Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

10 Years of Martial Arts


I’ve been studying martial arts for 10 years now. I hit the milestone back in June. My studies have been erratic over the years — sometimes I was taking 7 classes a week, sometimes I was skipping classes for months at a time because of work or a writing deadline. Sometimes classes were fun, and sometimes they were miserable. They were always hard.

Sifu Carrie once noted that I’d been studying for a long time. I said, no, that I’d missed so many classes over the years. She waved me off. She said some people come in and take classes, and that’s it. Kung fu is something they do two or three times a week. But some people are thinking about martial arts all the time, during class and outside of it. They’re martial artists even when they aren’t in class. Martial arts transforms their lives.

And yeah, that’s me. Martial arts has changed my life in immensely profound ways. It’s given me a philosophy of living and believing — which is astounding, really, when I had made such a point of believing in nothing before I started.

The whole idea of Mind, Body, Spirit and how they’re interwoven, part of the same system, has opened my eyes. Before martial arts, I’d exiled Body. I considered it a lesser thing, thought of it as separate from me. A prison. Now I feel whole.

Most of the things martial arts has given me have nothing to do with punching and kicking… although really, punching and kicking are terrifically fun. Before martial arts, I had no idea how hard I could work, how hard I could push myself. I have no doubt at all that martial arts has made me a better writer and a better human being.

I have colored sashes and belts, and some of them are even black. They’re reminders of years of hard work. But if I never got a new one, I’d be fine. I just want to keep learning, to keep practicing mindfulness and focus, to keep discovering new things about myself, to keep pushing.

In martial arts, maybe more than in another other field, it’s about the journey. Ten years aren’t nearly long enough, but they’re a start.

I don’t have any blog posts prior to 2007 on this site, but here are some of my favorite martial arts entries from the last few years:

11.02.2007 – Yes, I pay to do this
01.22.2009 – Meet Whisper
04.07.2009 – Meet Mr. Pointy
09.22.2009 – Unexpected Names (Meet Blueberry)
01.01.2010 – Tiger, Dragon
06.10.2010 – Ode to Bruises

Soon, I will import my old journal entries and find the picture of me getting my first yellow belt, back in the summer of 2001.

About the author

Jenn Reese


  • Really interesting post, and you've made me realise the effect martial arts has had on me also. The idea of turning up a couple of times a week as opposed to living with martial arts as part of your psyche are so vastly different I wouldn't have thought I fell in to the latter category until I read this.

    I've been studying HEMA for nearly two years now, and I don't know if it's because of me and where I was in my life when I found it, or the nature of the study itself (because it is a study, a lifelong, personal one – a passion, rather than a hobby) that fitted my personality, but I find I think differently about many things because of it.

    Great post, you've got another follower :)

    • So glad my post resonated with you! It's really hard to explain what martial arts is and can do — beyond the physical — to people who haven't experienced it. HEMA sounds fantastic! I studied historical fencing a bit in college, when I was part of the SCA. I vastly prefer it to modern fencing, but was never much good at either. One of my only scars is a fencing scar from high school. :) I think you're right, though, that what martial arts does to us (and for us) has a lot to do with where we are in our lives when we start. I think I could have tried it in my 20s and not been ready for what it offered me in my 30s. (And now my 40s.) Thanks for commenting! I look forward to hearing more about your studies, if you decide to blog about them.

      • I have blogged on it a little – it was meant to be a writing blog but the rapier started to creep in. Will put some more up soon, waiting on the vid from my first every tournament to be cut!

        • Oh, wow — looking forward to that video! And I’m always more interested in blogs that cover the entire range of people’s passions. There are an awful log of writing blogs out there, but not many that combine writing and rapier.

By Jenn Reese
Jenn Reese Writer, Artist, Geek

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