At one point last year, I had been binge-watching a LOT of TV shows on Netflix. One of the shows that I got into was Marvel's Iron Fist. Now, out of all the Netflix Marvel shows, Iron Fist was probably the worst (Danny is just so irritating!), but it did kind of spark my interest in martial arts.

I know that sounds really silly to say, but watching the character Colleen Wing fight alongside people with actual super powers was pretty bad ass. After that, I just started casually asking around about places in Cedar Rapids where I could learn to fight. Several people suggested I try out Hard Drive Performance Center. They eventually ended up doing an endorsement with me through the radio station, which meant that I couldn't back out, no matter how nervous I was!

Now, I didn't learn this until later in life, but my dad was actually very much into martial arts when he was alive. He was black belt in a form of karate called Isshin-Ryū. Here are a couple of old photos my mom dug up for me:


Learning more about that made me even more interested in learning some sort of martial art, which is why I started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instead of just kickboxing. I won't lie to you though, it took a LOT to get me to go. Watching people roll around on the mat with each other while fighting freaked me out, hard. The thought of getting that close to strangers while I was all sweaty and gross was enough to make me want to run screaming from the building. Luckily, the instructors let me take things super slow, and now I can have full conversations with people while I'm choking them out with my legs. It's funny how things played out.

At the end of last month I FINALLY got my very first gi, which meant that I finally got my white belt. After training for about 6 months, last night I earned my very first belt stripe. Now, it's just a tiny little piece of tape on my belt, but it means so much to me. I originally looked at these students and thought, "there is not a chance in HELL that I could ever do THAT," but here I am, doing it. I'm not even close to being good yet, but the strength it took push myself out of my comfort zone and actually try something that scared me is enough to make me feel a little bit proud of myself.

Courtney Koch

I just want to give a quick shout out to Keoni, Courtney, Brent, Beau, and everybody else who has pushed me and taught me and helped me suck a little less every class. It's only the beginning! :)