“I wish I could inspire more women to try out Martial Arts.”
I started training Martial Arts about four years ago at Chimosa in Berlin. At that time, I was still working in fashion PR. Yichy, one of the studio founders and who I had previously met at a food festival, urged me to come try out boxing. As a Russian, my body knew how to do ballet. Boxing, however, was a completely different way of moving for me. The atmosphere (at the studio) was incredibly friendly, so starting off was really easy. I knew instantly that I didn’t want to stop and most likely wouldn’t be able to ever stop again.
I started with classical boxing, then kickboxing and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. At the same time, I had also stared to do yoga at Chimosa. This really impacted my Martial Arts. You always need a balance, harmony in life. Softness does not appear without hardness and so I had to find this balance, to realign my body and stretch it out. This is why I think Martial Arts and Yoga are the perfect mix – the yin and yang so to say.
When I was younger, I wanted to be an astrophysicist, as I was deeply fascinated by outer space and far away galaxies. However, my parents talked me out of it – in the old Soviet days, being a scientist meant endless labor work with low earnings and also because my grades in maths and physics were pretty bad. So instead I studied fashion design, which wasn’t exactly better (laughs).
In (fashion) PR, I had completely lost touch with who I was and was just living for the brands and companies that I worked for. Thanks to Martial Arts, I slowly found a way back to being me again. But being on this journey, you don’t do it alone. Being part of a community is an integral part of it. You can progress much better in a group as well as improving your skills by training with others. Bruce Lee said „To know oneself, is to study oneself in action with another person“.
In the past years, I have met so many incredible people – everyone on their way to be better versions of themselves – and so I have learned more about myself. I finally understood what made me happy and what things better to let go.
In 2015 I received a scholarship at the London College of Fashion and was able to complete my studies with a Master’s degree in marketing.
Berlin and London are very different from each other. London’s rhythm is much faster – everything is about speed. To counterbalance, I did sports 4-5 times per week. Yoga, weightlifting and Martial Arts. This is when I found my love for Muay Thai. It was incredibly exciting to start from scratch again, to fully focus on one Martial Arts style and go deeper in my practice and development. My grand London finale consisted of participating at a charity boxing match. A friend was organising it to raise funds for an orphanage and a hospital in Congo. I had the honour of opening the fight night with my match and I remember this moment clearly: Being surrounded by 400 people and thinking „What the hell are you doing right now?!“. In this moment, there is no running away, just pulling through, not giving up.
Since a few weeks I’ve been back in Berlin and am slowly adjusting to the city as a freelancer. Right now, I am working with a sports car brand in marketing. It’s an exciting opportunity which I can truly identify with, as I work with athletes and strong personalities. Working in marketing means combining strategy and creativity to develop and support brands. A very welcome intellectual challenge.
With changing workout habits, my food preferences changed as well. In my previous job, food was never my first priority, or I’ve never made it one. My main focus has always been on my work, my career, not my life or food. Only through sports, I gained a conscious understanding of healthy food and its benefits. I finally understood that food could help me to recover faster and perform better. This way, I am developing a healthy balance (between work and health) to smoothly transition between the two. Sounds more spiritual than it actually is. Generally, I just eat lighter, lots of vegetables and fish and completely leave out meat. Eating a handful of nuts or dried fruit 30 minutes after working out also helps to flow into recovery mode.
I wish I could inspire especially women and young girls to train Martial Arts and be brave enough to exit their comfort zones; to feel what amazing things they are capable of – physically and mentally. It certainly made me stronger, a bit wiser, but most of all it taught me respect, humbleness and discipline. I still battle prejudices such as „women shouldn’t box“ (and this is a gentle hint towards my own family…).
Also, humans are creatures of habit. It’s so easy to live and move in the bubbles we have created around ourselves. But when we have the courage to take that extra step into getting to know not only ourselves better, but also reflect on how we interact with the people around us, only then will we be able to fully grasp and explore the world we live in. Basically, it’s the Matrix pill question. And we shouldn’t avoid that.
Valerie Ox: @hellovalerieox
Photo: Powder Paper