As I mentioned two weeks ago, every two weeks, it’s going to be #AskWednesday, when I post interviews I’ve done and other interviews I find interesting on the Net. I am not looking for just a particular type of interviewees or writeups or topic. It’s going to be stuff and people that interest me because, hey, that’s what my blog’s about. I never always stick to just one topic because not every reader likes this or likes that–I’d like to make, at least, one person go away smiling or feel it wasn’t a waste of his/her time.
For this week, I am posting a loooooong-overdue interview that I did a few years back with the intention of posting here. It was to be about three different martial artists I know. Can you tell I like martial arts (MA)? One of them, I think he said yes, then later on ignored my questions. Another answered me very well, but I had a hard time translating his deep Filipino words, I wasn’t sure if I got them right (we’re both Filipinos but he’s not Tagalog like me so I didn’t want to misinterpret his Tagalog). I will try to review/re-edit then ask his permission to post one of these days.
Today, I introduce to you my long-time friend, “TKD Princess”. I wish I could tell you her real name, but she specifically told me she didn’t want it revealed and I respect her decision and reasons. I call her that because she is a Tae Kwon Do (TKD) artist. I’d rather not mention what belt color to keep her anonymous. TKD, by the way, is Korea’s well-known MA. Sorry, no personal pics.
1. What made you decide to take up martial arts?
I always wanted to learn a martial art, that began when I was six years old, but my parents didn’t allow it and back then, there weren’t clubs available. I also understood their concern, too, since I was always sickly, so years had to go by before I was physically able to take up one.
2. Who or what made you decide on your chosen MA?
No one in particular influenced me to take up TKD. I eventually gravitated to TKD on my own since there wasn’t a club then that was teaching Kung Fu, which I wanted to learn when I was kid. I was entranced by all the Saturday afternoon Chinese movie specials, TV series, and movies revolving around a particular martial art form.
I bought a lot of martial arts magazines before so it helped me get acquainted with the style techniques–I read interviews from instructors overseas and on what activities a dojo or club usually got involved in.
3. Why choose TKD in particular? What do you like about it or get out of it?
I chose TKD because it was the only available MA being taught in town that time. I didn’t like going very far to learn a martial art and I was starting to get drawn to this type, anyway. I also felt I was going to be happy learning this one. I think, any form of martial art, in my case, TKD…I like how it taught me to calm my chaotic mind. The training helped me improve my concentration, discipline, endurance, stamina, perseverance, integrity and awareness.
4. What does your MA require of its artists?
It teaches indomitable spirit, develops fair play, trains one to be a good leader, gives a sense of balance between oneself and the environment. Yes, it’s a philosophy that I noticed when learning the forms – the TKD basic tenets.
5. What separates it from others?
I believe each martial art is different when it comes to forms, styles, and sparring rules. TKD employs close fists and flying kicks. Karate, I believe is open-hand, and I don’t know what else. I think you need to ask a Karate practitioner. What separates TKD from others could be the belt levels and the complexity of the styles and forms. I haven’t studied a different form to compare, but I heard Karate has more complex forms, but I’m not sure.
6. How has it helped you? Have you been able to use your knowledge/skills? In what way?
The results of the training helped me keep watch of my diet, focus on the importance of regular exercise,…it was a confidence builder…[it] improved my perseverance and developed in me an indomitable spirit should situations just had to hurtle the wrong way for me. I hope in the future, I won’t be using my skills in street-fighting.
7. Other people say MAs are violent. Has anyone ever said that to you? Do you agree? If yes, why do/did you continue?
No one said that to me. I don’t agree, but it certainly falls on the choices of the individual. Did that person just enter a martial art school just for bragging rights to his friends, to make him feel superior amongst his friends?
It is sad to hear that an individual uses the skills learned for violence against others. This is not coinciding with the spirit of a martial art. TKD develops integrity, humility, courtesy, perseverance, self-control and indomitable spirit. I continued with TKD because I wanted to fulfill a childhood dream of mine.
8. Are you trying out other MAs? (please specify) Why?
I only took TKD.
9. Any other MA you’d like to try? Why?
I would like to try Wushu or Tai Chi because they’re soft-style martial arts, quite different from TKD which employs hard-style martial arts.
10. What made you continue or stop doing Martial Arts?
I unfortunately stopped training when I started working full-time. It was, I think, a wrong move for me and I wish I had continued even if just by going through the forms and kicking forms for regular exercise maintenance. So now, I’m starting the slow process of getting back to it. [Ed. Since this interview was done a few years back, we’ll have to find out if she has gone back to training]
11. Any tips and advice for aspiring martial artists?
If one plans to learn a martial art, it would be best to check out the nearest gyms in the area that are offering different styles or whatever is available, choose the top three martial arts you feel you’d like to learn, and then ask if you can be permitted as an observer during their routine workout.
Get acquainted with the training session because it helps in conditioning you mentally before getting into the training itself. It also pays researching online for the martial arts you want to check out. It helps getting used to seeing people tumbling on the floor, going on weird postures while executing forms, etc., just to lessen the self-consciousness or awkwardness. Of course, before executing a simple form, the instructor will always start from the basic. YouTube can be an avenue for you to view forms, workout routines and competition circuits.