regretting joining I was feeling active and ready.

Martial Art philosophy is strict with the view that your knowledge and power should only be used for self defence; therefore we were first taught how to ward off attackers. The senior members partnered with the new; holding onto them as if they were strangling them. I was then instructed on how to escape the six foot, broad shouldered man in an orange belt holding tightly onto my neck. I didn’t think my untrained five foot frame would ever have enough power to accomplish the technique.

Never the less I dropped my weight on a bent knee and pushed my hips and arm up inside his arms, his grip failed and I was free. The surprise of my achievement felt wonderful.

The first class only gave me a small taste of Tang Soo Do and I was much more eager for the second class the following week. Another self defence manoeuvre was shown to us, a cross grab on the wrist. Again I doubted my ability, another man this time with a green belt was holding my wrist with such strength I didn’t think anyone could get out. But following our instructors words I twisted my hips and turned my wrist out of his hand; and then could not believe just how natural it felt to shoot a ‘knife hand’ back at his temple as a counter strike.

I found Tang Soo Do to not be confusing at all, and even when I was unsure exactly what to do the level of respect that the members hold for each other keeps the atmosphere jovial and they are always keen to help, even walk through the different stages in a technique with you so that it can done correctly; but never have I felt pressured or patronised during the many times that the senior members have had to help me.

To have the knowledge to protect myself makes me feel confident to go places at any time of day; not only confidence in security but even in body confidence and now have the daring to more than I used to. And I even feel better, emotionally and physically since starting the classes.

If you want to join a martial arts class check out your local leisure centre and community hall listings to see what is available to you.

For more information on In Sung Kwan Tang Soo Do visit

Or join their facebook page ‘ISK Martial Arts.’

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