How Martial Arts Equipped Me For Success

How Martial Arts Equipped Me For Success

    I rarely get asked, "how did you get into Martial Arts?" Why?  Because most people that see me perform don't question that I belong here.  That may sound like an odd statement but not really.  By most standards, this isn't the most likely place that I would fit in.  I was born with no vision in my right eye and limited vision in my left.  I am not able to drive and use magnifying aids to read so why Martial Arts?  

     All of us, no matter how popular you may be, have experienced; insecurity, self doubt, low self esteem or bullying at one time or another.  On a regular day these issues are difficult to overcome, now add a disability to the normal everyday pressures of growing up.  Being different is the last thing that most kids want and I was no different.  I'm thankful that I grew up in a time when society was not afraid to allow kids to fail.  Guided failure is what allows you to gain perseverance which allows you to see beyond obstacles.  My mother taught me that there was nothing I couldn't do if I worked hard enough at it.  Our teachers and coaches also expressed the same sentiment, therefore, rather than just trying things out, you worked on becoming good at something.  I didn't like kids making fun of me in school so I chose to meet them in their own arena, sports.  All of the sports I would have liked to have done; softball, volleyball, basketball, I wasn't able to do because of my lack of vision.  My best friend suggested I try out for track & field with her, one problem, I hated running but my options were limited so I did it.  This was my opportunity to silence my haters and gain their respect so I took it.  I ran all four years of High School and the first two years of college.  I made varsity, I lettered and still felt poorly about myself.  

    As a child, kids would stare at me all the time and ask, "what's wrong with your eye?"  Over time, you begin to feel like everyone is staring at you.  I made every effort externally to "be" like everyone else so no one would notice that I was different but nothing changed internally.  I would avoid looking at people, especially children just so they wouldn't ask the question.  I worked very hard to make myself "appear" confident to others but inside it was always a struggle.

     At 24 years old, I took my first step into a Martial Arts School with my husband to get information for him.  He was sold immediately and wanted me to join with him.  This seemed like the worse idea ever but because I was so competitive and bent on not fitting the blind stereotype, I did it.  My Instructor was a huge, scary Vietnam Veteran MP with the most kind, soft personality.  Master McGhee never watered anything down for me, he simply showed me different ways to accomplish the same goal.  It's important to be able to trust your Instructor with your safety, however, for me, this held a completely different meaning.  As I progressed, I noticed my attitude and mindset changing.  I didn't avoid talking to people anymore.  I intentionally looked people in the eye when I spoke with them.  The frequency of people asking me about my eyes was less and if someone did, it didn't bother me to tell them.  I had changed.  The confidence I now had was real.  I trained, I broke boards, I sparred, I competed and I won.  I loved it!  The organization I was with had a ring for those with disabilities to compete, it never even crossed my mind that this was an option.  I now found that people didn't even notice that I had a disability because of how I carried myself.  

     I have been a Martial Artist since 1993.  My life was transformed through Martial Arts. My husband and I trained our three children who are Martial Artist.  They have grown up to be strong, confident, successful individuals.  We've taught countless numbers of children, teens and adults all with the same results.  It doesn't matter how, why or when you get started, as an athlete, I didn't join because I thought I had low self esteem.  I joined because what they were doing looked cool and challenging and I wanted to become a better athlete.  Along the way, I gained self esteem and confidence that I didn't even know I needed.  I'd like to say that I know definitively what it is about Martial Arts that equips individuals for success but I don't.  I just know that the components of Martial Arts; strength, power, mental/spiritual development, respect for life and others causes one to strive to become better.  You can train the body but there is no real change until you have addressed the mind and heart.  I have found that there is no greater joy than assisting another human being is discovering their true value, gifts and ppurpose.  Martial Arts changed my life and equipped me for success.  It is with great pleasure that I carry on what my Instructor instilled in me and pass it down to as many as I am able to reach.



Stephanie Seidel


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