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Taking martial arts to defend your health


Whenever you’re trying to lose weight, you need to do two simple things: Manage your diet and fit exercise into your routine.

For me, one of those “all or nothing” people, a medically supervised fast was a good, hard diet reset. Because I was on such a limited daily caloric intake, I was initially told I needed to take it easy.

Several weeks into the fast, however, the doctor asked each of us in our weekly class, “What are you doing to exercise?”

All I knew was I didn’t want to join a gym. I had a membership for 10 years and maybe went religiously for two of them. I’m easily bored so I needed something else to raise my level of activity.

Albert Einstein believed if you defined the problem properly, the solution will present itself. My problem was I needed to find something that would encourage me to do it on a regular basis. One day, as I pondered whether to just give in to that dreaded gym membership, my daughter’s kung fu teacher advised her she needed to attend more group classes to continue to grow. My immediate reaction was to inwardly freak out about how I didn’t have time to take her while trying to get myself in shape.

But then I noticed adult after adult walking into the martial arts school in uniforms. The solution presented itself. I could earn stripes and sashes as I worked my way up, learning self-defense while getting healthy.

I knew I liked the school – my daughter has been attending for six years. But could I handle the moves if I started in my mid-40s?

“A good number of our current black sashes are over 50,” said White Dragon La Mesa head Sifu Don Tittle. “I have one black sash who didn’t even start until she was 50. So yeah, people have been proving age is just a number for a long time here at the school. What I think it takes is consistency. If people just make a habit of daily practice, they would be astounded at how quickly they would see progress. I encourage all of my students to turn training into a lifestyle, not just a once-in-a-while hobby.”

In addition to a weekly private lesson, White Dragon also offers several group classes, such as striking, kicking and kickboxing. “The classes target all three pillars of fitness: strength, cardio and flexibility,” said Tittle, who has been with White Dragon for 30 years. “Kung fu is a holistic form of training and includes many mental components and benefits as well.”

I told my daughter I was signing up for kung fu at her school. Expecting a little push-back, I instead got an excited, “That’s awesome, Mom!” as she vowed to go to classes with me. No embarrassment, just support.

A month into my training, I can tell you the journey ahead of me is long. I may not be able to hold a decent horse stance for longer than 20 seconds, but I am developing muscles that weren’t there and a confidence infused by the knowledge I may be able to at least fight off the average 10-year-old playground bully, no easy feat for the old, flabby me.

If you are interested in White Dragon La Mesa, call 619-461-2760 or visit

—Genevieve Suzuki is a local attorney and former La Mesa Courier editor.




Source: La Mesa Currier

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