The Right Fit

March 2016

I was just shy of eighteen when I began my trial month at University Karate Center. I kept putting off showing up for my first day. I struggled with anxiety and the thought of going to a class full of strangers and trying something new terrified me. After a week of promising myself I would go I put on my gi for the first time, tied back my hair, and made the drive. The weeks that followed during my trial period led to some of the best experiences I have ever had, and they shaped who I am today.

From day one everyone from staff to students created a welcoming atmosphere. There was no judgment about anything. Rank and experience was never a problem. Everyone had started as a beginner at some point. They knew what it was like to be a novice, and they were happy to give you pointers to make you a better martial artist. The lessons in martial arts were just the start however. 

I met some of my best friends at UKC, people I still talk to nearly ten years later. I learned important things about myself, and about the world. I learned about right and wrong, morals and values, how to handle stress, and how to better myself. I learned to better the world for others. My anxiety subsided greatly while I was training, and my time since then. UKC helped shape me in ways I could never explain, and it is something I am thankful for every day.

March Newsletter Sensei Hannah Misciasci

In the years since I left Florida I of course wanted to continue my training. My experiences with other Dojos proved to me how truly lucky I was to train under Shihan Mason and the rest of the instructors. I have checked out multiple Dojos in two different states and nothing has come close to what UKC has to offer.

Some schools,

after hearing I was a Black Belt, asked me to start teaching classes the next day. They had no knowledge of my skills or who I was as a person, or even what style I had trained in. Yet that was apparently all they required of their instructors.

I've encountered Dojos that taught “Men's Karate” and “Women's Self Defense”. Women were not allowed in the regular karate classes, no matter if they had previous training or not. One class I attended was a normal mixed rank class. The lead instructor of the Dojo seemed knowledgeable. His form was excellent and his attitude seemed good. Yet over the course of an hour he never once corrected one of his students. Students threw kicks and punches with poor form that would clearly lead to damaged joints, yet he never once showed them another way to do it.

March Newsletter Sensei Hannah Misciasci2

I have long known I have a condition with my ligaments. I dislocate bones very easily. While training at UKC every Sensei was willing to work with me so I did not further damage myself.

Some kicks were difficult for me due to my joints, so Shihan Mason worked with me to find a variation that would be effective without hurting my hips. This was the level of care that I had grown to love at UKC.

Yet so many schools do not care. MMA Dojos are very popular where I live. Regardless of your medical problems they require you to do cage fights. They will not let you move through the belt system unless you participate, and win, a predetermined number of these fights. How is this fair to those with medical conditions, weak bodies, or those who simply don't want to fight in those brutal, full contact competitions?

So many people have no idea how different one Dojo is as opposed to another. After spending four years searching for a new Dojo I understand just how important it is to find the right Dojo. As much as I would love to continue my training formally it is not worth it for me to compromise my beliefs or my health. I have spent this time training by myself, or with select friends who have trained in martial arts who are encountering the same problems. I truly have found how important it is to have a Dojo that is the right fit.

Sensei Hannah Misciasci © 2016