Please spare me the lame jokes! References to bullying elementary kids or entering MMA competitions are sooooo old.

Escaping a grab
I’m getting out of a grab! Back when I was still “orange” (Taken from a photographer at a KK testing)

Why martial arts? Sure– I wanted the knowledge to defend myself from would-be gropers or Chris Browns… but I simply decided to learn because I’ve always wanted to. Plus, a dream of being the next Zhang Ziyi flying through palm tree forests (they don’t have bamboo forests in Florida) while taking down expressionless enemies with my fists was a motivation.

Most martial arts schools allow you to take a free class to get a feel for how it’ll be. No matter where in Tampa Bay I went… even if the school said “adult class”… if you can vote you’re probably the oldest student there.

Despite research, I still didn’t know which type I wanted to take. Jiu-Jitsu? Tae Kwon Do? Capoeira? Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu? It almost made me want to take up competitive Yu-Gi-Oh-ing instead. I just knew I wanted something within the Oriental martial arts umbrella. In the end, I happily settled for the busiest Kinney Karate center (multiple locations) in St. Petersburg because they had the best price, instructors with deep, varying backgrounds and because I’d end up learning several different styles in the end.

Twice a week I’ve been working my way through the ladder of forms. Sometimes my neck is sore from falling incorrectly. Sometimes I laugh when I’m partnered with at child who’s at eye level with my waist, and I have to learn how to “defend myself from an attacker.” (Luckily, I’m often partnered with an off-duty cop. How often can anyone boast that they’ve thrown down a cop?) Even my Philippine-pride happy self is satisfied with a few lessons in Arnis (stick fighting from the Philippines)

At first I was off-put because none of the instructors were Asian—and I figured if I wanted to learn traditional martial arts… shouldn’t the instructors…? Several classes in, I realized Mr. Kinney himself was probably more Asian than me after living there and working his way through many famous martial arts teachers there.

Kinney Karate Class at a recreation center
Kinney Karate Class at a recreation center (From Kinney Karate website)

Yes, I’ve had to swallow my pride. At times I’ve rolled my eyes when an instructor has told the class to do a form… and some younger kids are dancing in circles. Or when a “child” is picked to give me a personal lesson (YOU teach ME? I’LL show YOU how to really deal with a crazy!). Although I’m surrounded by children, I noticed the instructors are stricter to some students in accordance to age and ability. The instructors have focused on perfecting my actions when they’d let the same mistake slide with the kids. Pride swallowed—I’m learning discipline, the ability to be calm, and to recognize I will never be as good as some of the darker-belted teens there.

This is me two belts in with Soke Kinney himself
This is me two belts in with Soke Kinney himself (Taken from photographer at testing event)

Eight months and I’m only four belts in (soon to be five!) yet I’ve enjoyed this experience enough to make me want to continue learning until I’m also an instructor.

About the author:
Pyra-Danny made a working list of 10 New Years Resolutions in early 2012. Let’s see how she’s keeping them! Resolution #1 “Learn martial arts”

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