Such a variety of paths that lead us to who we are…
…that lead us to to find ourselves, our passions, our core. This is the first in our series this year in which members of the Scholars community share what makes them feel alive, what pushes them to be the best they can be. Sometimes it is a clear path, other times it leads us down many roads. In the end, we find ourselves…and it is oh, so much more than just an Ah-ha moment.
My name is Josh Gendelman and I’m a new student at Scholars Together this year. I will complete my senior year here. As part of our curriculum we practice Kung Fu, which is exciting for me because I have a strong interest in American Martial Arts.
I began doing martial arts when I was just four years old. I started with Taekwondoe and really liked it. I’m seventeen now and have achieved a third-degree black belt in American Martial Arts and an assistant instructor.
American Martial Arts continues to be a part of my daily life. I practice every day. And it’s not just Taekwondoe I do. I am also involved with many other styles of martial arts outside of Scholars, including kickboxing, self-defense, kicking and submissive wrestling.
Kickboxing is a mix between normal sparring and boxing. Sparring is when two people go against each other with protective gear on and put their techniques and skills to the test. They can spar with one another on any part of the body, though we’re mindful not to hurt each other or go right for a vulnerable spot. Boxing is when two people have boxing gloves and a mouth guard and it’s only hand-to-hand combat from the waist up. We use kickboxing as overall training for our skills and for a conditioning workout.
When we practice self-defense, we act as though we are in a real situation. For example, we might imagine someone who is angry coming toward us to throw a sucker punch. Instead of punching back or inflicting more violence, the idea is to counter the attacker. This form of self-defense is called Ha-ga-na (also known as Krav-ma-ga) and the Israeli army uses it.
We use kicking to strengthen our legs and increase our skills. We kick at different levels and heights. There are simple kicks, like the front kick, and the more advanced jump-spin crescent – which is a move you might see in a martial arts film.
Taekwondoe is the art of kicking and punching. We use Taekwondoe to focus on our technique as a group. It’s mostly for kids who need to focus on fundamental things like stances and blocks.
Submissive wrestling involves taking someone to the ground and fighting on the ground using parts of your body without punching each other. It’s all about technique and finding new strategies, almost like a game of chess.
Martial Arts has made me who I am today. I’m a much stronger and more disciplined person than I was before. I build my confidence when I practice martial arts and it makes me feel better when there are people doing it with me that care about me.
Achieving the role as an assistant instructor is my dream job. I feel excited whenever I go to work. I never feel that it’s a drag. Practicing martial arts daily has allowed me to become more tolerant of things that frustrated me. When kids act up or complain, I can be calm and considerate, but at the same time be strict and have discipline when dealing with a problem.
Today, I am still learning what I can do to become better at what I do best. My instructor always tells me, “There is always more to learn, even if you think you know everything.” This means a lot to me that I will never stop teaching and/or learning.
So it is really exciting to now be learning Kung Fu at Scholars. It has given me the opportunity to open up to a different style of Martial Arts. Although it is hard for me to open up to such a technical style and form, I am learning new things every time I go.
written by Josh Gendelman, senior at Scholars Together Learning Community