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Profiles in courage

March 1998

After eights months of teaching class, I learned something I had already suspected to be true: The volunteer gets as much if not more than the people he or she volunteers to help. My students are truly profiles in courage. Their energy and enthusiasm often surpass mine. A few, former professional dancers, can kick higher than I can.

Attendance ebbs and flows based on the students' health and work schedules. Some days it's just me and Tom, a former dancer whose speed and agility long ago surpassed his instructor's. (I hate Tom!) On other days, the poster model for Gold's Gym and a well-known actor participate along with others whose energy despite wasting syndrome and other ailments again remind me of the title of JFK's biography.

Enrollment is open. Newcomers are welcome and wanted. I usually take aside new students and teach them the basics, while I let the veterans beat each other up on their own. Each class includes aerobics-like "air-kicking and punching," plus a heavy workout on the bag, which is great for building muscle.

Friends have told me they would love to learn martial arts, but they're intimidated by the seeming complexity and difficulty of the movements. Not the way I teach it! I tell prospective students, if an uncoordinated klutz like me can earn a purple belt in Tae Kwon Do, you can learn more than enough self-defense so that you will never again sprint to your car on a dark street, keys in hand, ready to jump in, fearful of would-be fagbashers or muggers.

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Martial arts is all about empowerment. It also gives you really great muscle definition and mass!


This article has been reprinted at The Body with the permission of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA).



  
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This article was provided by AIDS Project Los Angeles. It is a part of the publication Positive Living.
 

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