January 2007 Newsletter
Student of the Month
- Elizabeth Jenner -
What is your profession and personal background?
I am an English language test developer for the Educational Testing Service. I've spent a lot of time studying and working in Latin America, where my primary focus has been on both the ancient and contemporary Maya. I've studied a lot of languages, such as French, Portuguese, Dutch, Hebrew, and Cantonese--but I am only fluent in Spanish. In my loads of spare time, when I'm not working at ETS or at PAMA, I teach English for Spanish speakers at the Princeton Adult School and work on my Master's degree in Applied Linguistics.
What first turned you on to martial arts and what made you chose to make it a part of your life?
In 1995, right before the 36-year civil war ended, I was in Guatemala and was shot at by the paramilitary from pretty close range. And post-war zone life in Guatemala wasn't always easy either. I've been attacked with knives, grabbed, followed home, even chased down a 12,372 foot volcano (with two other women) by a gang of 5 men brandishing machetes. What did they want, people ask? I dunno--didn't have time to ask! Steal, rape, kill, or a combo of those were the only options, I'm guessing. Needless to say, with life constantly bringing me back to dangerous areas of the world, learning even basic means self-defense was a must. And of course, life can be dangerous anywhere, any time, any place. Here in the U.S., violence seems much more random. At least in Latin America, I knew what to expect, as the violence was overt. So I started out in Tae Kwon Do for approximately two years, and when I moved to New Jersey I began looking for a new place to train. I do want to note, though, that even with these difficult experiences in Latin America, I love it there. The cultures are wonderful; in my opinion, the people are much more open and giving and community oriented than we Americans tend to be. And the land is an incredible playground for those who love nature and outdoor activities.
How did you first hear about PAMA and what was your motivation for coming to PAMA?
I did a lot of research before choosing a school. I loved having all the different class options that PAMA offers, and also that at PAMA everyone is encouraged to take as many of the classes as possible: to cross-train, to build endurance, response capabilities and skill, to gain a variety of self-defense perspectives which come together to form a larger view. Also, it was important to me to find a place with instructors who have a lot of solid training/experience behind their names, and Sifu Rick and Guro Amy definitely fit that qualification. We truly receive world-class instruction, no doubt about it.
What do you most enjoy about your training and PAMA?
At PAMA, each and every training session is a challenge. The more I learn, the more I am challenged. Being able to fight through the challenges and come out stronger builds self confidence that travels over to other areas of life. Each session I learn new pieces of the whole puzzle of the arts, and when I start to understand how certain pieces come together and I'm able to utilize them, I feel like I am breaking through to a new level of awareness and being. I have never been this physically fit before in my life, and I've always been an athlete. I'm growing muscle where I didn't know muscle could grow! I don't get physically exhausted all the time the way I used to before I started training at PAMA. When I left Guatemala I found I had gone down to a mere 99 pounds. I am very pleased to be a fit 134 now. I know, I know, women aren't usually pleased to gain weight, but this was very healthy for me. And I absolutely owe this transformation to training under Sifu Rick and Guro Amy and the instructors. Somehow, people trying to gain weight are gaining it at PAMA, and people who want to lose weight are losing it there too. I don't know how this all works from a physical standpoint, but there you have it.
What are your goals you hope to achieve through martial arts?
Well, I'd love to be a stunt double for Angelina Jolie... But seriously, I just want to continue to increase my skills in the arts, to continue build my emotional, physical, and mental self through them. I want to be able to look back and reflect and say, wow, I've come a long way... and just keep on growing. I want to be able to protect myself and others should the need arise. I want to be able to face pain (and other challenges), not shrink from it, not be made weary by it.
In what ways has your training at PAMA permeated into other aspects of your life?
The lessons I've learned at PAMA have definitely permeated other areas of my life: Not only am I more physically fit, but I feel I have gained more self-confidence, I've become less easily angered, I'm able to manage daily stresses much, much better than in the past. My training there has only strengthened my already iron will, and continues to do so.
What is one thing about you that most people don't know?
I am a risk-taker by nature. I thrive on adventure. Actually, most people do know that about me. Hmmm... something else... Well, I love taking photographs of animals in the wild. I love hanging out with indigenous people groups in the jungles of the world. I love canoeing, and white water canoeing, camping, hiking, etc.
Any closing remarks?
Anyone who is considering trying PAMA should! There's a free trial class, so what on Earth's stopping you?
- Holiday Cheer! -
With the holiday spirit in the air, PAMA Staff and Instructors got together for their annual Holiday celebration. Lots of cheer and goodwill were exchanged at Triumph in Princeton. Once again wishes for the New Year include Peace, Health, and Happiness for all!
Sifu Recommends a Book
- Zen in the Martial Arts -
Under the guidance of such celebrated masters as Ed Parker and the immortal Bruce Lee, Joe Hyams vividly recounts his more than 25 years of experience in the martial arts. In his illuminating story, Hyams reveals to you how the daily application of Zen principles not only developed his physical expertise but gave him the mental discipline to control his personal problems -- self-image, work pressure, competition. Indeed, mastering the spiritual goals in martial arts can dramatically alter the quality of your life -- enriching your relationships with people, as well as helping you make full use of all your abilities.
- Jun Fan 4 and 8 Month Tests -
Congratulations to those students who passed their 4 month and 8 month test. The tests that are given are extremely comprehensive, covering all aspects of the Jun Fan curriculum. The students' hard work was evident during the tests. Although testing is not a requirement at PAMA, students are encouraged to do so to assess their knowledge of the arts. Good job and we look forward to your continued progression.