5 Things I’m Thankful For

Conquering NaNoWriMo
NaNoWriMo 2014

Conquering NaNoWriMo–Because writing 50,000 words in one month is tough and rewarding. Now it’s time to delve into structuring and outlining my novel, and I’m actually excited about that, which is quite surprising.

Krav Maga–Because it’s the best martial art in the world (although I am a bit biased). I’m thankful that I’ve been learning Krav Maga for two years now and still haven’t had any major injuries. (But there’s definitely been plenty of scrapes and bruises along the way.)

Blots & Plots Blog–Because Jenny inspires me and reminds me that writing can be a ton of fun.

Senior Year of High School–Because it’s exciting to know that graduation is near. It’s like breaking into a sprint when I see the finish line in sight, trying to pack in the extra credits and finishing with a personal best (or something like that).

“Show Jesus” by Jamie Grace–Because it’s fun and happy and makes me want to smile. And smiling is good.

What are you thankful for?

It’s My Brother’s Fault

Mud. The very word brings back memories of obstacle races, causing a smile to spread across my face. I love obstacle races–a fact that many people find surprising and weird. What’s not to love about crawling through gritty, smelly mud, rolling through shock wires, or swimming through icy water? Okay, so maybe I am crazy, but I’m not the only one to blame. When I investigated the cause behind this fascination of mine, I discovered an underlying culprit–my brother.

Wow…I look rough.

I’ve always had a streak of tomboy in me, which was mostly cultivated by my older brother Grant. Once I was old enough to tag along, I delighted in following Grant and his friends as they played army in the woods surrounding our childhood home in Florida. I wore Grant’s outgrown camouflage shirts, carried a toy shotgun, and got sap stuck in my stringy white hair as I trudged through the woods to various bunkers. By the time I was six, I had already lost a baby tooth in a playful brother-sister wrestling match. (Grant is still apologetic about that incident.) Over the years, my tomboy streak gradually diminished, that is, until this past year when it came back in full force. Once again, it was my brother’s fault. After introducing me to Krav Maga self defense, he soon had me running 5K’s with him, and–yes, you guessed it–encouraged me to participate in my first obstacle race last June. I’ve been an enthusiast ever since.


From army games and wrestling matches to Krav Maga and obstacle races, Grant is the one to blame. However, I prefer the term thank. In fact, I think he deserves an applause..


To my dear adventurous brother: May your days be filled with mud! :)

An Anniversary


Today is the one year anniversary of my first Krav Maga class. Little did I know one year ago that Krav Maga was going to become one of my favorite activities, propelling me into an active lifestyle of running obstacle races and 5Ks. As I shared in my “Blood, Sweat & Burpees” post, learning Krav Maga has been a fun and challenging experience for me this year. Today I was reminded of a story I wrote a few months back about my first class. After some revising (it’s always easier to improve a story after it’s sat for a while), here is the account of my first class:

My First Krav Maga Class

My brother had been pestering me for months, telling me that I needed to come to a Krav Maga self-defense class with him sometime. I had secretly been wanting to attend a class, but was too shy to admit it, so when my dad joined him in encouraging me to go, I figured it was safe to admit it–I’d go to one class, and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have to go back.

With mixed feelings of excitement and apprehension, I arrived at the class. It began with a work-out portion that was full of surprises. I was instructed to run with my hands in front of my face to “protect myself” and had to punch an imaginary attacker during sit-ups. I also learned what walking lunges were, and I did my very first Burpees.

Once the exercise portion was over, the instructor taught us how to escape from a front choke. We were told to find a partner and practice the technique. I chose the only other girl in the group, who was a fellow homeschooler that I knew. I felt horrible choking her. When it was her turn to choke me, I gently plucked her hands off my neck and gingerly threw a front groin kick, but I forgot to bring my hands up to protect my head. Suddenly, the instructor choked me from behind. I let out a startled gasp. “You’ve got to keep your hands up,” he told me. I nodded, my eyes bulging.

The class continued with more choke defenses. Although I felt terribly out of place, I had enjoyed it a bit. After the class ended, my brother came up to me and said, “Well, Joy, now you have two hobbies–piano and Krav Maga.” I shook my head and replied, “I’m not sure they go together.” He insisted they did. I guess he was right.

Blood, Sweat & Burpees

Krav Maga

Burpee 2

Been there, done that, and yes, I’ve even bought the T-shirt.  As a Krav Maga student and proud owner of a “Blood, Sweat & Burpees” T-shirt, I will hereby testify that although Krav Maga classes don’t always demand blood, they are never without sweat and most definitely require plenty of burpees. It’s hard-core self-defense; and I love it.


For me, Krav Maga is fun, challenging, and intense. I love the thrill of fighting though a mob of “attackers” in class and the excitement of strapping on my head gear before sparring. One of the features of Krav Maga that I love the most is its practicality and focus on real-life scenarios. I learn simple and effective techniques that I could use anywhere and anytime to defend myself and others.

I also love how Krav Maga focuses on teamwork as we split into groups and perform the techniques together. Even though I am now in level two Krav Maga, I still enjoy attending the level one classes. There is no hierarchy. We are all a team, or as our instructor likes to say, “a family.” We all sweat, laugh, hurt, and feel like we are dying together, and somehow that makes it all bearable.


Not only do I love how Krav Maga has taught me self-defense, but I also love how it has propelled me into an active lifestyle. Before Krav Maga, I had never run more than half a mile, was unable to do pushups, and could hardly do situps. Now that I am approaching the one year anniversary of my first class, my strength and endurance have increased dramatically. Thanks to the exhaustive workout portion of each Krav Maga class, I now run 5K races and do pushups and situps with ease.


I have been awarded many Krav Maga “badges”–bruises, scrapes, and at least one scar–that show my dedication to Krav Maga. Krav Maga  has made me stronger, more determined, more confident. Simply said, Krav Maga has changed my life.

My First “Go Class”

My first encounter with a Krav Maga “go class” was staggering. Completely unexpectant of the intensity of the impending session, we all strapped on gloves, stretched, and waited for the class to commence. The class began with running laps around the room. Dad wisely advised me to keep at a moderate pace, in order to save my energy. My legs were beginning to protest and my arms were growing weak from blocking when the instructor eventually shouted, “Now squats.” Squats were followed by more running, bunny hopping, seal crawling, and pushups.Then came one of the hardest parts. I had to run, scan, and punch while my partner, Grant, gave me resistance by tugging on a belt that was wrapped around me. After a while, Grant and I switched places, and I attempted the task of being Grant’s opposition. Halfway through the ordeal, Dad took my place, enabling me to indulge in a water break. I reveled in the few moments of rest, but soon was forced to resume action. The class continued, complete with more running, punching, and kneeing. An attendant was sprawled on the sidelines, shirts were drenched, faces were crimson, and everyone was breathing heavily when the class finally came to a close. With great relief, I lifted my fatigued self off the hardwood floor and swept back the damp hair from my forehead. That was a class none of us would readily forget.

Written February, 2013