“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey

As I sat there in the parent’s lobby of the National Karate Academy of Martial Arts in Rochester Minnesota, watching my oldest take her karate lesson, something about the sport sparked a fire within me. I didn’t recognize what tingled within me until two years later when my youngest daughter decided to join karate. I was at the studio five days a week between the two kids. The thought of me joining karate crossed my mind one day as I sat in the lobby watching my younger one. I am here all the time; it looks like I could get a good workout, should I join as well? And after MUCH debate, I decided to join.

The debate was mostly against cultural expectations. A working mom with many responsibilities, I wondered, how will I manage my time? This will cut into my family time; am I putting myself before my kids? Will I be physically able to do this in my 30’s?

As a female with a South Asian background, with many cultural taboos, I have always challenged the status quo, why not this? I don’t happen to know many Pakistani women in their 30s who do karate. With all these doubts in my head and with my husband’s encouragement, I decided to join.

My first Karate class is unforgettable. I felt like a little kid going to school for the first time, not knowing what to expect and unsure of myself. Will I make a fool out of myself? This is silly; why am I doing this? Should I do this? I was so shy, too shy to stretch, and too shy to yell.

My second week in class, I recognized what that tingle was. I was meant to do this. Karate excited my soul. What I didn’t realize is how it was changing me mentally. I was becoming more resilient and was learning how to handle challenges at work and in life in general. I was getting stronger, not just physically but also mentally. Karate slowly became my life, and I have never regretted (not for a single moment) choosing to step out of the cultural expectations-box and challenge the status quo.

I have always been athletic. I have completed several half marathons, multiple 10ks, 5ks, and obstacle races. About three ago, I started weightlifting as accessory work for martial arts, fine-tuned my nutrition, and started CrossFit about a year ago. These various modalities of sports have strengthened my body for karate. In 2019, I competed in my first CrossFit competition and Olympic weightlifting. I can say with confidence that at 41 years of age, six years into my karate journey, the past three years have been my strongest karate years. I have competed in various karate tournaments. I have placed World top ten 2018 in sparring and traditional weapons in the NASKA circuit. At the Diamond Nationals 2019 tournament, I competed in as many divisions as I could. I felt strong, and all the cross-training paid off. Now I am focused on working towards my third-degree black belt.

Someone once asked me at the gym; “I see you working so hard, what are you training for?” I paused for a second and replied, I am always training for karate, and there is no end to it. My ultimate goal is to be the oldest & strongest woman doing karate. Training with National Karate has been life changing for me and my family.

Nadia Wood
2nd Degree Black Belt
National Karate Academy of Martial Arts