All Summer One Sport: Tao of Peace
When I first researched Tao of Peace I had no idea what the sport was. Luckily, I had previously tried Karate, Judo and Aikido so I had a BASIC understanding of martial arts (or at least when to bow). The more I looked into the Tao of Peace, the more I realised the studio is not a place solely dedicated to physical fitness. The studio is a space where anyone can come if they wish to better themselves.
This dedication to a holistic workout is felt as soon as you walk in the door. There is a bulletin board to your left displaying the different events happening in the community. It is clear to see that the Tao of Peace and its instructors place a high level of importance on self-improvement. When you head downstairs, there is a large sitting area with couches and books for members to use when they are at the studio. It felt like less of a gym and more of a central pillar in the community.
This sense of family and love is felt in the classes, as they are taught in a non-competitive manner. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying martial arts for the first time, or you’re a sixth-degree black belt; everyone is welcome. This does not mean that the classes are taught in a non-serious environment, just one that accepts mistakes that students make.
I was very nervous when I entered the room that we would start learning the different techniques. I have the memory of a goldfish, mixed in with horrific coordination (this trial would be interesting to say the least). Instructor Chris Leigh-Smith told me not to worry and to follow his lead. Hesitantly I began, the next 10 minutes were touch and go to say the least. I have to give it to him, I would have walked out if I was trying to train such an incompetent student. Sensing my impending meltdown, he switched gears to explaining why each move was executed in a certain way. This is where Chris’s background in physical education helped as he explained each muscle that I was using in each technique.
Now with a basic understanding of what muscles I was going to use, I transitioned away from the mirror and onto a bob. A bob is a silicon mold of a person that you can try moves out on, without any of the guilt of repeatedly hitting someone. The first few kicks didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked, I needed to be more aggressive. With this in mind, the next kick was out of the world. That bob didn’t know what hit it!
One of the biggest takeaways from this trial was the importance of spiritual/mental fitness. While many different studios emphasize how their program enable students to think in a more peaceful way, few go as far as Tao of Peace. In each of the classes they teach there is a philosophy component. I was able to experience this first-hand at the end of the trial when we joined the main adult class. Instructor Chris led the class in a discussion about what is above and below the line in life.
This felt like less about having the correct answer and more about why an answer was chosen. I am normally pretty hesitant to voice my opinion with a group of strangers, but everyone there felt like family. You’re probably wondering when I’m going to hit you with a sign up now button, but don’t worry that’s not coming until later.
If you’re wondering how much it costs, don’t worry. The Tao of Peace realises the importance of maintaining a physically active life, and ensures that the whole family can participate. Which is why there are several payment options for would be participants.
The Tao of Peace feels less like a traditional gym, and more like a space where members can better themselves. This trial opened my eyes to exactly why people enroll in martial arts. Sure, you learn how to win in a fight, but you also learn how to control yourself. Walking out of the studio I might have been physically drained, but my soul has never been fuller.
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