Welcome to our third week of Get Active month! Gosh, the month is jsut flying past, isn’t it? It’s almost like March is getting Active all by itself… Today we’re talking to Roz Quin, who is both a student and teacher from Firestorm Martial Arts.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a student and instructor with Firestorm Martial Arts. In teaching I mostly deal with Junior classes and the Women’s Assertive Self Protection (W.A.S.P.) workshops that my instructor and I designed for real-world application by women (a lot of styles don’t get that men and women have different bodies and so different pros and cons when it comes to assault).
In junior classes we focus on bully-proofing our kids, teaching them to disengage from a fight safely…along with techniques they could use on more serious assaults and of course a lot of fun stuff.
As for my own training – I’m a 1st degree black belt with a (currently neglected) love of weaponry and grappling. I’m currently studying to be ‘regular’ fitness instructor too. I attend karate classes as well as the boxing fitness classes we run at the dojo – because sometimes you just need to go nuts on a bag, ha ha.
How did you get into Martial Arts?
When I was little I would stand on the sidelines and watch my father do martial arts and weaponry…he was like something out of a movie. I think watching a true martial artist, with strength and confidence in every move really stuck in my head – possibly because I was neither strong nor confident. I wanted to be just like him and the other martial artists in my life – even my baby sitter was a black belt! There are old photos of me in girly dresses and pigtails standing at the edge of training sessions trying to mimic the class. I saw a little girl doing the same thing at one of the classes I was taking just the other day. Thank goodness we have Little Dragon and Junior classes these days!
What do you find are the rewards of doing Martial Arts?
I think some of the rewards are more obvious than others. Fitness is the most obvious, but a side note of that is that the fitness is not just a cardio or strength based workout, I think training as we do we begin to have a greater awareness of the positioning and endurance of our body.
There’s also the mental side of training…strength, honor, respect, commitment – they’re all key words in the dojo, but it’s when it filters out into your life that it becomes noticeable. You can be the greatest fighter in the world, but unless you’re a good person, you end up very lonely in a martial arts club or family. Self confidence too…I always forget that one, because it sneeks up on you – you timidly join up, and before long you’re not hiding in the corner any more – you’re standing up for yourself and dancing (or fighting) like nobody is watching!
Have you ever had to use it outside of the confines of the dojo?
Not really, thank goodness. I’ve broken up fights before in pubs and such, but mostly I’m more useful for people who hurt themselves – there’s always strapping tape or first aid on me somewhere! I can strap an ankle in under a minute!
Do you need a specific level of fitness to train in Martial Arts?
Not at all. We have all levels of fitness join up…but it’s addictive training and we’ve seen some amazing people change their fitness and their lives. We have a lot of people (myself included) who have joined in order to reclaim and rebuild from an injury or stave off the notion of ‘too old’…for example a lady I know got her black belt at age 60.
Is there a lot of women in Martial Arts?
When I first started Martial Arts there weren’t many, but these days we’re taking over the clubs! Mostly they start for self protection reasons, but like I said – training is addictive, the club is addictive and once women figure out that it’s not the testosterone parade that they think it is they’re up and fighting.
What are the types of things you need to learn to be a fitness trainer?
Regardless of type of instruction you’re going to be doing I’d say the three most important things you need are solid technical knowledge, great people skills and a willingness to learn, which may sound odd, but as a instructor you can’t stand still otherwise you’ll not only end up teaching everything you know, but you’ll lose passion for your own training as well – and that’s worse.
Technically you study a lot about the human body- and I mean a lot: how it works, what it needs and what it’s capable of. It’s amazing stuff. You’ll also learn a lot about nutrition, managing people and helping them set goals – but I think a lot of what makes a good instructor doesn’t come from the books or certifications… it comes from the love of sharing your sport with others and seeing them catch that same fire you caught.
In the popular culture view of Martial Arts, spirituality seems to play a big part. Is this reflective of reality?
I think it is, but not in a traditional spiritual sense. I think those of us who train find a lot of what we need in training, but that each need varies greatly from person to person. On a personal level I feel that the martial arts highlights the lessons of life and more directly took away my fear to really push myself beyond what I thought were limits and discover what I was really made of.
There are such a number of Martial Arts types, what are the best ones for beginners to attempt?
Depending on the person and motivation for wanting to join a Martial Arts club I would recommend that you try out a few classes to see which suits you best – all good martial arts clubs will let you come and try a few classes with them. Before trying a club, figure out what you want to join for (eg. fitness, to compete or for self protection…etc) then have a small mental checklist when you go and have a try of things you want to look for such as:
* Are you welcomed and given a good chance to discuss any injuries or concerns with the instructor?
* Are they qualified to instruct you? (Including a working with children license if you’re under age)
* Is there a first aid kit?
* Do you feel that the style will suit your needs?
* Does the atmosphere of the club suit you?
* Do the fees cover insurance etc?
* Do you feel that their teaching style suits you?
* Does the club have social activities? Regular grading? Tournaments? Camps? Is participation required or optional?
* What’s the general attitude of the club? Are poor attitudes or lack of respect addressed?
I personally am a big fan of freestyle, kick boxing and MMA…but I know some people go crazy for Kung Fu. Try as many as you can once or twice and see how you feel about them!
What would you say to someone considering trying Martial Arts out?
Do it. DO IT. Especially if you’re shy – Martial arts is immensely empowering and surrounding yourself with good, strong people is the best way to add oomph to your life.