Martial Arts as Self Defense for Women

I Took Martial Arts For 12 Years And I Think Every Woman Should Too

Why I took martial arts and why you should too.


When I was about six years old my mom enrolled me in a ballet class at the local YMCA. I attended class there for a good bit but dreaded every minute of it. I was not a dancer, I did not fit in with the other little girls. I hated the color pink because I hated what I thought pink stood for. The stereotype that every little girl was supposed to love pink, talk quietly and act like a lady. I was a loud-mouthed, purple loving, aggressive child. I loved to run around and laugh and honestly, I loved showing off. So, when my mom would pull my hair back into the bun and dress me in tights and a leotard I just did not feel like myself.

One day I peered into a window on the way to class. I saw a bunch of boys dressed in white shirts and black pants with different colored belts around their waists punching the air. I looked at my mom and said I want to do that. Now my mom doesn't believe in the whole gender roles thing, she has always encouraged me to do what I want to do, no matter what anyone says. She pulled me out of ballet class immediately and enrolled me in MATI. A martial arts training institute owned by our good family friend Sheriff Irwin Carmichael. I instantly fell in love with the class.

I was taught discipline, awareness of my surroundings, memory techniques and most importantly how to defend myself. I remember being one of the only girls in the class. Every time we graduated to a new belt, we would have a demonstration and competition in front of the parents. One graduation stands out to me in particular. I was one of three girls in the class. The two other girls were sisters that I knew from school and encouraged to start taking classes with me. They paired up to grapple and I had to grapple a boy. Which I was totally fine with, I liked showing the boys up. But the boy that was left to grapple was the biggest boy in the class. We squared off and everyone got quiet.

I remember at first he was just trying to get me into an easy pin and just finish the match. So, he got on top of my back and just put all his weight on me. He was so heavy and I remember him saying how easily he was going to pin me. At this point, the whole crowd got riled up, especially the women. And my brother just starts yelling, "Get him Kenzie! Get him!"

So I grabbed the back of his Gi, which is the ceremonial shirt we wear, and I pulled him forward over my shoulders and threw him on the ground. Everyone cheered. I never underestimated my power ever again. Sensei Carmichael always encouraged me to never let a man say I couldn't do something because I was a girl. One day we were breaking boards, and I couldn't break the hardest board, but I was the only girl to make it that far. And he told me I couldn't break it because I was a girl and too weak. He knew this would make me angry and I whacked straight through the board and hit the ground below with my fist. All he said was "I knew you could do it, just needed a little encouragement".

I continued my self-defense training for over 12 years. I am a black belt and belong to the master's club and the demo team. Karate was a huge part of my life and I will never let it go. Martial arts is the reason I am still standing today, it has saved my life on multiple occasions. It gave me a confidence like no other, and it has made me smarter in the way I deduce problems. I cannot stress how important it is to learn some type of self-defense, whether that is just learning how to punch correctly so you do not break your hand, or notice a man dwelling too close to your car when you come out of work late at night.

I was 14 the first time I had to defend myself from a man. And I have used martial arts over 6 times after that, that I can recall. Martial arts can save your life, your sister's life, your mother's life. If you are not comfortable with taking a class with men. There are classes offered for only women. I cannot tell you how much I thank my parents for paying for the classes and how much I thank Sensei Carmichael for saving my life. I would not be here today if it wasn't for my training. I gained confidence, self-control, and peace of mind. I would never trade the time I spent in the dojo.

Popular Right Now

20 Fun Facts To Use When Introducing Yourself

As we embark on the semester, we are put on the spot in order to share interesting details about ourselves. This article discloses possible fun facts to tell others!

After experiencing my first week of classes, I have learned that every student needs a handy-dandy list of fun facts about themselves to tell other people. Many professors use the first couple of classes to learn about their students, so you may need to think about who you are and how you want to introduce yourself to your professor and classmates. We all have that one go-to interesting fact about ourselves, but sometimes you just have to mix it up!

1. My favorite hobby is...

What do you do in your free time? Personally, I love to stay active! I am a competitive Latin dancer and enjoy teaching and taking Zumba classes, going to the gym, and hiking.

2. I love...

Is there something, someone, or somewhere that you love? What makes your heart ache? What do you miss when it's gone? I can say that I love my friends because I feel my most confident when I'm surrounded by those who love and support me.

3. I look up to...

Is there someone you adore? Who mesmerizes you? Who do you wish to learn from? After watching "A Ballerina's Tale," I discovered Misty Copeland. In 2015 she became the first African American ballet dancer to become the Female Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Her passion, grace, and strength continuously motivate me to better myself as an athlete and an individual.

