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Reflection on 2020, or at least the first half…

What a decade it’s been… except we’re only about 7 months into a year.

2020 has been a tough one for many in a whole heap of ways. For MAUL, I (Chief Instructor Wendi), had the great fun of having hip surgery thanks to some poor genetics. This recovery has not been a linear progression, and throughout having to take this past year off of physically teaching or training, MAUL has changed a great deal – and for the better.

The next generation of MAUL instructors, who were growing and assisting and taking the lead almost in the background, have become MAUL’s face. Not only did these amazing women and non-binary members guide the club through the tricky transition of (temporarily) losing its two head instructors, they also then reacted – and fast! – to lockdown and the transition to virtual teaching. As we found our footing, we also reached out to MAULers far and wide to act as virtual instructors from Denmark, Saudi Arabia, and the USA. In the face of darkness and doubt, the MAUL family came together, and held strong.

But not only have we continued to survive the challenges, MAUL has grown in a way only MAUL would.

In just these past 6 months, we have worked on sessions for teen girls, women with joint or chronic illness, and refugees in Cambridge. We have created and developed both instructor and junior instructor support and training, driven by themes of understanding privilege, building confidence, and teaching through empathy. We have constructed a consent session for teenagers on allyship and community defense. And we have had the great privilege of seeing some of our first MiNi-MAULers (members of our families club), growing into young tweens and teens and brown belts, and stepping up during lockdown as leaders for the club. It is unsurprising, and a testament to what we created here, that these particular lockdown stars are young women. Such heroism earned a MAUL first – a park grading, all done at social distancing and under torrential rain.

We have also begun building an international community of women instructors. In reaction to lockdown, we created MAUL Around the World, bringing in a guest female instructor of any art, from anywhere, to lead a virtual session each month. This was inspired by the first MAUL blackbelt test where a panel of female instructors came together to lead the all-women grading. From pilates for kickers to 99 ways to face-palm someone and ending with the joy of Aiki-Yoga we’ve taken something horrible and made something great.

It’s been a rough year, yes, but martial arts is not about what you do when everything is great. The mental strength of martial arts comes from pushing through sweat or fatigue, through brain blanks and mental walls. There is always a reason to quit, there is always a much more comfortable pillow at home. But when you hit the floor, when you are knocked down, when you screw up – you don’t just get up, you get up and go back stronger.

I often tell my students before a grading, “If you screw up, your job is to make the next moves so phenomenal nobody remembers the mistake. You don’t look down, you don’t grimace, you don’t shrug sadly. You stand tall, and proud, and strong.” This is MAUL.

Fiercely Fragile get their belts!

A ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy year, Fiercely Fragile – MAUL’s adaptive martial arts session for women with chronic joint/physical maladies – has kicked off with a stellar duo of dedicated members. A sport enthusiast and a social butterfly have come together to learn martial arts for the first time at an age when, in their own words, their joints are “a bit past the sell-by date!” Virtual introductions, trying to learn nunchucks from a screen, and backgarden training (even in the rain!) finally led to meeting in Cherry Hinton park. The Fiercely Fragile crew have found a love for the power, challenge, and spirit of martial arts.

Fiercely Fragile was set up due to Instructor Wendi having a few joint surgeries, thanks to some poor genetics, and the concept of ‘low impact exercise’ striking fear into her heart. Martial arts is inherently adaptive, with the real aim of the art to find everyone’s strengths and utilise them to their own advantage. However, as injuries or needs add up, this can become more and more complicated, and often more and more difficult mentally as you get ‘adaptations’ or ‘variations’.

Instead, in Fiercely Fragile, you get nunchucks – in a low impact, joint-friendly environment. With each session built around individualised training on martial concepts, each member finds their own specialty in a low-impact, joint friendly environment. Basically, Fiercely Fragile MAULers are like ninja turtles, where each member has their own fighting style.

And finally, after nearly two months of training nearly every day and nearly destroying their homes with their nunchucks, they received their belts and t-shirts! And immediately made a video of how to tie their belts. True MAULers!

To sign up or ask any questions, please do contact us!

Teen Girls Virtual Sessions

We are running virtual teen (13-19) women’s martial arts sessions for new students on Fridays, 6.00pm to 7.00pm (BST).

Sessions will be co-run by Instructor Wendi from our women’s branch, Instructor Jenny from our youth & family’s branch, and our very own teen MAULer, Instructor Essie!

Teens have been finding lockdown particularly tricky, so we’re offering free t-shirts for any young woman who attends four Friday sessions in a row.

To sign up or ask any questions, please do contact us!

What might a session look like?

  • Warm-up (jogging on the spot and the like)
  • Stretching
  • Kicking or arm techniques
  • Art: learning sequences of moves that flow together and demonstrate our martial style
  • Meditation: In all honesty, we tend to get too caught up in the ART bit and often run late and miss the meditation bit, but we aim for it regardless!

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MAUL-TKD goes virtual

MAUL-TKD classes are now running virtually. All members have been emailed – if you haven’t received a message and should have done, please get in touch with the instructor team ASAP.

This is the first time we’ve tried to run our full classes virtually, with all members joining over the internet, so please bear with us while we work out any kinks in the process. We obviously won’t be able to do all of the usual training activities remotely but most of our syllabus can be revised without a partner!

Please see our student resources if you haven’t already got your belt’s syllabus.

Like the rest of the country, we’re not sure when we’ll be back to in-person classes at the school but we’ll keep members posted.