Friendships forged in the martial arts

by Kristy Hitchens

Friends come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

I’m not an early bird or a night owl. I’ve read that makes me some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon. *sigh

I’m especially averse to dragging myself out of bed early for exercise. Those who do, I salute you (toes pointing up) from the comfort of my pillow.

So with this in mind, I have surprised even myself lately by joining a group of my Taekwondo buddies once a week for pattern practice by the water at (omg!) 6.30am.

You might think the incentive here is the location’s beautiful serenity. I have to admit, it’s a pretty lovely and, dare I say, Zen-like way to start the day.

Nope. Zen does not happen for me at sparrow’s fart in the morning. Even vague attempts at conversation begin only after coffee.

The motivator here is my Taekwondo friends. 

There we are, training together without a qualified instructor, with the simple aim of bettering our techniques and helping each other out.

We’re not there at this ungodly hour to just blow sunshine up each other’s butts. If one of us is getting their blocks mixed up or their chamber and stance needs work, we say. Afterall, it’s presented in a supportive environment of camaraderie.

It’s pretty darned awesome.

I’ve developed some really treasured friendships in the short time I’ve been doing Taekwondo.

I seem to connect with people there so effortlessly. You might recall I touched on this in my article about the Fight For Change event I was recently involved in organising. If you haven’t seen it, click through even just to see the amazing pic of all my Taekwondo sisters lined up together wearing our matching pink belts. It makes my heart sing.

I’ve also heard stories from followers of this blog (Thank you Tim and David!) about the enduring and life-long friendships they have forged through martial arts.

I thought it was a pretty magical phenomenon so as I’m sure as you’ve come to expect from me now, I figured I would pick this idea apart a little.

I’ve come up with a list of reasons I think my Taekwondo friendships (and those born through martial arts generally) are so robust.

Shared passion

When we’re together (or chatting via email etc) we can talk about Taekwondo until we’re blue in the face and no one gives us that look!

Committed to self-improvement

The process of improving your Taekwondo skills generally leads to a general pattern of seeking self-improvement in all aspects of your life.

Adventurous Spirit

Others at my club who have started Taekwondo later in life all seem to be generally active people and (only occasionally of course) will chat about their other pursuits like rollerskating, boxing, bjj, fire fighting, fishing and distance running which makes for easy conversation.

Positive Outlook

Taekwondo training just makes you happy. So when we get together, pretty much everyone is in a good mood.

Shared experiences

We set goals together, work towards them together and then achieve them together. There couldn’t be a better bonding experience than that.

Close contact

Newsflash: Learning to defend yourself from physical attack requires a lot of body contact with others.

Any reservations about giving up personal space you might have been desperately clinging to are flying out the window. This is a fast-track to developing a greater sense of ease around those in your Taekwondo team. My 21-year-old instructor John (quite literally HALF my age!) is built like a giraffe. Putting our arms around each other’s necks to demonstrate or practice a choke hold just goes with the territory. This stuff used to bother me, it doesn’t anymore. I’m just one of (at least) 35 other ‘mums’ John has at the club. Poor bloke haha!

They just get it!

It’s like a cool secret ninja society *wink, wink