So, how do I start kickboxing?
The first thing you need to do before you can have a kickboxing match is to join a kickboxing club or karate dojo (hall in Japanese). It is pretty easy and straightforward. They do not even ask you too many questions. You do not even need an ID. Just come in t-shit and flexible pants and start your first class.
Time and Money
After your first class, they will explain to you their timetable and give you forms to fill in. At this point, you can pay now or at your next class. Nevertheless, make sure you pay as soon as possible because it is bad etiquette to make late payments.
Rich Dojo, Poor Dojo
I have trained at both expensive low-budget martial arts institutions. My first dojo was a proper karate school. It was the Shindokan Judo and Karate School in Seapoint, Cape Town. Gareth the Sensei and owner would have mixed martial arts classes two evenings a week especially for adults but there were teenagers who took the classes as well. Even an international model took the classes. It was cool. If my heart is anywhere in Cape Town, it is definitely at that dojo.
Those classes took place only twice a week for an hour each. On Tuesdays, we did boxing combinations, self-defence Krav Maga, core fitness, jujitsu and karate drills. Thursdays we did endurance (lots of jumping and burpees), stretching, karate kicking drills and ground and pound MMA bag drills.
Got Any Gear, Mate?
At this dojo, we used focus pads, punching bags, pads, and gloves. They had extra old gloves you could use if you did not bring your own. You could also buy all the gear you needed there.
Before I started my first MMA self-defence classes, I could not punch. The way I found out that I could not punch was when I had to punch a man who was holding my wrist firmly, demanding sex from me. I was just lucky that the fact that I punched him with a limp jab to the face startled him so much that he threw himself back. At that point, I was able to quickly open the door and let myself out.
Change Begins With You.
The fact that a man had attacked me like that was the turning point for me. We women go about our lives expecting other people to protect us. We wait for the police, the security, men in our lives, and the government to protect us. We like marching, as if degenerate assholes are going to listen to our cries. All we know about self-defence are catfights among ourselves where we pull each other’s hair, fighting over men, jealousy and envy. We hurt each other while we remain helpless at the hands of our abusers. I wanted change.
Self-Confidence = Self-defence.
As a woman, I still want protection and for this world to be a safer place. However, now with some martial arts skills, I can protect myself where I can. I am not saying that I am going to look for trouble or make bad relationship choices. What I am saying is now I do not have to be afraid. I do not have to take violence lying down. I can walk with confidence. Confidence, my sensei has told me, is your first line of defence. People think twice about bullying a confident person.
Moving to The World’s Rape Capital
I had to move back to Johannesburg after only two months of my first MMA training. However, those two months laid the foundation to how I execute my fighting skills. Those were by far the best classes that I will ever take.
The beauty about the classes in Cape Town was the size. We would have about 6-8 students in a class and have ample individual attention. When we did sparring or bag work our “sensei” or “sinpai” would keep an eye on us. The amount of guidance we got helped us not to develop bad technical habits.
Technique Matters Too
It is very important always to have someone check you for bad techniques or habits so you do not reinforce them and make them part of your general style. Of course, no one is perfect. No one can master every technique. That is why we have to learn what our strengths are and try to use them more often.
Fitness Goes Backwards
When I moved back to Joburg, I did almost no form of exercise for almost ten months. I was in bad shape. I tried to formulate my own exercise regiment at home. Nevertheless, I lacked the discipline and motivation. I was not even motivated enough to make an enquiry at the local recreational centre about martial arts classes.
When Opportunity Meets Determination
One day, woman I knew told me she was taking kickboxing classes every weekday evening. I decided that was my window of opportunity to find out more and join. This was the day I stopped making excuses. I went to my first class the next evening.
Tough Workout Conditions
Now this was not a place for international models or rich kids. It was in the main hall of the community centre. There were no safety mats. There was only the ice-cold flooring. In winter, the only way to stay warm is to burn calories. In summer, the only way to stay cool is to sweat and let it cool down on you. These were tough conditions. There was no heating. There was no air-conditioning.
Bigger is Better.
These classes are huge. More than thirty people would attend the classes. Mostly children, a few serious amateur kickboxers and women trying to get into shape attended the classes.
Pain Can’t Keep You Away.
I was intimidated. I did not sense much friendliness, at first. The fitness drills were gruelling. I felt like quitting. There was no one to give me words of encouragement or make me feel special. Moreover, the pain was agonising. Nevertheless, I went right back to the training centre, after I took a few days off to rest and recuperate.
When Your Coach Believes In You
I really thrived and my fitness and skills accelerated. My sensei (coach), really wanted me to fight in the upcoming tournament. Moreover, for whatever reason, I believed I could do it and succeed.
It’s About More Than Beauty
By then, I was not just training for a nice body. I was training to win a gold medal. Moreover, I did not just attend kickboxing classes to make friends or to socialise. I went for a championship. I was going to win. Losing was not part of my plans.
Only Determination Counts
At this dojo, we do not have much in terms of facilities, equipment and gear. All we have is a very dedicated sensei, two focus pads, bare concrete flooring, each other, and spirit. We also have a tire to kick with our shins for conditioning. Tough conditions make tough people.
To Be The Best
You do not need much to be the best. Gym facilities do not make champions. I am going to prove that. My surroundings and my circumstances do not dictate what I can achieve. They do not limit my talent.
I went on to win my first fight. I fought against an opponent 10 kilogram heavier than I was. Nevertheless, I had style, grace, rhythm and determination. I did not even sweat. The fight lasted three rounds but I could have gone on for 10 rounds. I would have given the crowd a great show.