Hitting someone and being hit is a huge deal for most of us who suffer from chronic cases of nice girl disease.
The thing that kickboxing has taught me, though, is that this is life. You're going to get hit—emotionally and mentally. Not a week in my life goes by that something doesn't jolt me as much as a few punches to the gut: a disappointing work rejection or a disagreement with a family member or something as seemingly innocuous as my car needing to go to the repair shop. Kickboxing reminds me that I can take it.
In kickboxing, you also learn that the greatest art is the art of evasion. When I was planning my wedding, I found it almost impossible not to take everything personally. I spent hours each day fielding comments about everything from my weight and the time of the reception to the seating arrangements and the menu.
"Bob and weave, girl. Bob and weave," I started telling myself when the phone calls came fast and furious. I began to picture myself in kickboxing class, how I had learned to use my knees, to keep my guard up, to slither like a snake between punches.
All my life, I'd admired a pantheon of superheroes. When I was a kid, it was Wonder Woman; her golden lasso, her bad-ass invisible plane. As I got older, I looked up to athletes like Jackie Joyner-Kersee and WNBA star Teresa Weatherspoon, and movie characters like Foxy Brown and La Femme Nikita.
Kickboxing changed my life because for the very first time, when I got into a tough space emotionally and I needed to channel a butt-kicking diva, the person I channeled was me.
We are more than we could ever imagine ourselves to be. It's what we tell our children, our partners, our friends. But how often do we tell it to ourselves? And if we do, how often do we prove it? How often do we challenge ourselves to do something new, to try something that feels almost tear-inducingly hard?
I am not athletic by nature. But every week, kickboxing is my one brave thing.