Martial Arts by definition is the use of physical skills as a means of self-defense or combat. However, I believe a greater meaning exits. My understanding of martial arts involves three broad areas; the physical, the mental, and the social. These areas evoke self-improvement that is practiced beyond the dojo.

When I first started Zen Do Kai nine years ago, I set off thinking it would be a great way to get fit. I never thought it would have such an impact on my way of life.

Over the years, the WA Institute of Martial Arts has taught me many skills, and theses aren’t necessarily how to punch or kick. I have learnt many social and behavioural skills useful for a working environment. Honesty, courage, benevolence, respect, truth and honour are just some of the qualities WAIMA teach their students. All of these characteristics are embedded within the Dojo walls, serving as a constant reminder of what the club stands for.

Each and every one of the instructors carries the ethos of the club and are committed in passing on their knowledge to their students.

I never thought I would be in a situation where I had to utilize the skills I have learnt outside the dojo. Unfortunately for me, I have had such an incident. After walking from the bus port to the Perth underground train station, my boyfriend and I were attacked by six individuals for no apparent reason.

My boyfriend suffered a fracture in the right distal phalanx; lacerations across his forearm, hands and elbows and biceps; abrasions and bruising to his right and left hips as well as ribs; soft tissue damage to the left flank of his lower back; abrasions on his shoulder and a large laceration running through the centre; soft tissue damage to the inside and outer edge of his jaw; abrasions and lacerations behind his ear as well as cartilage damage; three hematomas on his head; soft tissue to his temple and finally, abrasions and a decent contusion on the left side of his forehead.

As for me? Well, I walked away with only a few small scratches on my knee. This is largely due to what WAIMA have taught me. If it weren’t for the time spent in the dojo and the instructors’ devotion in helping me learn, then the outcome would have been very different.

Being a martial artist is being an ordinary person that tries harder despite personal fears and doubts, and not just existing but participating in something that is bigger than the individual. It is how you conduct and improve yourself through personal difficulties and challenges that determine your character, and how you choose to conduct yourself is hugely dependant on your instructors.

Your instructors are much like your parents; there to help and influence you on life choices. At WAIMA they never cut anyone short. It will always be “Excellence in Everything We Do”.

Helen Roberts August 15, 2017