Hard and Soft, Working Together, Become Complete
Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists

Uniting and empowering a diverse community
of women and girls in the martial arts.

A Mother-Daughter Martial Arts Team

Kristi and Haley Holm

Haley interviewed her mom to help us hear more about one of PAWMA's mother-daughter duos

Kristi and Haley Holm

Haley attempts to choke out her mother, Kristi.
Photo courtesy of Kristi Holm.

I started Martial arts in 1982 at the local city college and was completely hooked after my first class! I loved everything about it, the movement, the learning, philosophy and the camaraderie. Since that day I can't even imagine my life without it.

Haley has be involved in martial art in some way her whole life, as I trained all the way up to 2 weeks before she was born and from there she grew up in the dojo. She would come to class with me every day and play on the mat. One of her favorite things to do was looking at herself in the mirror as she ran up and down the length of the floor. At about 4 years old she started doing the kids classes in aikido. She loved it as much as I did.

When Haley was in first or second grade, I was the leader of her Brownie Troop, so we took a field trip to the dojo. Sensei had Haley start the warm ups and she was doing so well at teaching that Sensei had her lead almost the whole class (proud mom). As Haley got older, I watched her improvement in martial arts as she practiced at home as well as at class.

When Haley was about 12, I watched her make up an entire form/kata in our small living room to the theme song from Pirates of Caribbean for her Tang Soo Do instructor. I watched his eyes fill with tears as she performed it for him on his birthday. I listened as this same instructor give her her first real job as his assistant instructor when she was 17. I watch the kids she that teaches now climb on her back and hold on to her legs after class so she won't leave.

One of my favorite parts of training with my daughter is always having a partner to travel with to seminars, to try things out at home when I'm thinking about a technique or something, sparring in the kitchen is always fun (except now she beats me up). Also, one of the best parts is the inspiration I get from Haley "never take it easy" or "never quit" attitude. We tested together for our Tang Soo Do Black belts (along with nine others). I was behind her and after about the third hour of blasting away, I saw her very quickly hold her side for just a moment, then continue on full throttle on the next count. I know that pain, and seeing her push through it gave me a strength to dig deep and push myself through the rest of the test.

For both of us, stumbling upon PAWMA wasthe best thing ever! Our first year was in Turner Oregon and we could not believe how truly great it was! It was so wonderful to see all of these strong women passing along their art! The teachers were so amazing! All with a story of their own. We couldn't wait to bring our friends with us the next year...

I love training and absolutely am so blessed that my daughter loves it too!

Haley’s Perspective: Kristi then interviewed Haley. This is Haley's take on training.

Photo courtesy of Kristi Holm.

Q: How old were you when you started training?

Haley: Technically, I started training before I was born, because my mom was training through the first seven months of her pregnancy. But formally, I was four when I began instruction at Aikido of Santa Barbara.

Q: Why did you start training?

The thought of NOT training never even crossed my mind. At that age, training in martial arts to me was just like another milestone that I assumed would just happen--like learning how to walk or starting school, that's how I thought about training in martial arts. I assume that my mom asked me if I wanted to and that I said yes, but I don't remember this moment at all because it was a no-brainer for me as a four-year-old.

Q: How has martial arts served you in your life?

Physically, the breakfalls I learned in Aikido have saved me from some pretty hard falls outside of the studio. In general, it has kept me exercising, it has given me many skills, and it is a place where I met many of my very good friends, and it is something that my entire family participates in.

Q: How have you seen martial arts impact your life in a surprising way?

Public speaking. When I became a Sensei, my ability to speak to groups of people was vastly improved, because I got to practice talking to large groups about something I was very familiar with. Thus, my presentation-giving skills in college got much better after a few years of teaching kids classes.

Q: What's it like to do martial arts with your mom?

Answering this question is like asking a fish how it feels to be wet, because there has never been a time where I haven't done martial arts with my mom--or at least when she wasn't in the same studio as me. It just seems normal to me and strange to realize that most people don't have a parent or two at their dojo. It turns martial arts into a family thing, as well.

Q: What is your favorite part of doing martial arts with your mom, what is your least favorite part of doing martial arts with your mom?

My favorite part is the fact that we can talk about martial arts at length at home, about the studio, about technique, or about what we did in a class when the other one wasn't there. Since we are both very active at the studio, we do not have to do much explaining when we talk to each other about the events there. Another thing I love about doing martial arts with my mom is that she has a lot of knowledge from martial arts she studied before I was born that I can learn from. My least favorite thing about doing martial arts with my mom is that, when I was little at home, she used to use her knowledge of techniques to hold me down and tickle me.

Q: What do you think the advantages are of different ages training all together?

Older people have life experience and often training experience to guide the younger people and the younger people bring vitality and energy to the classes. People of all ages and sizes should absolutely train together, at least some of the time, because it breaks down many of society's generational gaps. The bigger and stronger students can learn how to use control properly when faced with a smaller opponent. I think it's actually very important that people of different ages train together.

Photo courtesy of Kristi Holm.

Kristi and Haley Holm train at Macomber Karate in Santa Barbara, California.

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