Before I ever stepped through the doors of Revolution Martial Arts Institute and learned my first
form or threw my first kick, Ralph Macchio, the teachings of Mr. Miyagi, and their Cobra Kai
adversaries were the only references I had when it came to karate. If you had parents that grew
up in the 80s, or lived through the 80s yourself, I’m sure this is a point of view that you can also
In all the times that I would practice Daniel’s infamous match point crane kick in my bedroom or
recite Cobra Kai’s “No Mercy” mantra…”we do not train to be merciful here, mercy is for the
weak,” you know where I’m going with this; martial arts training was not something I imagined
myself doing out in the real world.
For those of you that know me from class, or have recently seen me working behind the RMAI
desk, you might know a little bit of my story. For those that don’t, it is not my intention to make
this post, or any others in the future, an all about me rant. I’ll try my best anyway. Instead, I hope
that by sharing some of my experiences, I can create some sort of dialogue for everyone that’s a
part of this karate loving community; whether you’re a current or former student, the parent of a
student, or maybe someone like myself who having never had any previous martial arts training
now can’t imagine what my life would be like without it. That might sound a bit dramatic but I
am a writer at heart and we tend to have a flare for the dramatic.
I originally decided to try out karate as a way to get more active again. I was an avid field
hockey player throughout high school but being that I went to a division one college, I knew that
my playing career wasn’t going to carry me through the next four years of undergrad. I was
good…but I can admit I wasn’t D1 good. During college I dabbled with rugby for a semester,
played a bit of club tennis, started getting really into doing yoga in my dorm; much to my
roommate’s amusement, but nothing really stuck for a long stretch of time.
My mom actually brought up the idea for me to try karate. Now she always jokes that I should
quit with how banged up I come home after classes during the week. To quote the words of
Master Celona, “but did you die?”
Leading up to my first class on November 12, 2020, I was extremely nervous. Aside from
wanting something active to do, I had no real idea of what to expect outside of the karate kid. I
do remember taking a few after school karate classes when I was young but I think I was just in
it for the uniform at that point.
I was coming right from work that day so I made sure I had everything I could possibly need
ahead of time; contacts, change of clothes, water; not that we’re allowed to drink water during
class anyway. My fellow trainees know the struggle.
While I didn’t know this at the time, the classes during the week used to either be split up by
rank or by age. Since my first class happened to be on a Thursday, I would end up in a class split
up by rank, white to yellow belts. Now on the surface that seems fine, right? It’s my first day so
I’ll be in a class with all beginners like me. All the flying headbutts will be saved for the more
advanced classes. To my initial shock, however, upon looking around the room at the rest of my
classmates. I noticed something a bit peculiar. Everyone was about a whole two feet shorter and
at least 12 years younger than I was. Oh great, I’m the only adult in a sea full of children, this’ll
be so much fun. I hope my sarcasm here is pretty evident.
Now being a fifth gup with year and a half of training under my belt, haha karate joke; I can’t
imagine not having walked to RMAI on that fateful day; even with all of the initial
embarrassment that I felt not only due to the fact that I was the only student whose birth year
started with 19 but just being a new student in general in an environment that was completely
foreign to me.
While I still have so much more to learn and a long way that I hope to travel through this martial
arts journey that I’m on, a good enough time has passed for me to look back and see how far I’ve
come. It’s almost funny to think about white belt Maddie not knowing what a kihap was or what
foot steps and what hand does the block in line drills; those still trip me up sometimes to be
honest. The great thing that I’ve come to learn about martial arts is that it’s so multifaceted.
While most people see karate as being solely about kicking and punching, that only scratches the
surface. That’s honestly what I thought karate entailed, and was I wrong. So if you’re worried
that karate isn’t for you because you can’t touch the ceiling with your jumping front kick or do a
flying side kick over four people, do not fret, because I honestly believe that there’s something in
martial arts for everyone to excel at.
Anyway, I hope to have more conversations like this with you all. I’ll have to come up with a
catchy slogan for this blog in the meantime. Maybe Karate conversations with Maddie or the
Revolution of RMAI’s karate blog…don’t worry. I’ll work on it. For now, I’ll end this how we
end class. “Pilsung on three…one, two, three, PILSUNG!”