What will you learn from doing martial arts?

What 8 Years Of Martial Arts Have Taught Me

Tang Soo Do will always hold a special place in my heart


In second grade, I began taking Tang Soo Do martial arts classes. I stopped taking classes during my sophomore year of high school due to an over-demanding schedule and distance. The eight years of learning this art of self-defense challenged me not only physically, but also mentally. Nevertheless, Tang Soo Do will always hold a special place in my heart as I am thankful for all of the knowledge and my "karate family" I gained over the years. As a female in a male dominated sport I was greatly intimidated by my male counterparts but I never let that stop me. I found an art that I loved then and still do now. Here are some of the important takeaways from my experience as a martial artist.

1. Self-defense

This is the most obvious of the things learned from taking such classes. I learned numerous sparring techniques, hand-to-hand combat maneuvers, and forms.

2. Justice

Personally, I classify this as the ability to know how to decide which fights are worth fighting. It is important to understand the difference between right and wrong and to stick to your morals.

3. Respect

In class, the importance of respecting our instructors and fellow students was drilled into our minds. I am thankful for this as it has spread into other aspects of my life and has trained me to be respectful to all, even if they may not respect me up front.

4. Responsibility

If you showed up late to class, forgot a piece of uniform, or misbehaved we were given longer workouts at the start of class (typically we had to do a certain number of push-ups). This was very good at teaching me to also make sure that I have my stuff together ahead of time. Just as I was the one responsible for making sure I had all of my things, I was responsible for my actions. Being responsible is a significant character trait and my experience in martial arts classes has pushed me to really accept that I am the only person who is responsible for my decisions.

5. Self-discipline

This coincides with justice, respect, and responsibility in that I have learned to refrain myself from picking certain battles and to "bite my tongue" in certain situations. It is important to not let your emotions get the best of you in certain circumstances. However, self-discipline also comes with knowing when you should stand up for yourself and where to draw the line in how you choose to do so.

6. Don't be afraid to test your limits

If there is a new move that you can learn, go for it. Don't be scared of trying new things that are outside of your comfort zone. I wouldn't have been able to earn my first degree black belt if I wouldn't have pushed myself to go beyond my comfort zone.

7. Know your limits, understand them 

This one may seem contradictory to not being afraid to test your limits, but it is important to not push yourself too far, to understand any physically limitations that may be standing in your way. There is nothing wrong with testing your limits, but make sure to do so in a healthy way. Don't be too hard on yourself if you have to take things a little slower than others or if you have to practice more to get something right.

8. "Harmony, Speed, Grace"

This last takeaway is one of the closest to my heart as we ended every class with these three words - "Harmony. Speed. Grace. Tang Soo Do." Live in harmony with others, do not pick arguments where they are needed. Know when it is okay to move fast and how to think quickly on your feet, but also give yourself time to take things slow and think through certain decisions. Be graceful in your actions, never lose touch with what makes you who you are.

I will forever be thankful for all that my instructor and everyone else who was a member of my "karate family" has taught me, how they have helped me grow, how they have inspired me to do great things, and how they have shaped me into a well rounded young woman. It has been several years since I have stepped foot into the karate gym, but I will always hold it close to me. There are times when I picture myself going through the motions in my head, every move and technique vivid and clear.

Popular Right Now

I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.


I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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

Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.


I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

Related Content

Facebook Comments