An Article by Kaci Lynn

Attitude First Martial Arts Academy is the Valley’s leader in developing Strong, Confident and Healthy Youth. That goes regardless of age! Located in Northern Phoenix, AFMAA offers incredible training opportunities in American Kenpo and practical Self Defense. More importantly, members have a great resource to help them improve in all facets of their lives.

Here is a recent college paper written by one of our former students Kaci Lynn ~Enjoy

Essay 2 (500 words), Question 3: A.A. Milne once said, “The things that make me different are the things that make me.” Describe a time or experience in your own life when your actions captured what makes you.

As a college sophomore, I was asked an interesting question: “What was it like to have spent so many years participating in a male-dominated activity?” The question referred to my years of involvement in Kenpo Karate, and it confused me because I had never considered karate as gender-specific territory. In my karate school there was rarely separation of boys from girls; we all learned together, trained together, and fought together. However, I was curious about the inference that martial arts are male-dominated; when I began asking around I learned that a lot of martial arts studios separate girls from boys for most of their activities. Of course, this makes no sense in the real-world application of self-defense, because the realities of violence against women make the likelihood of a female having to defend her life against another female almost negligible. Moreover, I came to the realization that my diverse experiences in self-defense had helped to shaped me as a person.

First, and most important to emphasize for those unfamiliar with Kenpo, my martial arts training did not encourage belligerence. We were taught from the very beginning that karate was our “empty hands”—we carried no other weapons, and we only engaged with someone in the defense of life, principle, and honor. While to an outsider it may sound suspicious, the principles we developed and the honor we learned to carry were far removed from the anger and violence normally associated with fighting. For me, there was so much more to karate than defense. My karate instructors and fellow students were like a family to me, and I grew up loving and being loved by people from all walks of life. I learned self-discipline, how important it was to both respect others and have a sense of self-worth, and how to redirect conflict in a constructive manner. Perhaps most importantly, I learned that I was tough. I trained with people of all ages and skill levels, ranging from kids my age to adults who were four or five times my size. I learned how to take a hit, to keep fighting even when I was exhausted, and to recognize and utilize my strengths.

So what was it like to spend so many years participating in a male-dominated activity? My answer had nothing to do with “girl power” or “fighting the patriarchy.” Rather, in formulating my response I realized something crucial: that my years in karate gave me a unique sense of strength, one that a lot of girls growing up did not have an opportunity to develop. Life has a way of coming at you from all sides, but I have already experienced fighting multiple opponents and surviving; I have years of experience of people trying to knock me down, of getting knocked down and standing back up. I know my strengths, and I have the drive to keep going against all odds.

I am a fighter.

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