For years I romanticized about being a martial artist. It was cool, powerful, magic.
I loved the idea of defending myself with only my body as a weapon, hurtling through the air like Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan.
I finally got my wish in 2001 and signed up for Tae Kwon Do with my seven year-old daughter.
Slowly I learned kicks, blocks and forms.
Studying Tae Kwon Do reminded me of embarking on a new foreign language, one that was mental AND physical. It required me to use muscle memory, especially for the forms, which I loved.
But I also had to fight.
One day I was paired with a gentle man, the father of two boys and a friend of mine. We bowed to one another and before I knew it, his padded fist landed a blow directly at my nose!
My head flew back as I recoiled in shock. The splintering static of pain shot through my face. His punch though had an effect. I rebounded and aggressively fought back.
Minutes later we were done.
I sat down, panting and watched the next round but as I did, the tears welled up behind my eyes and a gush of emotions wrenched through my body.
It took everything I had not to lose it. I kept taking deep breaths until my emotions were in check.
After practice, I asked, what happened?
All my life I’d been conditioned to be a peacemaker, to make no waves. I’d never been encouraged to fight, defend myself or even be assertive.
When Mike hit me, it activated that old victim place and I didn’t know how to respond. It brought me back to being twenty.
I'd been in Barcelona for spring break. My friend and I had impulsively decided to walk to the Joan Miró museum. We soon found ourselves in a semi-deserted park, a gang of teens following us. The next thing I knew, their leader was brandishing a knife. “Give me your money.” I shook my head and acted like I didn’t have any.
Then he grabbed me, his blade cut at my neck. I froze, peed my pants and sent a pleading look to the gardener hoping he’d save me. Instead, he watched impassively and did nothing.
My girl friend, however, screamed. Loud.
One of the gang member’s lunged at my thin cotton satchel. It ripped open and everything spilled onto the grass – my passport, money, key…
Sparring with Mike had forced a difference response. Fight. He pushed me to defend myself and through that I discovered how to access the place of power within me.
Last week I was at a retreat and one of the women shared an experience of watching her son at his Tae Kwon Do rank test. She observed the kids, all of whom had perfect form, did the kicks exactly right. But only some of them were able to break a board.
I knew exactly what she was talking about.
I told her about the Korean master who trained my instructors. He would say, “You have to go to crazy.”
In other words, you have to be willing to be all in, to hold nothing back, to fight as if your life is on the line.
And the only way to do that is to access that power within.
We all have it but in most of us, especially women, it can lay dormant.
Here are 3 Ways You Can Access that Power Within:
1. Shout it Out
One of the ways Tae Kwon Do helped me was by yelling. They call it a “kihap.”
Whenever you hit, punch, kick, you make this guttural cry.
Try it. Exhale hard from your abdomen and shout.
Let it go – all of it- the tension, fear, anxiety, anger…
It feels amazing.
2. Say No
So many times as women, we’re conditioned to play nice, be soft, small or docile. When you find yourself in a situation that feels uncomfortable in ANY way, say no.
~No, I don’t want you to come to my house.
~No, please stop texting me.
~No, I am not interested.
3. Listen Within
We always know what to do, say or how to act. We just don’t always listen.
I was always looking for approval, for conformation because I didn’t trust myself. Sound familiar?
And yet, I do know and I always have known. Just like you.
It’s time to trust yourself and YOUR knowing. When you feel unclear, check inside of you and ask for the answer. Pray for guidance, insight, clarity. It will always be given to you.
Don’t feel like you have to run out and sign up for martial arts to connect to your own inner strength and power. It’s an internal river wide and strong that’s available to you at any given moment. All you have to do is choose to connect with it.
Step into that power! Shine that gorgeous love bright and strong into the world.