Martial artists kicking it up to a new level


He lays there on the ground, eyes shooting back and forth in distress, head thumping and spinning. His mind suddenly flashes back to his lessons, and his practice, and despite his fear, he feels safe.

Martial arts are different fighting and self-defense forms learned by people all around the world. Freshman Jaden Cook, junior Bradley Chan, and senior Brina Bodnar all participate or participated in one or more of these arts.

“My dad was a black belt in Taekwondo in college,” Cook said.

After three years, Cook earned a black belt in Taekwondo. In addition, for the past four months, he has been learning Judo and has a white belt, Cook said.

“When I was younger I tried to do soccer and baseball and all of that stuff, and I was never really good at them, I just didn’t really like them,” Cook said. “My dad told me that I should try martial arts, so I did Taekwondo one day and I fell in love with it right away.”

Taekwondo translates to ‘the way of hand and foot’ meaning that it includes fast motions of kicking and hitting. Judo means ‘gentle way’ in Japanese, so it consists of throwing and tripping movements, Cook said.“It’s different for every person, but for me, I love the exercise and all of the stuff we do,” Cook said. “I like how it’s practical but it’s also an art form.”

Cook said that since he started a few years ago, he has gotten a huge confidence boost not only from his improved athletic ability, but also from his kinder attitude in general.

“Mentally and physically, I just feel amazing compared to a couple years ago,” Cook said. “It’s crazy.”

Growing up, Cook had always loved watching films with intricate fighting scenes in them.
He said that martial arts have also made him happier and more peaceful.

“I used to get angry really easily and I still do, but now I can just shake it off,” Cook said.
Cook said that his skills in martial arts act as a safety net throughout his everyday life.

“It’s like when you go outside in the cold and you know it’s cold, but it’s like I have a jacket so I’ll be fine’,” Cook said. “It’s kind of like a backup.”

Similar to Cook, senior Brina Bodnar has learned a method of martial arts called Krav Maga, a self-defense fighting form developed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

“I wanted to learn how to defend myself physically since I am going to be going to college in a little bit, so I feel that that’s important to know,” Bodnar said.

Bodnar said that having the skill she has acquired has allowed her to feel safer even just walking down the street.

“If you keep on repeating how to block from a punch or get out of a chokehold, you get used to it and it becomes ingrained in your mind, so if it happens in real life, you’ll know what to do,” Bodnar said.

Junior Bradley Chan has earned a black belt in the martial art of Taekwondo, origins of it unknown but guessed to have been from around Korea.

“My studio really focused on respect, self-discipline, and discipline for everything,” Chan said.

Chan said that in the beginning of his martial arts experience, he was supposed to memorize a creed which held the key points of honesty, respect, and physical and mental strength.

Although he and his fellow martial artists didn’t memorize the creed, they still lived by it.

“When you’re practicing, you’re holding the stance for around five minutes at a time and it gets really sore, but you hold that stance because you know it’s going to strengthen you,”

Chan said. “While you’re in the stance your mind can tend to wonder, but you really have to stay on top of it and focus, and that’s really how it hones your mentality.”

Because of his acquired skills in martial arts, Chan’s family and friends have begun to depend on him more to keep them safe, Chan said.

“I would recommend [martial arts] because it’s like another class you take, except a class that you can apply to life that will last you the rest of your life,” Chan said. “It’s something that would really benefit you, there’s no downside to it.”

Chan said that martial arts introduce people to many interesting things, not only about fighting and self-defense, but also simply about the world.

“You get really physically fit, you get to be cool to people, you get respect from a lot of other martial artists, it brings you into a new community, and it’s a fun time,” Chan said.