by ERICA SUH
Starting classes as a way to learn self-defense, senior Alondra Gomez has undergone a mental and physical journey through kickboxing, which she began in February 2014.
Historically, kickboxing has been considered a hybrid martial art, formed from the combination of elements of various traditional styles. It is a group of stand-up combat sports based on kicking and punching, developed from karate, Muay Thai, Taekwondo and Western boxing.
Kickboxing is practiced for self-defense, general fitness or as a contact sport. For people with conditions such as depression or anxiety, studies have shown that exercise may help relieve some symptoms.
“I started because I wanted to learn how to defend myself in case I ever needed to and it was an incredible workout,” said Gomez.
Gomez trained Monday through Friday at the AJH Kickboxing Studio from 8-9:30 p.m.
“[In a typical practice] we normally get there, socialize for a couple of minutes, then we stretch for about 15 minutes,” said Gomez. “We then warm up by working out our abs, legs and arms. Then we do punches and kicks on the focus mitts and bags. The last half hour, we usually spar or do some MMA [mixed martial arts] fighting.”
Gomez practices routines called katas and shorin-rye techniques like kicks, punches, combinations and flips.
“I loved every single thing we learned,” said Gomez. “We would work with katanas, sticks, knives, gloves, hands and feet.”
Every four months the studio holds promotions, where students are tested on everything they had learned in that period of time.
She is currently a seventh degree green belt. There are a total of seven belts: white, yellow, orange, green, blue, brown and black. Only black belts are eligible to participate in competitions.
To achieve a black belt, students are tested on different techniques and Sensei Alfred J Hernandez decides if they are prepared to be promoted.
“Through this process, I believe I have become a tougher woman and a more confident person,” said Gomez.
Throughout her youth, Gomez participated in cheer, dance, Zumba and worked out in the gym. Kickboxing, unlike any other sport, challenged Gomez’s mental endurance.
“Other sports always challenged my physical endurance, but kickboxing is not about the biggest and strongest; it’s about the person who is smart, fast and agile,” said Gomez. “It’s about how well you read your partner and how much pain you can allow your body to receive. It’s all in the mind.”
Gomez is a Posse scholar, having earned a full ride to Pepperdine University. As a non-profit organization, Posse awarded Gomez with a full-four-year tuition scholarship. After passing a series of interviews and being selected out of a highly selective pool of participants, Gomez was invited to join Pepperdine Posse Two, along with nine other students from the Los Angeles area.
“We are all from different backgrounds and Posse’s goal is to break social norms and create diversity amongst communities,” said Gomez.
Majoring in Business Management, Gomez hopes to continue her highly athletic lifestyle at Pepperdine, through the kickboxing team, pom squad, step team and surfing team.