Brianna Bodine

2nd Degree Brown Belt and Yellow Sash

As a young adult, I always had an aggressive streak. I was the epitome of a tom boy, and I participated in fighting styles such as Tae Kwan Do, Kempo and kickboxing. However, I drifted away from fighting systems and martial arts for years because it became repetitive and uninteresting. When I came to Lexington to attend graduate school at the University of Kentucky, the last thing I expected to encounter was Shaolin Kung Fu. I came to the Sin Thé Karate School by accident, on a whim, and I signed up that night, which would be the beginning of a way of life infinitely more fulfilling than anything I've known before.

Shaolin-Do is more than a fighting style or a martial arts system: It is a design for living. The art and science of kung fu has permeated every aspect of my life. I am healthier, happier, more disciplined, humble, patient, and a better listener. I am even physically stronger than I ever was, even after weightlifting for the last decade of my life. By taking both the hard style kung fu and the soft style Tai Chi courses offered at the school, I'm learning how to be in tune with my body, my mind and my spirit. Years of yoga never gave me the level of meditation and spiritual contentment that Tai Chi and Shaolin-Do give me today. The practice of this martial art has made me a more complete and synergistic human being, and offered me a means to stay in shape that is more fun, more challenging and more authentic than any style I have ever encountered. Even better, there is so much material to learn — with more than 900 katas and dozens of weapons and fighting styles — that I will never get bored or fall out of love with Shaolin-Do like I did with the other styles.

To anyone who thinks they don't have the time or the money to do this (it's only about the price of a regular gym membership), I have to ask, "What are true health, well being and inner peace worth to you?" To me, those things are priceless, and this newfound "hobby" of mine has become the most important piece of my life. Life is too short to not live to the fullest, and this martial art has been the most fulfilling of all my life pursuits. I can never repay the school and all the helpful masters for what they have given me — a gift which defies expression or explanation, but that I will carry with me forever.

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