I AM JMAC: Catharina
Everyone who starts martial arts training comes to it for different reasons. Sometimes it’s for health reasons – the need for more exercise and physical activity. For some folks, they start training for personal development to improve their self-confidence. For others, it’s a challenge they feel they have to rise to.
This month I Am JMAC profiles Catharina, who started training in October 2018 and has made huge strides in her martial arts training. Training in Iaido, Karate, and Judo, she encourages everyone who has ever thought about trying martial arts to take the plunge.
“It's so worth it! It might seem a little scary at the beginning and it’s okay to be unsure, but starting a martial art is one of the best decisions I ever made.” She says, “Martial arts training develops more than just the physical; the character development and discipline that develops, as a result, carries over into all other aspects of your life and makes an insurmountable difference with how you interact with the world around you.”
Training at Japanese Martial Arts Center gives you a sense of community. It’s a team effort allowing everyone on the mats to learn from each other. Being able to learn from everyone in the room is a major highlight for Catharina, “There's just such a supportive and motivational vibe and there isn't a single person I don't like. Who you train with really makes or breaks your experience and at JMAC, it makes it.”
Do you have a favorite martial art style?
I love all the styles I train in, though they are very different and I like them for different reasons. Iaido is very difficult for me to understand, I have a hard time making the sword do what I want it to. But that's also what I like about it; the mental aspect of it, the attention to very fine detail that makes all the difference in sword work. It's like putting together one of those 5,000-piece puzzles, everything has to be exactly right and line up just-so and it's very hard to put together but once it is, it's beautiful.”
“My favorite thing about judo is the sound people's bodies make when they smash into the ground after I throw them. I also love judo because it's so different from everything else I do. It's an entirely different way of movement and motion from what I've ever done and it's exhilarating.”
“I love karate because it feels like home. I'm friends with everyone and they all feel like family to me. The stances and movements are ones I've practiced hundreds of times, even though I always mess up the exact same things, which is extremely frustrating. No matter how I feel coming into the dojo, after karate I am always at peace.”
What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome in your martial arts training?
“My biggest challenge is the fear that I'm not going to understand something, that no matter how many times it's explained to me, it just won't click, that I'll never understand and be permanently stuck at my current level of knowledge. I'm working to overcome this, I keep telling myself that if I have to hear something 5000 times to understand it, then that's what it'll take.”
How has martial arts training carried over into your personal or professional life?
“I have greater understanding of professional dynamics. I am much more aware of power structures and respect allocation. I also understand when to defer to someone else in order to preserve workplace harmony. In my personal life, I have learned when to pick my battles and have far greater control over my emotions and actions. The discipline that martial arts instills carries over and has allowed me to gain self-control and self-mastery at a level I never had previously.”
Outside of the dojo Catharina is an avid outdoorsman. Ever since she was young helping her dad in the orchard, she’s loved outdoor activities like sledding, canoeing, or biking. On top of loving the many adventures of the outdoors, Catharina has a deep interest in Norse mythology and Germanic linguistics.
Are there any other martial arts styles you want to pursue?
“Yes, eventually I want to pursue Jujitsu but right now three is a little overwhelming and before I start a fourth, I want to carve out enough time in my schedule to go to all the classes of the martial arts I already train in.”
Everyone gets something different from martial arts training. Everyone has a different reason for training in one style or multiple styles, but the important thing is that in the dojo everyone is learning. Even if you’re brand new to training, you have something unique to offer the JMAC family. Catharina is a very curious person eager to learn but she’s also deeply passionate and she brings that passion to every class.