Last week, all of the university’s Martial Arts groups held free taster sessions as part of Martial Arts Week. I was taken to Jiu Jitsu and Tae Kwon Do under the force of a very keen friend who is on the committee for Tae Kwon Do. As someone who hasn’t hit anyone since I was nine (she deserved it, she was rude about my recorder playing), I was more than a little apprehensive.
My apprehension grew at the start of the Jiu Jitsu session when the instructor announced that the first move that we would attempt would be a strangle. After being assured by my friend that he wasn’t joking, we found partners and I was faced with a very tall man asking “is it okay if I go ahead and strangle you now?” My answer was no, in no universe is that okay. He then asked if I would like to strangle him, which I assured him was no better. So we began very lightly, practicing the escape technique until I felt more comfortable. Eventually, I consented to open myself up to certain death and try the hold properly.
By the end of the session I was confidently attacking my partners and blocking their attacks. I soon got over my fear of being hurt, as everyone was exceptionally friendly and helpful. No one pushed me when I wasn’t ready, and soon I was asking them to try harder as I was so keen to improve. We even learnt to throw someone to the ground, and I can tell you that there is no greater feeling than flooring someone much larger than you.
Tae Kwon Do was just as fun and friendly. It is less contact based than Jiu Jitsu, which may suit some people’s tastes. It is based on kicking and hitting rather than holds and throws, though there were some similarities as both classes taught useful self-defence such as how to escape if someone grabs your wrist or disarm someone who attacks you with a bottle.
My advice to anyone who has never considered martial arts before is definitely to give it a go! Kung Fu and Karate were also involved in this week, although I haven’t yet attended these particular groups, so there are plenty of styles to try! It’s not only a great way to keep fit, but I learnt valuable lessons about self-defence. I certainly never imagined that I would enjoy it, but now I am perhaps a little concerned by how much I enjoy hitting strangers. The martial arts are definitely some of the most fun, practical and friendly societies on campus!