My Story: 1 Year of Martial Arts

I can still remember the day like it was yesterday, when I went for my first trial class at the gym near my neighbourhood. It was a regular Tuesday and the trainer was Fatima, she taught me the basics from Jab and Cross, to doing some combos. Prior to that, I was in one of my lowest periods and needed a way of release. After that night, I walked home with a smile and true enough, exercise did elevate my dopamine levels.

Being in the MMA gym, 3 times a week and getting regular exercise made a profound impact on my mental and physical coordination. Before that, I was mainly stationary at my computer and would drive out occasionally, but my awareness and eye coordination on the road wasn’t good. I could drive and have a tunnel-like vision without noticing what’s left or right. I think people who stare on their computers for too long might experience this.

This was one of my concerns before becoming a Mixed Martial artist, but I’m grateful to say, that I no longer have this problem with my coordination. Instead, I’m being commended more for my reflexes – being more swift and agile. This happens because over time, brain neurons grow and build new paths to strengthen your coordination. Not only does your mind-body coordination improve, but awareness and learning capabilities are build. I definitely experience these two elements every time after I finish a workout, when clarity in my brain was just amplified.

Before I started, I was terrible at my balance, stamina, flexibility and putting combos together. But I kept pushing, not giving up even though how insane it was. After each hard workout, your body will feel pains in every area but that feeling is good. Because you feel confident that you are building a new version of you. That the body you just killed yesterday, is becoming a new body today. That’s the gift of martial arts and exercise.

Why did I choose Martial Arts over CrossFit, Weightlifting, Running or regular gyms? I believe martial arts has practical benefits for overall well-being

  • Master a Skill – Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu etc.
  • Self-defence
  • Full-body workout (without equipment)
  • Mental and Psychological strength
  • Positive & Discipline Attitude

Well, in all forms of exercise… you can sculpt that body 😉

My friend took this slo-mo video of me.

Each time, you go to the gym on time to learn, practice, go back home and wash your wraps… doing this over and over… I realise even this small routine defines who we are. It ingrained an image of yourself as discipline towards the things you do. I always think of good food to consume after my workout and ways I can care for my body.

Sometimes, people quit because their minds tell them that their body isn’t capable of doing Martial Arts… well let me tell you, the body is also made to be a weapon that can be greater than the mind can ever know. You just got to believe that, and not let emotions or excuses pull you away from the person you can be. Blow your mind with your body.

Last year, I had a medical check up that said I was anaemic (low in blood). It affected my practice during gym as I kept losing my breath and did not have enough energy. I kept thinking, “Am I gonna be better?” and “Should I stop because how am I suppose to be good at this (being anaemic)?”. Each time we did a short meditation during the cool down, where we lift our legs against the wall, I can feel the rush of blood to my body while my legs started to get numb. This was what I felt during the first 6 months.

After that, things started to get better for me. I never felt that I was losing my breath and my legs never felt that numb during meditation. I knew, my blood levels are better and I’m becoming well! This was surely a gift that learning martial arts has given me, better health.

I encourage everyone – young, old, overweight, underweight, and even if you have any small health condition… to consider taking up martial arts. But you need to put a commitment for at least 6 months if you want to improve your well-being. Don’t wait until something serious happens to you, to only trigger you to take your health seriously. Also don’t let any fear stop you.

Instead, be the one that’s fearless.

Thanks for reading,

Tracey Wong

Digital Product Designer based in Kuala Lumpur.

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