My Entry into Taekwon-Do - Sravya Bikki
Growing up in various mining towns in India, I have had opportunities in learning to dance, paint, sing and play sports but martial arts was not one of them. Back then not many had the opportunity to learn a martial art. Even if one had, most of the parents worried that their kid would grow up to be a violent person by learning a martial art.
Further, back in those days most of them I knew were unaware and martial arts were perceived masculine and that continues to some extent in 21st century too. A lot of girls would not get the opportunity for the same reason and some parents thought that it would be difficult to get them married. If they were to ask me today, I would confidently convince them otherwise and explain all the benefits that one would get. When I was little, I never knew what Martial arts meant. The most common martial art if someone ever mentioned was Karate. After I finished my high school, I had this sudden interest to learn Karate. This was not inspired by Hollywood movies but by desire to protect myself from bullies that I might meet in College. Unfortunately, I had no opportunity to learn Karate in the small town.
On the other hand, when I mentioned that to my parents, they believed that martial art is meant to be learned at early ages of 6 or 7. They discouraged me for the fear of accidents or bruising my face. They grew up in an educated but conservative household and they had their own concerns. So, my interest went down the drain.
Eventually I moved to a different city to pursue graduation and the interest in learning a martial art never surfaced again. I lived in college hostel which had conservative policies and students are required to report back to the hostel warden by 6pm. The warden would take an attendance to check all the students are back in hostel premises. Despite that, there were opportunities to learn martial art. But the idea of learning a martial art was forgotten in pursuit of education and jobs.
I finished my graduation and then joined a multinational IT giant, TATA Consultancy Services Ltd, as a trainee software engineer. I moved to Trivandrum in the state of Kerala. Kerala state is known for its ancient Indian martial art “Kalarippayattu” and also renowned for its picturesque locations to visit. In one of the job training sessions, our trainer announced that there were going to be Karate Classes thrice a week nearby our office. That was an effort by the company to teach female employees self-defence. That effort was after a huge incident that happened in New Delhi where a female medical student was sexually assaulted brutally and died fighting for life in hospital. There was a worldwide outrage and media coverage. But it raised the importance of learning a martial art and self-defence. Despite that and many such incidents, a lot of parents didn’t, and still don’t, really get excited at the idea of learning Self Defence and Martial art. It could be any of the reasons. I do understand that not everyone gets the opportunity or has an interest. However, I noticed that some of them have interest and opportunity but are not encouraged. My parents found the idea really weird, but I attended a couple of classes anyway. I enjoyed those couple of sessions and wished that I learnt it earlier. After my training ended, I moved to Hyderabad city. I had the opportunity to look for classes and join yet did not utilised it. Looking back, I blame myself equally for not learning a martial art. It would have given me lot of inner strength and courage to handle bullying better. It would have changed my perspective.
Later, I moved to the United States to pursue a Masters in Engineering. While I was in the US, I lived in Houston with my Sister and Brother in Law. I met one of my cousins often in Houston, her son had started learning Taekwondo. That again went straight over my head in the pursuit of Master’s degree. I never went to see him grading. I remember him demonstrating us “Saju Jirugi- Four Directional Punch”. Back then, I thought the movements were interesting but never understood what he was up to. Eventually, I finished my Masters and then married and moved to Australia. No intentions of learning a martial art yet, just lived a married life oblivious to idea of learning a martial art.
In 2018 I visited my sister in the US to see my newborn Niece and then happened to meet my cousin and the nephew who learned taekwondo. He is now a first dan black belt holder who eventually lost interest in the martial art. I encouraged him to continue learning to the fullest potential.