- Lona Apiyo Abiero
On the first week of the MARIE, I was scared because of my low academic qualifications as well as lack of a good title like other participants. I wasn't a coach of any national team; I didn't own a karate dojo, etc. Later, I realized that degrees and titles don't matter. What truly matters is your mind-set and your urge to learn, grow and make a change through karate.
My favorite class was Gender by Professor Wonseok of Keimyung University. Gender equality is globally a significant subject. Numerous countries look down upon women hereafter restraining them in management positions. Knowledge on the importance of gender equality pushed and motivated me to play a more active role as a woman to change this situation in Kenya. Other than that I cherished the Computer classes which taught me how to use programs such as Prezi and Sway which are used to make portfolios and visual presentations more presentable.
However hard the situation is, I would like to change how people view women in my society. Making these changes not only requires finances, but also cooperation and brainstorming with Non-Governmental Organization bodies and human rights activists.
My top priority is recruiting more girls and youth to learn Karate. Nyamira Girls Secondary School located in Siaya County is the only girls' boarding school that actively participates in all Karate championships. Although the school is very passionate about teaching girls Karate, only 14 students out of almost 500 signed up to learn Karate. My message to these girls is that Karate is not a violent sport, but it is a disciplined sport, mainly for self-defense. Apart from that, karate improves self-confidence, boosts our focus thereby lifting our self-esteem and also makes us physically fit.
Through MARIE program, the lectures at the world martial arts academy and through discussions with other participants, I also learnt that leadership is a very broad topic. Leaders do not just sit and command people, but they lead as an example governed with virtues and skills such as honesty, integrity, equality, hard work, problem solving skills, communication skills and good listening skills. A boss commands his subjects to go, but it takes a real leader to lead the way and walk with his or her subjects the whole distance. Through the knowledge I gathered in MARIE I want to be the kind of instructor who leads the way for her students and not command them to go. I have also learned the importance of equality and this also applies in training since not all students have the same learning understanding, some are slow, some are fast. Bottom line is that all goals of instilling discipline, learning self-defense and upbringing good leaders in the future must be achieved.
I would highly recommend MARIE program to anyone, young or old, since this is a very important course to any aspiring martial arts athlete or leader. The units are simplified in such a manner that they cater for all ages with the same goal at the end. Not only do you get to learn the interesting Korean culture, but you also get to learn courses such as physiotherapy and cultural heritage and also different forms of martial arts such as Taekkyon and Yong moo do, archery and also rowing activities. Through mingling with other participants from different countries, you get to share and learn how different instructors run their dojos, the problems they encounter and how they solve them.
Lastly, the friendly and hospitable ICM management team made my stay in Korea very enjoyable. Language barrier was not a problem since ICM and MARIE has good translators and this made communication very easy and enjoyable. Not at any time did I feel bored or homesick or stuck in any situation. They kept checking on us each single day and this made me easy and very comfortable, hence a good environment for learning and understanding martial arts.
Thank you ICM!