I asked powerful women in martial arts how training in their discipline helped them overcome issues, be stronger leaders and become more confident in themselves and less-self conscious of their bodies. I received so many replies from amazing women I decided to do a Martial Arts Mini Series. I hope you enjoy their stories of strength and endurance as much as I do.
Women in Martial Arts: Visit a dojo & see which discipline is right for you
By Hollis Colquhoun
I worked on Wall Street for 20 years as an institutional salesperson, then retired to stay at home and raise my 3 daughters. Around that time I blew out a disc in my lower back and had to have surgery. As I was recovering I read an article touting the therapeutic and strengthening powers of karate.
Soon after the parent of one of my youngest daughter’s friends was raving about the karate instructor her son had. I got the information and paid a visit to the dojo the following week. It is said that the hardest move in martial arts is taking the first step, but I was hooked almost immediately (even though I was twice as old as the other students).
The sensei had the right mental/ physical/ spiritual philosophy in his teaching. I kept at it through several 2 other surgeries and rehabs (cervical fusion and knee ACL) and 7 years later got my black belt. The sensei had to close the dojo soon after for economic reasons so I had to find another school. The only sensei who had the same martial arts philosophy was teaching tae kwondo (Korean) so I joined as a lower intermediate and basically started over again.
Six years later I was awarded my black belt. then got a second degree black level 18 months later. The dojo again closed for economic reasons. Fortunately a friend of mine was opening a karate dojo in my town and asked me to help him. I found my way back to karate. Through this journey I have learned the following: *Perseverance – I could have quit for valid reasons many times *Patience-the Journey is as important or more important than the Goal *Self confidence and inner strength-I now feel I’m capable of doing anything I set my mind to, and overcoming any obstacle I re-entered the workforce as a credit counselor for a nonprofit counseling agency and spoke to thousands of clients, most of whom were women in serious financial trouble.
A co-counselor and I decided to write a simple financial survival guide to promote financial education for women; our book was published last year. It is entitled “Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide”. In addition I have done free workshops on Financial Education and Survival Training (F.E.S.T.) to educate and empower women financially and personally. (I usually throw in some basic self-defense tactics as well.) At this point I am writing articles online, giving workshops and promoting the book, all with the purpose of providing financial education and empowerment to women.
My martial arts training has given me tremendous confidence and the desire to create that feeling of confidence in others. I believe that women should understand all of the things they are capable of, realize their worth, and take control of their personal and financial destiny. Women need to take some time on a regular basis to reflect on their life goals and build on their strengths, whether it be through meditation, taking walks, doing yoga, or becoming a karate student. Karate focuses on creating mental and physical balance (like aikido). With commitment and practice it is empowering on many levels.
I would recommend karate or aikido to women of all ages. If a woman can move past her fear and/or insecurities she can take that first step into the dojo and begin an incredible journey. I was recently awarded a second degree stripe in karate and I plan to keep practicing ’til I expire! As an aside, my three daughters are in their twenties, starting careers. They have watched my martial arts progress and have found inspiration and confidence through my accomplishments. email@example.com
Hollis Colquhoun is a financial professional, Accredited Financial Counselor and co-author of Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide. Throughout her adult life she has tried to meet her challenges head on, whether it be recovering from back, knee and neck surgery, raising money for a high school education foundation or dealing with divorce. Being a student of martial arts for the last 16 years has given her the mental and physical strength to overcome adversity and the passion to teach other women how to find inner strength and awareness. Hollis has black belts in both karate and tae kwondo and teaches classes in self defense.