Tag: training

The Invisible Black Belt

A lot of people don’t know this, but I experienced a unique journey into the male-dominated, testosterone-infested world of martial arts at the tender young age of 47. To my surprise (and everyone else’s), I became my teacher’s first female black belt ten years later.

In the twenty-year-long history of the martial arts school, no woman had ever achieved the rank of black belt. I was the first, and I shattered a lot of glass ceilings and belief systems along the way, including my own. I have many funny, inspiring, and heart wrenching stories as my training helped me evolve physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Yes, I said spiritually. Because there is a strong sense of spirituality embedded in a high level and elite  martial art like the one I was studying. You are developing your own spirit (or character) as you learn valuable life skills which help you cope with anything and everything that comes your way, both on the mat and life in general.

In a bizarre twist of fate, I began training in Ninpo Tai Jutsu, an ancient Japanese martial art, in September of 2003. The truth is, I never went looking for the art. Instead, the art came looking for me, and simply would not take “NO” for an answer. I shocked everyone when I began training, including myself, because I just knew I would hate it.

I didn’t hate it. I fell in love with the art, the training, and the sense of empowerment I gained from training. Through my journey into this ancient, mysterious and beautiful martial art, I learned discovered a part of myself that I never knew existed. Ninpo Tai Jutsu helped me realize my personal power and unleash the Invisible Black Belt that had been buried deep inside me all along.

All of the principles that I learned in my training has helped me in every aspect of my life. I share these principles with my many audiences in my speaking engagements, workshops, and classes. I believe that there is an Invisible Black Belt in each and every one of us, just waiting to be unleashed to help us realize our personal power and reclaim our human dignity.

Let me help you discover yours!

A strictly forbidden learning experience….

My journey into the world of martial arts has been interesting, as well as educational, to say the least. I have often been the lone female in a testosterone filled environment, but I’ve gotten used to it. I’ve even learned to enjoy it, but that’s probably because I’m a natural born flirt.

However, I love training with other women, and I am fortunate to be in a school where there are several other women who train. Women seem to have a natural ability and spirit, which is something my Sensei told me during the three years that it took him to get me on the mat. I didn’t believe him then, but I certainly do now. I just wish more women would train in some form of martial art, but I know how intimidating it is to walk into a male dominated Dojo. .

Which is why I began teaching self defense classes for women only. It’s a lot less intimidating for women to enter a safe and fun environment, learn from another woman who’s been around the block a few times, and also knows her way around the mat. It’s an idea that came to me early in my training, and something that developed through the years.

During the course of my training, I became acquainted with a group of men that practice an art that is different from mine but has similar roots. I’ve been invited to their seminars and workshops and have attended several of them. Even though I was from another discipline, I was always invited, and they continue to update me on upcoming events.

Since they always keep me in their circle I sent them my information regarding my women’s self defense classes. I thought they might be interested in what I was doing, and I’m sure they know plenty of ladies who would like to learn a few things to protect themselves. I received a terse response from one of their instructors.

He told me, “Well, we don’t have any women students, and I do teach men and women.” I giggled. If they have no women in their school, how could he possibly teach them? And, if they did have women in their school, why would those women need of a basic self defense class? That’s just silly. Then I wondered why they didn’t have any women in their school.

He informed me that the lineage of our arts are different. Of course, I’ve always known that. So has he. He concluded by telling me that while he has the utmost respect for my art, he must follow directives which strictly forbid cross training between us. Yikes! I wish I had known that before I took their training seminars. If I had known I was engaging in an activity that was strictly forbidden, I would have enjoyed it more. It would have been even more fun, and I would have felt a little naughty.

I guess the flow of information is a one way street. How disappointing. Even more disappointing is the women who may have benefited from just a few classes who will now never receive this information. I understand that he was trying to protect his territory. But, he doesn’t understand is that I am trying to protect women. Or at least teach them how to protect themselves.

The ability to learn how to defend yourself should be easily and appropriately available to everyone, regardless of their age, gender, level of ability and personal belief system. We should be encouraging those who are vulnerable to find their power and strength, not holding them back because some one’s ego got in the way.  Hmmm, maybe that’s the reason there aren’t any women in their school.

    Opportunities to learn are everywhere. Each one should be supported and celebrated rather than discouraged or tossed aside. No learning opportunity should never be strictly forbidden, for anyone, but especially to those who can benefit the most.