People never fully master a martial art – but that’s exactly what keeps people attracted to it, said Nikka Gaviola, a tae kwon do instructor in Edmonds.
In martial arts, there is always a technique to improve toward becoming proficient.
“It is a constant challenge,” Gaviola said.
There’s an amazing satisfaction that follows when everything comes together and you nail a perfect kick, she said. “You keep pushing to have that feeling again,” she said.
Martial arts blend a physical workout with a mental workout that challenges students to focus and keep calm inside and outside the dojo, local instructors say.
“It fosters vitality in people,” said Randy Thompson, a ki-aikido instructor in Mountlake Terrace and Bothell.
Here’s a look at two forms of martial arts taught locally.
Tae kwon do
Tae kwon do covers the entire spectrum, including flexibility and strength, Gaviola said. It pushes people to build stamina and endurance and work every muscle in your body. There also is a meditative component requiring athletes to concentrate on their techniques, like ensuring your feet are in the right place.
Gaviola is a second-degree black belt. She started taking classes in the 1970s before teaching her own classes in the 1980s. She teaches at her parent’s school – Bailey’s Traditional Taekwon Do College – and at the Frances Anderson Center in Edmonds.
“It’s a very individualized sport but you get so much inspiration from the people next to you,” she said.
Key tenants of the discipline, such as perseverance and self-control, can be applied to all aspects of one’s life.
“When you get involved, it’s not just your sport, it’s your way of life,” she said.
Ki-aikido teaches people to become more in tune with their body and recognize signals that an illness or injury is coming on, Thompson said.
Thompson has been teaching ki-aikido, a modern form of Japanese martial arts, at the Recreation Pavilion in Mountlake Terrace since 2011. He started instructing in 2008 and currently teaches at Northwest Martial Arts in Bothell. He began studying in 2003 and holds a second-degree black belt. Thompson discovered ki-aikido in Colorado the summer after college. “I connected with it,” he said.
Ki-aikido is more accessible to different ability levels than other disciplines and it doesn’t involve striking an opponent. The discipline is great for building coordination and balance while simultaneously improving mental clarity and focus, he said.
“You become calm, coordinated and balanced,” he said.
As students progress, they eventually face their personality and their complexes. Knowing a logical sequence of movements is no longer enough; attitude and mental balance play a role too.
“To progress you have to face yourself,” he said. “People want to improve themselves.”