4. This art speaks to me because...

Coco Chanel said, "In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different." This encourages me to always follow my heart no matter what. I will never follow society's standards and norms because they do not define me. Chanel's saying definitely influences my character and lifestyle.

5. A funny and/or embarrassing memory of me is...

When you make others laugh they want to spend time and make memories with you! Don't be afraid to embarrass yourself. You will come off as down to earth, easy-going, and loyal.

6. My siblings or lack thereof influenced me by...

I can go on and on about my brother, who is 10 years older than I. We have opposite personalities and despite the age gap, we're quite close.

7. My pet(s) are my life because...

Only sad people don't like hearing about furry creatures, even if your pets are slimy and slithering creatures all human beings enjoy hearing pet tales!

8. I'm afraid of...

Your personality can be revealed by your likes and dislikes, including the things that you fear. I am terrified of change and the unknown, hence, the future is an anxiety-inducing topic to discuss for me.

9. I am the way I am because...

What have you gone through in life that has shaped you into who you are today? Remember to be open minded and allow yourself to open up to your peers. You may be surprised by how others respond and/or what others have endured as well.

10. The most unusual item that can be found in your dorm...

This is a fun fact about yourself that can easily liven up an awkward conversation. Think about your quirks and differences! One item I have in my dorm is my teddy bear, Peter, whom I like to joke is my boyfriend.

11. My dream job is...

In college, "What's your major?" is a widespread question. Nonetheless, skip the boring statement of "I'm majoring in..." and go in depth on what your dream job is (hopefully your major factors in to this dream of yours).

12. My hidden talents are...

Angelina Jolie is a knife thrower. Kendall Jenner can produce bird noises. Amanda Seyfried can crochet and knit. Is there anything special you can do? Some people have rare and unique talents, maybe you can think of some hidden talents of your own!

13. My guilty pleasure is...

I will say it a million times: don't be shy when introducing yourself to new people! I'll start by divulging my guilty pleasure: Youtube's family vlogging channel, "OKBaby"!

Check them out:

14. Some activities on my bucket list are...

This is an easy way to grab people's attention and find others with similar desires as you. Be an adventurer! Go out of your comfort zone!

15. Talk about your best friend...

How would your best friend describe you? What do you love to do with your best friend?

16. Talk about an accomplishment of yours...

You are incredible and have achieved so much! Reveal something that you are proud of — show off a little!

17. This one time at my job...

Bosses breathing down your neck. Curious coworkers asking personal questions. Cursing customers who never leave you alone. Your job can be filled with tons of hilarious situations that can easily entertain a crowd.

18. During the summer...

Any scars with stories? Any summer flings? Any lessons learned from the tanning too long? Now that summer is over, disclose memories that can leave positive impressions on others.

19. I volunteer at...

Do you do any community service? Share a funny moment while you were volunteering. What did you learn while there? Would you continue?

20. [blank] is meaningful to me because...

What do you appreciate in life? What brightens your day? What makes you fall in love? What does someone have to do to make you smile?

Finally, remember to be outgoing! Reveal that three-mile smile and open your arms to learning about others. Spread smiles, love, and happiness.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

5 Things To Look Forward To Even In The Middle Of End Of The Year Stress

There's always something to look forward to.


School is so close to the end. Seniors will be graduating really soon and juniors are now either nervous or excited about senior year. 8th graders are scared about entering into the most important 4 years of their lives so far. And of course, a yearly stress every high schooler will go through are AP exams. But, even with all these things in mind, here are 5 things to look forward to even in the middle of everything else.

1. Weather

Summer comes with so many amazing things. But, one of my all time favorites is weather. The weather is perfect for a nice picnic or a pool party. The sun shining always puts people in a good mood.

2. Sleep

Summer is the time to catch up on all the sleep you've missed this past year due to studying or doing homework. Now, you can freely sleep in and stay up as long as you want while getting the full 8 hours or more.

3. Vacations/ Stay-cations

This is the time to go explore and travel the world and experience new things. Seeing new cultures around the world and trying new foods is a great part of going on vacation. If not going on vacation, staying at home and relaxing is always a great way to rest your body and brain from everything.

4. Hanging out

This is the time to go explore and travel the world and experience new things. Seeing new cultures around the world and trying new foods is a great part of going on vacation. If not going on vacation, staying at home and relaxing is always a great way to rest your body and brain from everything.

5. Movie nights

Even though you have the option to sleep, obviously a movie marathon would be highly considered because sleeping in is always the right choice during the summer.

Related Content

Facebook Comments