Maeghen from 5 Elements Martial Arts invited me to join her Adult Self Defense seminar a little while ago. After the class, I had a moment to sit down with this amazing woman and get to know her on a little bit of a personal level.
When Maeghen was a child, she was lacking in self confidence due to being the victim of bullies. Like many others, she turned to sports to help her with both issues; however, she wasn't very good at the ones she had tried like dance and gymnastics. Cheerleading, soccer and basketball weren't her strong suits either. Maeghen was far too gawky and uncoordinated for those sports but luckily for her, there was a karate studio nearby. She would begin her martial arts career at the young age of 8 years old. Being the only girl in the classes didn't bother her. She told herself that with enough hard work, she could achieve anything she set her mind to. Maeghen fell in love with martial arts and knew from 8 years old that being an instructor was what she wanted to do with her life. Eventually, she would open her own school at the age of 16.
“I know exactly what I want. Every day, every week, a month
from now, six months from now, a year, 20 years.”
Maeghen now has her brown belt in Kung Fu, a brown belt in Goju Ru Karate, a brown stripe in Muay Thai, a 1st degree black belt in Olympic Tae Kwon Do, and a 4th degree black belt in Karate. Her school, 5 Elements Martial Arts, now hosts 53 classes a week with over 500 students ranging from 2.5 years old to 75 years old. Maeghen has worked very hard to provide an atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable and safe. Her school is more modern than the ones I have visited. Some of the old traditions are followed, and others, like the traditional uniform while training, are modified to allow the students to feel less constricted by wearing a school shirt and training pants while still still holding true to the belt's tradition. She also welcomes special needs students into her school. All of her students follow the same curriculum and her instructors have been trained to notice learning styles so that everyone has the opportunity to practice in the way that suits them best. Her studio has even produced special needs black belts that have followed the exact same curriculum as every other student who has gotten to that level has. Maeghen's studio is recognized by the World Karate and Kickboxing Council and was the first in Calgary to hold a pre-school marital arts program.
“I could easily have worked in oil and gas, made twice the
money, worked half the hours, and had a different lifestyle,
but I don't think I would have been very happy. Once you
figure out who you are and what you want, what feels good
in your gut, run with it.”
Aside from running 5 Elements, Maeghen is also a single mother of a special needs child. Her son has been with her in the studio from 2 days old and at 5 years old now, he is going to be joining regular school next year. His autism prevented him from speaking until he was 3 years old. He didn't show affection until he was 3 and a half years old and he had a really hard time making friends. Thanks to the resources and outlets that martial arts has given him, Maeghen has given her son an amazing future. Maeghen has helped her son overcome his struggles early in life so that he will not have to struggle for the rest of his life and her son's autism is hardly noticeable. Her biggest motivation has been to give her son the best possible life, which I believe she has.
“When I walk into the ring, I think about the fact that someone
is here to knock out my son's mom, and if I don't protect my son's
mother, he's not going to have the mom that I want him to have,
so I better buck up and just go for it. Be the role model I want
him to see.”
Because of her skill and dedication, Maeghen has had the opportunity to travel internationally and compete. She has been a WOMAA Team Canada member and won gold medals at both the WKC Nationals and the WKC World tournaments.
“I wear makeup when I fight, wear pink and paint my toe
nails. Instead of telling of my successes, I let my accomplishments
speak for themselves. I show by example.”
I asked her how she manages to do it all. Her answer was simple... “I really like coffee.”
She is strongly dedicated to her goals and helping you reach yours.
“There have been so many times that I wanted to quit, but I
tell myself 'Think about what you really want and sleep on it,
then see how you feel in the morning.' I wake up the next day
and say 'I'm not quitting today, doesn't matter how hard the
day is, one thing at a time.'”