My name is Katherine and I am a 2nd Dan instructor at Toowong branch. I have been training “The female perspective” since 2001 and have a special interest in teaching other females. I am a firm believer in the remarkable benefits that martial arts can make in a woman’s life – especially because I have experienced them myself!
When I started training, I was a shy and chubby 10 year old, who was constantly being bullied at school by the skinny girls. In hindsight, I realise that these girls were not picking on me because I was a bad person, but because they had their own family and self-image issues and found that I was an easy target to project on. When you’re only 10 years old with such an immense lack of self-esteem, you find it very hard to fight back, and these other girls really got the better of me at times.
I intensified my training in 2003 when I moved on to an all girls high school. I was a black tip at the time and training twice a day in the hopes of getting my junior black belt by the end of the year. It’s hard to escape bullying when you’re placed in a school with a thousand other hormonal teenage girls, but this time it was different.
In my training, I had a set goal I was working towards. I started to see gradual improvements in the control I had over my body, and noticed my techniques becoming faster and stronger. This started to translate into my everyday life, where I developed a great sense of confidence which I had never felt before.
I remember walking into my grade 8 class one day and making a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to take any rubbish from anyone. There were a few girls who tried to make me miserable, but it was like water off a ducks back.
Many of us instructors will preach to our student about the mental benefits of taekwondo, but you don’t truly understand this concept until you feel it yourself. By the time I had achieved my junior black belt at the end of 2003, I had transformed into an athletic and focused young woman. For the first time in my life, I was told I was one of the ‘high achievers’. I finally felt like the beautiful butterfly instead of the ugly caterpillar!
I went on to achieve my 1st Dan in 2005, and found that my marks at school drastically improved. I was able to concentrate significantly more, and never had any more issues with bullies to distract me. I graduated in 2007 and started medical school the following year. I became addicted to the feeling of achieving a goal, but I was no longer a stranger to the amount of work that had to be put in. I have certainly been reminded of it this year, when I finally achieved my 2nd Dan black belt after years of training, and am due to finish my medical degree in December.
When you are a girl, particular during your influential teenage years, it’s so easy to get caught up in issues with image. Through my emergency department placements, I have seen countless young women with low self-worth who partake in unnecessarily dangerous risk taking behaviour, simply because they think it will make them look cool to their peers. I can assure you, there is nothing ‘cool’ about having to tell the parents of a 15 year old that she’s drunk, high on drugs, in trouble with the police or even pregnant. When a girl has enough confidence in herself, she doesn’t need to gain approval from others, nor does she need to form an image of herself based on how others perceive her.
To the parents reading this – being a girl can be hard sometimes. Make it easier for your daughter by fostering a sense of confidence and worth in her. It may just change her life! “