Martial Arts: A dance of discipline,
strength and respect

I walk into Kinetic Martial Arts at Moonee Market and before I have even had a chance to scope out the place, I’m almost awestruck by the silence. Yet there are half a dozen kids involved in the class.

They stand there focused, calm and quiet. They’re lining up their partners and kicking as hard as they can into the pad. Their kicks are precise and strong. I’ve never seen such discipline from a group of children.

Next, it’s my turn. I’m surrounded by a group of strong and focused men and women – I’m immediately intimidated. However, after warming up with them, my intimidation eases. They are all kind, welcoming and many of them are only new to martial arts. They certainly had me fooled.  Seriously though, just their warm ups looked like something out of a Jackie Chan movie.

Head instructor, Sir James, shouts ‘two lines’ and we all scurry into formation. Anyone seen lagging is ordered to do ten push-ups. Interestingly, no-one falters.  We do what I can only describe as a formation exercise. I turn to my left and I’m immediately shot a look from a lovely classmate next to me telling me that I’ve gone the wrong way. “You have to turn to the right,” she says. Woops, I struggle not to giggle among the seriousness around me.

We then go onto a Dan Jeon breathing exercise.  Designed to manipulate the adrenal glands, we move into a squat position with our arms out stretched. We breathe in for eight seconds as we pull our arms in, and then breathe out for eight seconds as we push them back out. My fitness allows me to do one or two (the legs are burning at this stage) but I look around and the team is pumping them out, their faces focused (albeit red) and intense.

We then run through a range of punching drills. Left jab, right jab, jab cross, jab cross uppercut, jab cross uppercut hook. The heart rate is certainly going now.  Then it’s onto kicking – I was looking forward to this part. I channeled my inner Bruce Lee and kicked as hard, as precise and as high as I could. Sir James tells me he’d ‘pass’ my kick. I’m not sure whether he’s just being nice or I’ve actually found my calling. As we’re being instructed on the next steps, I casually put my hands in my pockets. Sir James immediately shoots me a look before physically removing them. Woops.

Remember that threat of push-ups I mentioned? We move onto the next drill and one class member takes too long to grab a pad. He’s ordered to do ten push-ups. There’s not so much as a look of discontent by the class member. He accepts his mistake and drops to the floor.

We’re onto a different type of kicking drill now and it’s all about testing your balance. It turns out I have the balance of a baby giraffe. Throughout the class, Sir James gives directions, asks questions and comments on progress and every time the response is a loud “Sir!” It startled me at first but by the end of it I was shouting with the best of them.

The class ends with cat rolls and given my fairly new status to the world of Martial Arts, I decide to sit it out. I am in awe at the rest of the group. Three men in the class have already passed this level and are onto the more complicated (and slightly death defying) cat roll.

They stack as many as eight soft pads on top of each other and leap over them. There is absolutely no fear, they fly through the air like gazelles – it is effortless, smooth and quite beautiful to watch.

While I am clearly lacking in the discipline department, I can certainly see what all the fuss is about. The class members are committed and they’re there to become holistically better. “It’s not just about martial arts, it’s about everything. Better physically, mentally & emotionally,” says Sir James.

The discipline throughout the class is not angry or negative – it’s positive. The group is a tight-knit community where they can learn, grow and throw a really good punch.

Kinetic Martial Arts is based at Moonee Market and offers a free first class for all new members.

Visit www.facebook.com/pg/kineticmartialartsmooneebeach or call 0402 916 266 for more information.