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Title [Martial Arts Globe] Let’s Brag about Our Favorite Martial Art!
(C) LEE So
Have you ever spoken to other people about the martial arts you train? At a time when there are so many popular sports-related entertainment shows, such as Athletic Fat from Today(오늘부터 운동뚱), Sporty Sisters(노는 언니) and Girls Who Hit Goals(골때리는 그녀들), it’s becoming easier to talk about exercising and sports in everyday life. I also sometimes talk about Kumdo[ycho1] , the martial art that I am currently practicing. Most people who are close to me know that I train Kumdo, whether they’re my friends from the neighborhood or followers on Instagram.
Talking to a couple of friends about my experience of training a martial art was fun, but I’ve also shared my story of Kumdo practice with multiple people online, namely in a video call meeting through Zoom. It was an event for sharing experiences with working women, where I was invited to speak about my training.
(The writer in the middle is nervous as she begins her presentation. Two hosts of the show is sitting in front of her.)
Before the presentation, I became anxious. How am I supposed to talk about Kumdo to an audience who knows nothing about the art? Will anyone be interested in my experience of training a fairly unknown martial art, compared to trending sports like yoga or Pilates? The hosts who invited me to this experience-sharing event assured me by saying, “Exercising consistently and maintaining good health are important topics for everyone, so I think that it would be meaningful for you to share your own experiences as a long-term Kumdo practitioner.” Trusting these words, I started Zoom on my computer screen.
The rectangular shape of my computer screen looked exactly like the shape of a white-lined Kumdo match court.
Soon, my match—I mean, my presentation—began.
An Event Completed by Sharing and Giving
“I normally introduce myself as a writer and martial art practitioner, but please just think of me as a neighborhood sister that you might bump into at any community sports center.”
At first, I kept looking back and forth between the presentation materials and the script that I had prepared, until later when I was able to naturally communicate without reading the script. 40 minutes of my mind going blank out of nervousness, but despite my initial fears, I was able to mention some messages I wanted deliver. Perhaps I wanted others to understand the positive experiences that I earned from practicing my favorite martial art.
“It’s a positive cycle where a sense of physical wellbeing influences the mind, and the mind then influences the body in return. I’d like all of you to experience this process as well.”
“I don’t think this bodily accomplishment simply represents the process of becoming physically healthy. I believe that it is also practice for accumulating my own knowledge that cannot be taken away by anyone else, because something that I learn using my body cannot be stolen from me.”
(The author thinks “What?” as she feels a prick of conscience.)
When I said the words “my own knowledge,” the past years of training, injuries, grading tests and competitions flashed through my mind like a kaleidoscope. I felt a throb in my heart. There were times when I was injured during training, and times when I cried from anxiety ahead of a competition. At grading tests, I scaled the fortress of my own nervousness by focusing my mind. So many trials and errors that I no longer thought about on a daily basis, but nonetheless remained as traces somewhere within myself. I was proud to share these stories from my past experiences with others.
Words Shared with Me After the Presentation
My presentation was followed by a Q&A session. Some people asked questions about the presentation itself, while others shared their own stories about the sports into which they had poured their passion for a long time. The format where I spoke first then others replied with their questions reminded me of sparring at a gym. Sparring is only possible when an opponent is right in front of my eyes. In much the same way, stories cannot be told without listeners either. The event was made whole when my words were recognized by the people listening to me, which allowed me to realize the preciousness of such an occasion.
Later, I saw that the Zoom meeting also included real-time online chat messages, which I did not realize at the time since I was looking at my presentation screen. I was surprised by the diverse reactions in the chat log.
(The author reading comments on the Chat log.)
“It must be amazing to be in a state with no idle thoughts during training!”
“The part I found memorable was when you talked about realizing that sparring is a way to converse without saying anything.”
“Look at the definition of your muscles on your arm! That’s so cool!”
While I was giving my presentation, my arm was briefly shown on the screen through the laptop camera, which must have highlighted my forearm muscles. When I read this comment whilst on my way home, I couldn’t help but quietly grab my tummy.
I was so pleased to share my experiences and feelings from practicing Kumdo, as well as my personal growth that came as a result. My worries about “who on earth would be interested in my story?” instead gave way to the belief that “the more I talk about it, the more important and meaningful it becomes.” As you might have realized after listening to my endless expression of love for Kumdo over the 90-minute presentation, obsessing over my favorite martial art is sometimes difficult but always joyful experience.
Whether in our everyday life or at the gym, I think we owe it to ourselves to try our best in our very own match court where we train our body and mind.
※Ideas expressed in this writing are the author's own.