What Being a Martial Artist Is Like

Roni Natalia Brianna P. Kessel

I am Roni Kessel, a 2nd dan Taekwondo blackbelter and former member of the Junior
Philippine Taekwondo Team. I am also the batch leader of the Junior Taekwondo Blackbelt
Sorority Batch 9.

The most challenging thing I’ve encountered in martial arts is balancing my student life
with training. Before the pandemic, I’d be at school from 7am to 5pm, then I’d have training from
5:30pm to 8pm. If you take into account the time spent in traffic jams, this leaves very little time
for me to do schoolwork at home. This is why most of the time, I just do my assignments in
school before class starts, or in between classes.

Another thing I’d say I struggle with is online training. I train with my coach and
teammates on Zoom twice a week. I find this hard, because my internet connection is not
always stable, so sometimes I don’t get to hear my coach’s instructions. We also have sparring
online and the lag makes it hard to practice reaction time.

Despite these challenges, martial arts has taught me a lot of valuable things. I’d say
courage and self-confidence are one of the most important things I’ve learned. In competitions,
it’s inevitable that I am matched with opponents that are stronger and more experienced than
me. However, I know better than to get intimidated and not perform well. As long as I’m
confident in the techniques I’ve learned, I know that I can do my best and possibly even beat my
opponent, though they might have the advantage. I apply this not only in competitions, but also
in everyday life and school. When faced with problems such as deadlines, projects, and tests, I
don’t get scared or overwhelmed because I believe in what I know and what I’ve learned in
school. This can also be applied in the context of the pandemic going on currently. This may be
a scary time for most, martial arts has taught me to tough it out and remain calm, even when
given the toughest situations.

Another important thing I’ve learned is discipline. Martial artists are one of the most
disciplined people in the world. With this discipline, I’ve learned to commit to schedules of
school, training, and extra-curricular matters such as clubs and organizations. I also use this
discipline to create a constant routine of exercising everyday. Because of this, I now have a
workout account on Instagram with over four thousand followers, and a YouTube account with

255 subscribers, and I am committed to posting at least once every week.
In summary, being a martial artist has its challenges, but it’s definitely worth it, as it
teaches me a lot of things that can be applied not only in my sport, but in everyday life too.