*Sienna (*name changed) is a 22 year-old university student who was sexually assaulted by her romantic partner. In January, 2020 to help gain a sense of control back over her life she commenced training with her local Taekwondo club under a Pink Belt Scholarship.
In her own words, this is how she has found the experience so far…
When I first walked through the doors I felt like cat being cornered. On one hand I’d had zero martial arts experience in the past which made me nervous, while on the other I wanted to become strong.
With the help of my Taekwondo club, I did become stronger but not in the way I expected.
How taekwondo training made me stronger:
Kihap: a kihap is when a Taekwondo member yells as they kick and punch. It seems a little strange when you first see it but it’s also crazy intimidating when that someone is your opponent. This intense yelling is actually really hard to do properly, especially in the beginning.
When you try you feel really silly and embarrassed but this is actually really great way to grow stronger mentally. If you can learn to put your embarrassment aside and throw all your efforts into a loud and aggressive kihap you have grown stronger. It also makes sure that you are breathing properly as you train.
As much as you train as an individual you are a member of a team and a community. You learn to trust and rely on the people you train with. You will embarrass yourself in front of them, epically fail in front of them, laugh with them, succeed and grow with them.
You become part of a warm, forgiving and judgement free community. Learning to trust other people like that is one way that Taekwondo will make you stronger.
When you are training you leave all your baggage at the front door, not because you are made to, but because you won’t need it. As you concentrate on your stances, movements, technique etc etc, the rest of the world will fall away. There is no space for trauma in a dojo, and for me it was a simple case of “good riddance trauma I have more important stuff to concentrate on right now”.
Now I’m not saying that after a couple of months of Taekwondo I was ready to beat the living daylights out of perverts on the street and accost purse snatchers – never got the opportunity to try it- but I certainly felt a lot safer than I did before. The most valuable thing Taekwondo will teach you is to keep your cool in an emergency situation. It teaches you techniques to focus under pressure and keep a cool head. In a threatening situation this is much more valuable than simply learning a few impressive looking kicks.
Physical strength and flexibility:
Hello bikini bod here I come. I started training struggling to do a single push-up and by a few weeks in I was pumping them out like an instagram influencer. Taekwondo training can be a little intense at times but honestly it will never be more than you can handle. Don’t be shy and give it your all.
For information on applying for a 2021 Pink Belt Scholarship, visit this article.