• 63°

And now, for something completely different: Hiii-yah!

For my new experience this week, I decided to kick things into high gear by taking my very first martial arts class.

This goal of trying new things prodded me to reconnect with an old Facebook friend whom I knew took Tae Kwon Do, and I asked him where I could start. He saw my request for a Taekwondo class and raised me a Jui Jitsu class.

While I wasn’t sure that I would still be standing after the first one, not to mention I had no idea what the difference was, I agreed to go to both. (As it turns out, Jui Jitsu doesn’t require much standing anyway — but I’ll get to that late

WEB-AlainaColumn

r).

I was really excited about trying a martial arts class. It’s actually always been something I’ve had a small interest in, yet never bothered to try. But as the time grew closer, more and more visions of getting kicked around by kids half my size started entering my head, and it dawned on me that I had no idea what I really signed up for.

Luckily for me, my friend was very encouraging, and like my other new experiences, it was a very easy going, do-what-you-can type of atmosphere. Plus, the class was small and consisted of other working adults who were nice to me and didn’t kick me around.

Tae Kwon Do mostly focuses on technique, so I didn’t have to spar with anyone. It’s of Korean origin, and it mostly taught the proper form on kicking and punching — which makes sense because I also learned that the name itself translates to “the art of the hand and foot.”

I was surprised how many of my former “yoga skills” were incorporated throughout, since a lot of the technique involves balancing and attention to breathing. It was surprisingly very therapeutic, and in the beginning I even started to feel like a bit of a natural. But that was short-lived as soon as the instructor added a second step.

In the next class I got a taste of Jui Jitsu, which I thought would be from a similar origin, but it’s actually Brazilian — although there are different kinds. For this one, I suited up and wore one of those martial arts outfits which are often seen in the movies, which is apparently called a “gi.” It made me feel pretty official, minus the bottoms falling to my ankles in the middle of class.

Jui Jitsu is mostly “ground fighting.” Minus the warm-up laps, the entire time is spent on the floor and more or less wrapped around a fighting partner. I sum up the experience as a, “What to do if you’re in this situation” class. It focuses on instincts and what to do, as well as not what to do and essentially how to get out of someone else’s control.

It involves really good self-defense methods that I hope I will never have to use, but I think every woman should know. It also serves as some incredible stress relief. I mean, if learning how to effectively choke someone doesn’t do the trick, I don’t know what will.

Both classes were such a positive experience that I have been considering taking it up on a regular basis.

But what’s possibly even better about trying out things like this are the people I’ve reached out to and connected with. I had a blast reconnecting with my old friend, and I know that probably wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t make the effort to go out of my comfort zone to try something different. I’m so grateful for each new experience and each person who has helped me along with this small journey, and I hope to never take that for granted.

This is a weekly series about following through with a New Year’s resolution to have a new experience each week. To suggest topics or experiences, email alaina.akens@elizabethton.com.