How Martial Arts Transformed Me

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It’s been a few months since my last post. But, for a great reason. On November 3, I tested for 5th Dan Master Black Belt in KiMudo. I’ve been martial arts for over 22 years so this test was a big deal! I needed lots of practice, dedicated focus and a crazy amount of energy to accomplish this goal.

KiMudo is a martial art comprised of Tae Kwon Do, Judo, Hapki-Do, self-defense techniques and various weapons. We lovingly call it the “traditional mixed martial arts.” For my test, it was required I write a resume of my accomplishments. Instead a boring resume, I wrote about how martial arts transformed my life. I wanted to share this with you and hopefully it will inspire you to transform your life too.



Jodi Heisz 5th Dan Resume

For my 5th Dan resume, I could give you a long list of accomplishments, rewards, and certificates earned during my martial arts career. I could tell you about how I achieved all my black belts in KiMudo, my black belt in judo, winning big, shiny trophies at tournament, being a judge, sitting on the testing board for both color and black belt tests, and more.

Yes, all are great accomplishments I’m proud of.

But you know what? At the end of the day, none of these matters.

There’s quote on Facebook I have liked and shared by Kaci Diane describing my biggest accomplishment in martial arts.

“I love the person I have become, because I fought to become her.”

To me, that’s what matters most.

The transformation I’ve experienced throughout my 22 years of martial arts means more than any trophy I’ve won or any belt I’ve earned. Becoming the best version of myself to lead a more positive and peaceful life with compassion for others including myself, is the center of my martial arts career. It’s what keeps me coming back to Dojang day after day, week after week, year after year.

Today, I am sharing with you three personal achievements that changed my life most.

  1. Self-confidence and belief
  2. Cultivating friendships through martial arts
  3. Becoming a leader to inspire others

Self-confidence and Belief
Master Bob Perk reminds me most students who come to martial arts are broken and searching for a better way, a better life. I know this is true because when I started martial arts in 1995, I was very broken. Probably…  the most broken of all.

Students and black belts today see Jodi filled with strength, confidence and smiling all the time. They don’t know the depths of darkness I originally came from. Back then, I was a much different person than I am today. Most don’t know the dark places I came from, and the deep trenches I climbed out of to see the light. I was desperate searching for a better way, a better life. To be whole. Healed. And feel worthy.

My confidence on a scale of 1-10 was off the charts on the low end. Scared to spar, feared falling, afraid to speak or teach in front of a crowd, petrified of throwing or being thrown, etc. I remember Master Perk telling me repeatedly, “Be more aggressive!” I wasn’t aggressive because I didn’t believe I had the chops to be successful, to rock it and be great both in and outside the Dojang. I thought I didn’t deserve it because I felt unworthy.

Slowly over the years, kick by kick, punch by punch, throw by throw, my confidence grew stronger, more powerful. The light always existing inside, but dim, was starting to shine bright. It was beginning to shine, because I believed I could shine. Instead of knowing I could be successful, I believed I was successful.

And now, I am unstoppable, determined, strong, capable, powerful, amazing, fearless, rocking it and … more aggressive. I am whole. Healed. And believe I am worthy.

Cultivating friendships through martial arts
One of my biggest achievements held dear in my heart are the friendships I’ve been blessed with through martial arts. I am honored to have met so many wonderful people from all walks of life, backgrounds, and ages.

But the friends I cherish the most, are my instructors Bob and Audrey Perk and my gals.

Masters Bob and Audrey Perk have been my rock and my foundation through many life’s challenges. They’ve supported and guided me through the good times and the bad. Without their encouragement and belief in me as a person, I wouldn’t be the woman I am standing here today. They taught more than martial arts. They taught me the value of family, friendships and how teamwork really does make your dream work. My hope is for me pay it forward and help someone else one day like they have helped me.

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Then, there’s my gals. We call ourselves, Audrey’s Angels. We’re kinda like martial arts gangsters… so we are.  A true sisterhood running deep, maybe deeper than blood related sisters. Life is better lived with true friends to share it with. Especially when you can kick each other in the head or throw one another on the ground. I don’t know many friends who would stand for that kind of treatment. But we do. Because we love martial arts. And because we love each other.

From that infamous night we’ll never forget, making Pauline walk 42 miles in Woodman’s to get my favorite blue chips,  bonding with my judo buddies during those ridiculous attempts to get “that throw” right, and to all who hugged me during my darkest moments. No words can describe how grateful I am to have their friendship.

Just like form Ka Chi says, “Go Together: Sharing the Journey of Life”.  To the share the journey of life with my martial arts family through the laughs, the cries and everything else in between, is my best award. Supporting and encouraging each other to be strong, powerful, connected, and awesome is a gift of a lifetime.

And I love them all for that.

Becoming a leader to inspire others
Anyone can learn to be a leader. But not anyone can attain a certain level of inspiration and compassion if they haven’t walked the steps themselves from darkness to light. Being an inspiring leader requires a glowing confidence with humility, integrity, joyfulness and little tough love.

After years of working towards building my confidence and restructuring my life, I’ve become a strong leader for my students. Taking what I’ve learned and the transformation occurred within has granted me with a different set of skills in teaching and guiding others. Nothing feels greater than passing down your knowledge to help your students change their lives for the better. The ability to empathize with those who are struggling because you once struggled, makes the difficult times of the past worth it.

20181127_185655[3285]One of my favorite teaching moments is when I won Black Belt Champion twice competing in the spring and fall tournaments. Last summer I set a goal to win that trophy. There were setbacks and challenges. But I never gave up on my goal. I visualized it every day, trained hard and consistently, and had friends to hold me accountable. With the power of goal setting and perseverance, I achieved my goal.

But it the end, winning black belt champion wasn’t about me. It was about teaching my students dreams can come true if you believe and do what it takes to make it happen. Being a leader who’s walked the path and inspires others become the best versions of themselves, is my dream come true.

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6 thoughts on “How Martial Arts Transformed Me

  1. As you marital arts has changed me I look at you as something to strive for. At a time I found you intimidating making me think you’re so amazing I’ll never ketch up and even now a little part of me thinks that but I try to beat down that voice, that voice is not worth my time. But I’m super proud of you my sister!!

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  2. Jodi……thank you for sharing your life lessons. You’re truly God’s messenger to inspire those of us who have lived in darkness. To take those often insurmountable steps towards ‘the light ‘. The light being a metaphor for confidence, faith, acceptance of your truth and being grateful. Congrats Jodi !! You’re inspiring 🤗👍🏻😇Karen

    Sent from my iPhone

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