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When you tell people you’re a black belt there are some pretty standard response you get: how long have you been doing it? What kind of martial arts do you do? Show me a cool move! More often than not, the replies I get are really supportive.

Yet somehow, when you tell people you’re a black belt and a mom of little ones, the responses change a bit: Oh wow, how do you do that? I could never do that. Where do you find the time? Does your husband let you do that? It changes the conversation to become about how I manage martial arts with motherhood.

Okay side story, once someone did ask me, “Does your husband let you do karate?” Seriously? I’m a first-degree black belt. What’s he going to do? Fight me on that? Not a chance. I very rudely replied with something along the lines of, “Yes, I’m allowed to do karate as long as I’ve finished my chores and I’m home before curfew.” It was not my most charitable moment…

…Also he’s a really supportive husband. So yes, my husband “let’s me do karate.” *cue giant eye roll*
Back to the point, managing martial arts and motherhood is something you have to balance and fight for because both are challenging in their own right; however, both are importantly rewarding. I would also argue that being in martial arts has made me a better mother. Here are four reasons why I think it’s important to be a martial artist (especially if you’re a mom).

Martial Arts Are Good for You
Physical activity is important for everyone regardless of where you are at in life. In fact, I have a whole other article about the importance of fitness and some tips for how to work fitness into your daily life. Martial arts is a full body workout that teaches strength, balance, and flexibility which are all things we need as moms.
Additionally, what I think makes martial arts so valuable is the practical importance of self-defense. Let’s be real, ladies, self-defense is something we all should take some time to learn if nothing else for our own peace of mind. I pray no one is ever attacked but having a few moves in your skill set to help you out in a dangerous situation can be a life saver.

You Will Love Doing Martial Arts

This one is personal but also worth underscoring that I love doing karate. I think that should be enough of a reason for any mother to justify any activity that is good for her. Do things that you love with intention. I really do believe that anyone who hasn’t figured out the right workout regimen for them should consider a martial art because it is focused. The instructors also love what they do and teach with a passion that is contagious. It is not like those classes at the gym where you can come and go as you feel like it. If you want to advance you have to show up to class and I love that because it helps keep me accountable. Having passion for something makes your life more joyful and when you find something you have passion for it is easier to show up on the hard days. I did karate through my second pregnancy up to 35 weeks and there were definitely days I did not feel like coming to class. I was exhausted, a little nauseous, and can we add exhausted again? Because seriously pregnancy is exhausting. I kept showing up to class though because I love what I do: even on the days when I’m swollen and pregnant.

It Is Good to Have Goals Outside of Your Children

In the throes of motherhood, it can be easy to lose sight of who you were before you were a mom. Before any of us were mothers we were women with goals, dreams, and ambitions. Don’t lose sight of that once children are in the picture. Remember that awesome woman you were before you had kids? Don’t forget her. You’re going to need her to get through this motherhood thing.

Here is some backstory: Before I had kids, I wanted to become a talented martial artist who climbed the ranks and competed at tournaments, but I kept putting it off. I got my first-degree black belt right before college and I told myself I’d come back after college. And then after I got married, and then again after we settled down. But life happens fast and before I realized it, eleven years had gone by and I was no closer to achieving my goals than when I was 18. And now I am a mom. Does that mean it’s too late?

Absolutely not. My oldest was 2 years old when I went back to finish what I had started. I am currently training for my second degree black belt, I have competed in multiple tournaments (I have yet to win one, but I’m working on that) and I keep fighting for my goals because it makes me feel good about who I am; I really do believe that it makes me a better mom as well. To all the moms reading this: fight for whatever dream it is you have that lights you up. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids because they are watching you. Which leads me to my final point…

It Is Important to Set an Example for Your Children
I would be the world’s biggest hypocrite if I told my kids to dream big and work hard if I in turn did not do the same. I know that having kids is a game changer and I know how spent parents are at the end of the day, but working on yourself is a long-term investment and not just for you. Your ROI shows up in what your kids learn about hard work and the value of discipline. This is true for all parents who are perhaps finishing a degree, working a second job, training for a marathon, or switching careers. Stay in the fight and do the hard work. It’s good for your kids see you working hard. If we don’t show our children what hard work looks like they won’t learn how to work hard.

Additionally (and perhaps especially) since I have girls, I don’t want them to think of motherhood as something that is crippling. I don’t want them to believe things like, “Once you’re a mom there go all of the hopes and dreams you had because now you’re a mom. Your life is all about them now. Your life is on hold for the next 18 years.” I know people joke about that, and yes, my girls are my world, but it’s not the message I want my girls to learn.

Being their mother is one of my greatest joys and my life has not been crippled because of them. I want them to know that their mom was able to get her black belt, climb the ranks, compete in tournaments, and she had kids–maybe even because she had kids. Motherhood has made me a stronger fighter than I was before I had them to fight for; being a mom makes you strong.

So, to all the moms out there with big dreams–go for it! Do the hard work. Get your black belt, apply for the job, get your MBA, learn another language, train for that marathon, and be an example to your kids.

Nicole Tursich
2nd Degree Black Belt
National Karate Academy of Martial Arts

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