Obese, Muslim-American woman has fallen in love with TKD

by Stone
(Virginia, USA)

I am in my early 30's and weigh in at 248lbs. I have been getting out of breath climbing stairs, which is new to me. Recently, I had to roll myself off of the couch which was a wake-up call that things have gone too far for me!

I enrolled in a beginners 2 session taekwondo course at a Dojang in my area. I went home to hem my size 7 dobok the night before my first class only to find that the pants cut in on my inner thigh. I was so disappointed. I had to rush back to the Dojang the morning of my class to get a size 8 uniform and get it hemmed before my class.

The final product hangs on me terribly and I feel like an overstuffed sumo marshmallow but I sucked it up and went to the class. I felt really out of place since my jacket comes down to my knees and my already larger body was way more puffed up with the Dobok on, but I figured that if anyone was going to laugh at me for looking silly, they would be frowned upon for being disrespectful in the Dojang. I am also a Muslim woman who doesn't normally cover except for during prayer or when I'm at the mosque, and my jacket made me uncomfortable so I was quite self-conscious with whether or not I had the right t-shirt on and if I was protecting my modesty enough.

I was dripping with sweat after my first training but wasn't super in pain like I get after personal training sessions on those machines that I loathe at the gym. I felt like my muscles were finally AWAKENED. I felt so good. I survived my first class and my muscles were reacting to blocks and kicks almost instinctively on the first night. It was a very empowering experience for me. It was also very spiritual for me. The mind, body and spirit connection is very powerful.

I thought maybe I was too big and too out of shape for taekwondo but I'm convinced now that I've just found the most mentally and physically challenging workout imaginable for me, plus I had fun. I HAD FUN using muscles I didn't know I had and wearing my sumo marshmallow suit in front of dozens of strangers!!! Unreal, for a woman with a lifetime of weight insecurities and gym class trauma etched in my mind to achieve but it happened and it's because of Taekwondo. I don't think I'll be in that size 8 dobok for long!

Class #2 is tomorrow and I will get my white belt and register for a year's worth of lessons. I have been psyched all weekend, youtubing tkd form videos and came across your great site which is now saved in my favorites. I look forward to shedding insecurities and pounds through this great martial art of Taekwondo and I hope that others from similar backgrounds take a personal challenge to themselves and try TKD. The journey will not be easy but the best things in life are not easy either. This is worth working for!

P.S. If you know where I can get the TKD head covering the taekwondo federation approved for muslim women in competition, I would really appreciate the info. From what I know, it also covers the chest area which I would really like to help with modesty since I'm having garment malfunctions. :-)

Deb's Reply

Hi Stone

Thanks for an honest and uplifting submission - being honest about your struggles will inspire others to follow you through the doors of the Dojang and take their first steps to a new life.

Take it slowly one class at a time and never give up and you'll be amazed at where you are in just a few months.

Let us know how you go

Deb :-)

PS I can't answer your question about the head covering but I have seen many Muslim women wearing them at taekwondo competitions - can anyone out there help?

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Aug 15, 2012
Good for you
by: Habepte

Alhumdallah! I am proud of you. I'm currently a green belt. I practice my pommses at home and do conditioning at home. Kicking and more advanced moves I only do in the dojang. Keep up the good work.

Jul 07, 2012
I love tkd
by: Anonymous

Well done for trying out tkd. I am obese, 5ft 2inches tall and in a size 7 dobok. (102kgs). I have been training now 3 months and just got my yellow tag. I get frustrated by my level of overall fitness. I need to train at least 4 days a week. I can only find classes nearby 3 days a week. I am too afraid to practice at home in case I get an injury. I need to have an instructor present to help me along. The rest of my troop have been so supportive even though I can't jump! I love taekwondo and it is suitable for people who have weight problems as long as you train sensibly. I recommend taekwondo for everyone!

Jan 08, 2012
I commend you
by: Habepte

I started tkd in June of 2011 and am loving it. I wear a Casper sports hijab. It cost me about 25-30 dollars, but it was worth it. When you get sparring gear it is thin enough that you can wear it under the head gear. The only thing is you need to wear a tee that is cut close to the neck . Keepnit up. When I started I was about 200 Pds and about 7 months postpartum, I have lost 35 Pds.

Nov 21, 2011
Head covering CAN be worn.
by: Muhammad

Dear Ms Stone,

I`m a Muslim too and I understand how important it is for Muslim woman to wear head coverings to cover your hair,As I know head coverings CAN be worn during training or sparring,Take Noha Safwat for an example,she`s an Egypt fighter who WEARS head coverings while sparring,you can search her video on YouTube sparring Malaysian fighter Che Chew Chan, Hope this helps :)

Oct 06, 2011
How Inspiring...
by: Anonymous

Your story is inspiring and honest. Good luck on your journey.

Oct 03, 2011
by: David Fiscus

Ms Stone, thank you for sharing your heart warming story. I was 52 years old and 381 pounds when I attended my first TKD class. My uniform was size 8, and it was much too small. But like you, though exhausted I found the class exhilarating. 3 years later I have lost 70 pounds, and a lot of the weight I carry is now solid muscle. I test for my Black Belt in December, and I feel 20 years younger. I am very proud of you, and I am certain you will achieve all your goals.

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