It’s only been a few months of training in Kajukenbo martial arts at Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu, but already I feel I’ve found a community that is caring, strong, and supportive. This message is a little lengthy, so please bear with me!
It started out with taking a self-defense series. I wanted to hone my awareness skills and learn some physical techniques to protect myself if harm ever came my way. We didn’t just learn how to kick and punch, grab and gouge. We learned how to listen to our gut instincts by understanding how that feels in our body, as well as techniques on how to de escalating a heated situation.
Before self-defense class would start, I’d look into the blue room where I saw women demonstrating beautiful martial arts forms, performing grab techniques, and ironing out any skills they wanted to work on. At the end of class, they’d stand in a circle, kneel, remove their earned belts, stand and salute one another. I was so enthralled. How cool did this look?! You learn martial arts skills, respect, and are equal to one another in spirit and person regardless of belt level. That’s what it looked like from the outside, anyway.
Curious, I researched what this style was all about and its history is fascinating. It’s an eclectic fighting style invented by a group of men in Hawaii who were black belts in different martial arts. It combines, karate, judo, jujitsu, kenpo, shaolin kung fu, and boxing. This group of men became known as the “Black Belt Society,” and were of various ethnic backgrounds (from what I can find, of Japanese, Chinese, and Filipino descent). Really? A form of martial arts where people of different backgrounds collaborated with each other and combined their individual strengths? How cool is that?!
Before I knew it, I signed up to do the beginner’s cycle; a 5-week introduction to Kajukenbo. From week to week, me and about 10 other women exercised our bodies and minds, flexing muscles we didn’t know we had. Everyone seemed invested in making this a successful and rewarding experience. From punches, kicks, self-defense, and forms, everything about it was addicting. The rush of punching and kicking, and the meditative aspect of circling up before and after training was so much fun. It was the balance of mind and body I think I’ve been looking for.
Why kajukenbo? Well, I’ve practiced yoga over the years, and my life is so much better for it. But yoga has been an independent practice for me; not something where I interacted with others. I’m one who can easily get caught up and lost in my own head. I needed to do something where I took others into consideration. I needed something where I could do a dance with someone who wasn’t my husband. How can I learn to be comfortable with other people? How can I learn to develop trust with someone new? Kajukenbo at Seven Star has been a place where I can do that. It’s a place I can dance and be free of judgement and have the support and encouragement of women who have been doing this for decades and the women with whom I started training with.
I’m still at Seven Star and I want to keep training and making progress. Our school’s lineage – my Kajukenbo lineage – goes back to one of the founding members of Kajukenbo, Adriano Emperado, a man of Filipino descent, which is what I am. I’m proud to call myself a white belt. There isn’t actually a belt to wear, but it’s all the more motivating as I work toward testing for an orange belt. I’m challenging myself in a way that is in alignment with the kind of person I am and the kind of person I can see myself becoming: confident, caring, strong, graceful, proud, and less driven by fear.
I’m so invested in Seven Star that I am volunteering to be a representative on the school’s steering committee, generate quarterly newsletters for students, to make sure the First Aid kit is stocked, and assist with self-defense courses. I want to help my school succeed.
And here’s where we need your help. Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu is a nonprofit organization. Every trainee at every belt level donates their time to keeping the school functioning and running, but we also need to pay rent and keep our supplies stocked and fresh (everything from bathroom supplies to sparring gear). We also want to grow our school and spread our school’s mission to empower women. I just got here, and I want to keep going here and building this community that is important to me for so many reasons.
Please consider a tax-deductible donation to my school.
You can donate through the Seven Star website:
Or write a check out to “Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu” and send to:
Seven Star Women’s Kung Fu
525 21st Avenue
Seattle, WA 98122
If you do not wish to make a donation, I hope I’ve inspired you to take a free class (They offer those every other month!) or even just try the beginner’s cycle! Visit the website and see what will work for you. Seven Star has never turned away someone for the inability to pay. We also offer scholarships. Monthly training dues are on a sliding scale basis when you start training for a belt. If you have a child that needs to be watched, we provide child care if you make arrangements ahead of time. If you are hearing impaired, we provide an ASL interpretation.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Your support means so much.