A Writer and a Martial Artist – how the martial arts have impacted my writing

tkdHey all!  I hope all the Americans out there had a lovely Thanksgiving – and I hope that my non-American readers had a great weekend as well!  I had a great potluck party with friends.  Cards Against Humanity was played, as was Halo.  It was a nice night!

So this is a post that’s near and dear to me.  Writing and martial arts have been my dual passions for a very, very long time.  It’s been about ten years since I decided I wanted to do something with writing (then decided to do something else, then came back to it).  And about nine years since I decided that I wanted to do something with martial arts, specifically taekwondo.

So.  For those who don’t know, I’m a second degree black belt in taekwondo, currently training for my third degree black belt.  I’ve been training on and off since I was fourteen (in fact, my first classes were a few days BEFORE my fourteenth birthday!)  For some perspective, I’m currently twenty-five.

Martial Arts and Writing

These don’t seem like things that go hand in hand, so I’ll give a bit of background.  I’ve started to realize that martial arts and writing do go hand in hand.  There was a point in my life that I had just about given up on my writing career.  I hadn’t been able to land a job in the writing field despite revamping my resume and applying everywhere like mad.  It was exceptionally frustrating and it was really having a negative effect on my personal writing as well.  I didn’t really want to do anything at all.

And then I found out that my old martial arts school had closed.  And that the instructors had opened a new school.

I hadn’t left on good terms (one might say awful terms), so I was hesitant to even try and contact them.

But I did contact them and everything went fine.  I started up my martial arts training again at Lake Country Martial Arts.


Since starting the martial arts, I’ve found that no matter what I do, somehow my martial arts career starts snaking its way into my writing.  Sometimes the main character has some serious combat training.  Sometimes they need combat training.  I write a lot of science fiction…so there’s often need to fight.  Like I said, sometimes its hand to hand combat – and then the influence of taekwondo really shines through.

Sometimes its knowledge of fighting more than one person at a time.

Sometimes its needing to know how to disarm someone who has a weapon.

Or how to fight with a weapon.

But the martial arts influence is there.

Sometimes I think it helps me with my fight scenes (especially when I’m being realistic), sometimes it holds me back because I know exactly how I want the scene to look and maybe I’m not conveying it well enough with words.

So…just in your physical writing?

No.  I think the more important part of how the martial arts have impacted my writing is in how they’ve shaped my mind.  This is always something that I’ve had an incredible amount of difficulty putting into words.  When we were asked to say how the martial arts have shaped us at our black belt test, I had so much trouble.  That was many years ago now…so I’m hoping I can be a little more eloquent at 25 than I was at 17.

Back in 2011 before I’d come back to the martial arts…I was almost ready to give up on my writing dream.  I was ready to quit and become a wage slave.

But then I went back to the martial arts.  And I started having urges to write again.  I started revising Opus Aria seriously, getting it ready for publication.  I started having goals again.

In my dedication for Opus Prelude, I wrote: “To Lake Country Martial Arts for picking me back up when I felt like I was drowning.  I doubt that I would be a published author if I hadn’t come back to the martial arts.  You have my heartfelt thanks for helping me find that drive and perseverance again.”

The martial arts taught me perseverance and how to have an indomitable spirit.  How to keep going, how to never give up.  How to get up after I’ve been kicked down.  Without the martial arts, I was going to give up.

I never would have made it to where I am today without the martial arts.

Thanks guys.  You’ll never know how much I appreciate what you’ve taught me.  Or how much I appreciate the support.

What has influenced your writing?  What gives you the strength to keep moving forward?

~LL Lemke



8 thoughts on “A Writer and a Martial Artist – how the martial arts have impacted my writing

  1. I’ve drawn a lot of influence from the time I spent in South Korea. It was a really fascinating experience — immersing myself in another culture for an entire year with no friends or family to lean on or turn to if things went south (hehehe south … South Korea … anyway …) And just the experience of being a teacher … apart from cluing me into the fact that I’m not cut out deal with children all day long, I learned so much from them, and got so many great story ideas. And then travelling around the country on the weekends … what a blast 🙂

    • I know someone else who has taught in South Korea as well – they mention that it’s been an amazing experience. I imagine that a bunch of stories would come out from that.

      I hope to eventually do my big adventures with travel soon…once I have money and all that jazz.

      Thanks for weighing in!

      • Well, that’s the nice thing about teaching abroad — they pay you, so you don’t need to save up any money 🙂 Of course, the whole teaching thing only really works if you’re either single, or willing to be apart from your significant other for a full year.

        • The not being single thing is part of the reason I’m dragging my heels on the teaching abroad thing. And he can’t come with because he has a fancy real adult job!

          Maybe someday. I’ll figure it out and make it work. I always have a standing offer to go and visit Wales!

  2. While martial arts experience has certainly made me better at writing fight scenes, it has also crept into my writing in other ways. I don’t mean the perseverance aspect so much, as I’ve always had that when it comes to writing. What I mean is the philosophies I’ve learned from martial arts that I know how to apply to daily life. (For examples of that, scroll through my old blogs.)

    However, for me I have taken a very deep interest in the ART of martial arts. Think about it this way: for those of us who get super serious about writing, we know our goal is always self-expression. We start out by imitating our heroes but then develop our own style.

    The same thing will happen if you do any martial art long enough.

    The two are related in a very easy-to-understand way: in both arts (writing and martial arts), you have to use the same tools that were used before you. In writing, it is the words of your native language…in martial arts, it is the techniques of your style. All of these have been used LONG before you came along. Yet if you were to read something I wrote, you could identify it as mine. When I reach a certain level with my wing chun, you will be able to say, “Yep, that is Steve’s wing chun.”

    Bruce Lee called what he practiced “the art of expressing the human body.” In other words your fighting style is an expression of your personality, much in the same way your writing is.

    I’m glad someone else out there sees a connection between the two. Maybe you didn’t see it in the exact same way as me, but you are closer than anyone else has ever gotten!

    • I’m sorry that I’ve taken so long to respond to this – but I was trying to find the proper words. And I’m glad that someone else has seen the connection, even if it isn’t in the exact same way.

      And I completely understand seeing someone’s martial arts as THEIR martial arts. I can tell the difference between my instructor’s styles, as well as my own. Different levels of crispness, attention to detail, power. There’s always something that makes it uniquely yours/theirs.

      Thanks so much for the comment and I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond.

      • You’re welcome. Just to clarify something, when I say each person has a difference in their style, I didn’t mean the differences that are visible now between my Sifu and I. Obviously he will be more detailed and powerful because he has been doing it much longer. What I mean is when you achieve a level where you can be considered “accomplished” (for lack of a better term) at your style of choice, your style will be noticeably different than someone else, even if it was someone who went to the same school as you.

        Please feel free to read and comment on my blog as well.


        • I understand what you mean, I was just having trouble conveying what I meant. I was talking about the differences between the other instructors and I. We’re three very different martial artists.

          Again, thanks for the comment.

          I’ll poke around on your blog as well.


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